With every discussion of the internet of things (IoT), or the ever-expanding list of web-enabled devices that look set to form a fully ‘connected’ universe, businesses are starting to ask the obvious: where do I fit in?

For performance marketers, the ability to connect with audiences in places and ways they thought never possible is exciting to say the least. Because whether it’s iBeacons in stores, fitness bands on wrists or personalised billboards, the opportunity to do something that little bit different to the norm is there to be seen.

Martyn Bentley, regional vice president for Buyer Cloud at ad automation giant Rubicon Project, is adamant that performance will find a good spot in the internet of things, which was the point of focus for our recent chat with him.     

We hear lots about the potential wearable tech poses to advertisers, but how will performance marketing work its way in?

Martyn Bentley: Performance marketing is synonymous with programmatic advertising. Performance typically indicates a finite goal such as a conversion or a sale, which is useful in itself but the goal may not always be so clear cut. For example, a brand objective could be to generate awareness; to find out where someone is in a certain location, offering a nice interaction or even providing a weather forecast as they sponsor ads on certain websites. None of these are an acquisition performance goal but are moreover part of an awareness campaign. Performance marketing as a whole plays a massive role, but programmatic is the glue bringing it all together.

Then, if we consider the role of wearable tech as devices which are intended to be ever-present on the individual, we have an opportunity for more interactions with consumers, but also the risk for brand damage and annoying or useless ad interactions. For instance, while browsing online, we might be retargeted with ads from something we looked at or purchased weeks ago, so imagine the frustration if you have this same situation on your Apple Watch and suddenly you’re three miles on your way home and seeing ads for a product you’ve already got in your shopping bag. So, programmatic will be vital for controlling ads on emerging wearable tech, ensuring brands don’t reach out to consumers at the wrong time – which I think we all agree can be an annoyance!

Do we have anything at the moment that demonstrates performance’s role in the IoT? 

MB: Amazon Dash is a good example. It’s a small button which you can attach to household items, that once you’ve pressed it places an order. This can be applied to the entire fast-moving consumer goods sector. Kickstarter has endless streams of these inventions. 

There are lots of experiments happening in this space but no demonstrable winner that truly shows the performance aspect of the IoT quite yet. On a slightly bigger scale, we have companies like Microsoft which has built the framework for the IoT. In turn I think it will be the saviour of Microsoft’s stock price because its application tools are apparently amazing for building a connected world.

Are there any specific devices either on sale or recently announced that will help strengthen this tie?

MB: Amazon Dash (mentioned earlier) and Finnish company, Sponda, with its concept of a Physical Cookie keychain are two worth noting. The keychain is the same as having an radio-frequency identification chip on your mobile phone or Apple Watch, which can communicate with other electronic reader devices in a retail environment or potentially anywhere else.

Research that came out this week indicated that 70% of senior marketers believe wearables are more style than substance. What do you think can drive a change in perception?

MB: People will need to see the personal benefit and the best way for this to happen is if its value is demonstrated to you by others benefitting from it. For example, my colleague has an Apple Watch – I can see how it drives him to keep fit with encouraging nudges to get up to walk around every ten minutes. He raves about it, so I can see its implicit value.

But of course it will take time before the Apple Watch or the next wearable incarnation becomes mainstream like the iPhone (which took a while to become fully adopted itself). People need to see the value and that again takes time. Then, if we look at Google Glass, which was a great innovation, they failed to convince the consumer of the benefit of owning one, both in terms of style and practicality.

There are lots of ideals of how people want this ‘connected universe’ to pan out. What is your utopia in this scenario?

MB: A utopian ideal for the marketer would be that all interactions with the consumer in the connected ecosystem would be useful; helping to connect with potential customers, in a timely manner and with useful nuggets of information. The advantage for consumers, which many don’t even know about is the truly global connected ecosystem; big data gets bigger and things get smarter, which could potentially be life enhancing. 

One example of a potentially life-enhancing connected device is Waze, which is like a TomTom device for GPS navigation. Information from individual devices are crowdsourced so that it automatically knows when people en route are slowing down and will reroute based on congestion levels. It’s the culmination of lots of data from lots of different devices within various vehicles.