Updated January 6 with a clarification of the TapSense-Apple relationship and a note about TapSense correcting its blog post.
Mobile ad network TapSense has announced the first programmatic ad platform for Apple’s as-yet-unreleased Apple Watch, showcasing a full-screen Starbucks ad on the wrist-worn wearable.
Cue the bandwagon … or cue the future?
The company’s goal is to launch a new platform that would bring together a brand-new ad format, hyper-local targeting, and — of course — Apple Pay for a very personal, very local, and very immediate advertising/marketing/sales gestalt that will potentially see you getting in-store or near-store notifications, providing the ability for you to interact with the ads and learn more, and actually consummate a purchase, all via that chunk of plastic and metal on your wrist.
Plus the big dongle that your smartphone has now become, of course.
An Apple representative, however, told VentureBeat that TapSense has not worked with Apple on this, that Apple does not currently allow the use of notifications for marketing, and that it has not announced any plans to open the device to advertising.
“Wearables and Internet of Things (IoT) are the next frontiers in the mobile revolution,” TapSense CEO Ash Kumar said on the company’s blog. “We are excited to announce industry’s first programmatic ad platform for Apple Watch developers and brands.”
“Apple Watch has the potential to be a category disruptor similar to iPod or iPhone and we believe that it provides great opportunities for brands and developers to deliver engaging experiences to consumers,” he added.
TapSense is planning a new ad format will incorporate full-screen images, watch faces, and glances, and the company would like to utilize the GPS on your connected iPhone to get geotargeted ads. It also wants to incorporate coupons that can be redeemed right off your wrist via Apple Pay, something that TapSense says is both easier for consumers and better for retailers, as it offers direct, immediate tracking of campaign success.
This will all depend on Apple’s cooperation, of course, and Apple is both notoriously challenging to work with … and notorious at holding grudges when potential partners announce products for its ecosystem without consultation.
Indeed, TapSense revised its blog post shortly after publishing it, adding three corrections and clarifications, including the note that “the TapSense SDK will not integrate directly with Apple Pay.”
TapSense is also releasing an updated version of its SDK for mobile developers who are building apps for Apple Watch, allowing them to integrate the ad platform into their apps and monetize via this new form of mobile ads.
TapSense has a history of being a quick mover, having announced support for Facebook’s mobile ad platform the day after it was announced. And Kumar has previously signaled his interest in the Apple Watch platform, calling the product a game-changer and disrupter that has the potential to enable new services and change how we think about wearable technology.
Time will tell if Apple’s string of magic products from the iPod to the iPhone to the iPad will continue with Apple Watch, and if success there will enable innovative new mobile marketing experiences such as this in the ever-changing mobile ad space.
One thing I will say:
For an Apple Watch nonbeliever, this is one of the first things I’ve seen that has made me sit up and take notice, and I think I might like the experience it would enable. For an ad network to make that connection for me is, to put it mildly, a bit of a shock.
Given the subsequent corrections from TapSense, it would be a shock, however, if TapSense’s vision can be wholly realized.