Gadgets

Quick, wearables, hide! The ads are coming …

Above: Tecsol's vision of an ad on a Moto 360 smartwatch.

Image Credit: Tecsol
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You knew it was inevitable.

Screens on devices in the emerging wearable category could no more avoid ads than, say, a white wall in downtown Manhattan could avoid graffiti.

This week, India-based Tecsol Software announced that it is “working on becoming the first company to launch an ad engine for wearable devices.”

The initial imagined target: the Motorola Moto 360 smartwatch. In a post yesterday on the corporate blog, VP of sales/marketing Manjunath Padigar said a Moto 360 as a “wrist billboard” would be “awesome.”

Possible use cases, he said, include letting you know about a nearby coffee place as you’re walking on a street or, unprompted, telling you the weather forecast as you head for a calendar’d appointment. To be eligible real estate, Tecsol CTO Basil Abbas told VentureBeat, the wearable needs “at least a little amount of screen space” — like a smartwatch, unlike a Nike FuelBand.

“[We've] built a very basic MVC model of the [ad] engine itself, and it’s hosted in the cloud,” Abbas said. The rudimentary engine was deployed earlier this week.

A basic, static ad image can be uploaded, he said, “and pushed into the wearable device, pops up, the user can click on it or dismiss it, and it sends data back and gathers analytics.”

You know, digital ads. On your watch.

‘Good use case’

“What we’ve been trying to do,” Abbas said, “is see if there’s a good use case for this in this market.” At the moment, he said, there hasn’t yet been any user testing for feedback, since wearable devices are still rare in India and elsewhere.

“We’re already seeing consumer pushback on ads,” Forrester Research principal analyst Jim Nail told us, “[because] of the overload of ads everywhere.”

He pointed to online cookie cleaners, ad blockers, and DVR ad skipping, and added that “cord-cutting” – relying on such programming sources as online video, Netflix, and Amazon instead of cable — is in part a desire to avoid ads.

Abbas suggested that ads in apps on wearables might be one path. Since health care is becoming a focus of wristbands and watches, he said, an ad relating to, say, glucose levels might reside inside a glucose-measuring app on a wearable, thus providing value.

“That’s marketers’ self-delusion,” Nail told us. “Marketers have this belief that people sit around all day thinking of their brand.”

At this stage of wearables’ introduction, he said, it would be wise to first establish the value and utility of the device itself before trying to make the case for useful ads.

“Ads are not what [wearable-buying] consumers are looking for,” Nail said.

‘No ad’ version?

“I expect [that] some smartwatch manufacturers will differentiate their products on the basis of a no-ad product,” Parks Associates’ senior analyst Jennifer Kent told us.

She also suggested that the “most realistic use case” is not ads on the wearables themselves, but on the paired smartphone — using “contextual data picked up from sensors in these smart wearable products.”

And if ads eventually show up in a wearable like Google Glass — a platform that Abbas said is an appropriate one — it “must be intelligent enough to know that ads should not be served while the wearer is driving, for instance.”

For ads on wearables, it seems, as much attention will need to be paid to no-use cases as to use cases.

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Forrester Research (Nasdaq: FORR) is a global research and advisory firm serving professionals in 13 key roles across three distinct client segments. Our clients face progressively complex business and technology decisions every day. T... read more »

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13 comments
Suresh Kumar
Suresh Kumar

Why are people buying ads space for advertising companies?

Matt Cooper
Matt Cooper

I'm in digital advertising and even I can say that no one wants this. They've been trying to get location based ads working on phones for years but the adoption isn't there. It might sound good get a coupon for a coffee that's right up the street but no one cares—not even the coffee shop and that's ultimately who has to buy the ad.

Kyle Affronti
Kyle Affronti

"Want to see what time it is? Please take this quick 2 minute survey to continue".

Nicholas M. Cummings
Nicholas M. Cummings

combine this with Phil Libin's insight that wearable interaction times will be in the 1-3 second range and I imagine a quick yes-or-no contextual offer... I imagine the smartphone (and to a lesser extent the tablet) as the mobile hub where the context comes from, a combination of behaviors and settings...

Tyson Quick
Tyson Quick

Wearables aren't even that popular yet. Advertisers come after the popularity part

Michael Russell
Michael Russell

This pisses me of almost as much as the people who bring me their laptops and ask me to remove all the shitte bloatware installed on it slowing it to a crawl in some cases. Again, its paid for. They shouldn't have to go through that to optimally use something they bought and paid for.

Michael Russell
Michael Russell

If I pay for the device, I don't give a fuck how personalized the ads are. GTFO. I buy a car, do I expect ads on the HUD or info panel? No because I paid for it.

Preim Manjunath
Preim Manjunath

The idea is not being a "pain" but rather being helpful. The company is working hard to make the ads contextual, personalized and seamless. Of course its a big challenge, but I am sure there is a way around.

Patrick Coomans
Patrick Coomans

Either it shows ads, meaning you should get paid to wear it, either it is ad free and you will pay for the device. That is how I see it...

Christopher Jackson
Christopher Jackson

I'm gonna agree with Lora here. Whoever wrote that post is either drunk or oblivious. I tend to appreciate you guys, but you clearly missed the point here. Hopefully you can learn from your mistake and be a little more thoughtful in your posts. We certainly don't need another Mashable/TMZ

Danny Zhou
Danny Zhou

If I don't have a way to stop them, I won't be wearing it.

Lora Kolodny
Lora Kolodny

hopefully this means advertisers can get more creative? how about hopefully this means -- people who buy wearable hardware, and do not want to become walking billboards, do not want the ad creep on their person, will have a real opt-out and privacy controls.