Here’s what I’ll say about Apple’s latest announcements: The hype wasn’t without cause. Wednesday’s event signaled some of the biggest movements towards a true proliferation of omnichannel media. They had cool changes to their already cool phone, some jaw-dropping upgrades to the Apple TV, and more implications and applications for the Apple Watch. If that’s not the definition of the hyper-connected consumer — and the always-on company — then I don’t know what is.
So what does all of this mean for marketers? Like it or not, when Apple reinvents and reimagines, marketers have to be in lock-step — or, minimally, understand where the industry is heading. We have to understand how our brands can align and excel in a way that’s authentic, organic, and customer-centric. Here are a few things for marketers to keep in mind as they work to leverage and implement Apple’s recent changes.
Leverage Couch Commerce with Apple TV
I, admittedly, was holding my breath for TV news. Just ahead of the announcement, Adobe released its Q2 digital video benchmark report, which called out TV Everywhere (TVE) as a platform in need of a serious boost. Despite growing 63 percent year-over-year with close to 13 percent of paid viewers watching on devices, “the lack of a simple, all-in-one solution” could be limiting the full potential of TVE. This was the moment for Apple to strike with something truly innovative — authenticated views on TV-connected devices like Apple TV and Roku up 110 percent since this time last year.
And strike it did. The Apple TV announcements include iOS9 integration, a built-in Siri, and a new universal search that displays every option you’ve got for watching a show, providing a much more streamlined experience for consumers. For marketers, the biggest piece of the Apple TV news was the dedicated app store. An all-new app SDK designed just for the set-top box will enable your brand to develop Apple TV-specific apps. You could order takeout on your TV between shows. Siri could share real-time updates to your social platforms. You could text a friend to turn on their TV.
Beyond that, think about couch commerce in general. Last year, during the finale of popular British reality show Strictly Come Dancing, online searches for ballroom shoes spiked 163 percent. The Great British Bake Off, another U.K. reality competition show, heavily featured Kitchen Aid appliances in its final episode. The result? A 36 percent increase in searches for “Kitchen Aid” during that nail-biting hour. Apple has, effectively, taken the middleman out of the equation — even if that middleman was its own iPad or iPhone. Now consumers will be able to stay on platform — and engaged on platform — and find what they want right now with a few voice commands or clicks. How’s that for a simplified experience?
Your next step? Think about couch commerce and your brand, even if you aren’t selling dancing shoes or kitchen appliances. How is — or how could — your multi-tasking audience engaging with your brand while consuming TV or video content? Think about the shopping, sharing, socializing, secondary content consumption — and think about how those experiences could be enhanced and streamlined for the Apple TV.
Capture Micro Moments with a Bigger, Better Apple Watch … if it Makes Sense
During its event, Apple touted the enhanced Apple Watch, complete with OS 2 that allows for watch-specific apps, which means increased functionality for wearers and seemingly infinite potential for marketers to get up close and personal with their core audience.
Like the Apple TV announcements, these sweeping changes couldn’t come at a better time for the Watch. Forrester recently highlighted, “Mobile moments will shrink to micro moments … those mobile moments that require only a glance to identify and deliver quick information that customers can either consume or act upon immediately.” The Apple Watch is the epitome of the micro moment and with these upgrades, brands will be able to better respond to their needs and wants in real time. “Consumers will still look to apps for complex tasks, but increasingly, they expect brands to anticipate their needs with micro moments,” explains Forrester, “powered by contextual data and executed with push notifications in the form of text messages, audio, or haptic signals to spur them into action.” Check and check.
Again, the million dollar question for marketers: now what? Despite the excitement surrounding Apple’s announcements, this isn’t the time to “leap into an ‘I need a smartwatch strategy’ mindset reminiscent of 2008, when everyone needed an iPhone app without much of a strategy behind it,” says Forrester. Think about what’s right for your brand, your consumers, and this specific moment in time and go from there. To be successful on this platform you’ll need some serious ideation, testing, and a razor-sharp focus on delivering a powerful, unparalleled consumer experience. And that doesn’t just happen.
Ready to Roll Up Your Sleeves?
Like all Apple news these roll outs come with massive opportunities for optimizationally-focused marketers and brands. Take this as your signal to dig in and see where your organization sits within this hyper-connected landscape. See where the potential lies to capture greater market share and deliver spot-on relevant experiences for consumers everywhere. And, equally importantly, see what makes sense for your brand at this moment in time. Not every brand should be plastered across a TV screen or developing watch-friendly apps, but all brands need to quickly figure out what strategy makes the most sense for them because, before you know it, these potential holiday must-haves will be lining shelves everywhere, packed with massive opportunity for brands across all verticals.
Kevin Lindsay heads up product marketing for Adobe Target. He was with Omniture prior to its acquisition by Adobe and previously held product and strategic marketing positions at search software companies Mercado and Verity.