Wearable devices are growing more prevalent by the day and have a vast number of uses, from consumer to enterprise to medical. Different wearables have been designed for nearly every human body part: Google Glass, Oculus Rift and various HUDs for the head; the Apple Watch, Fitbit and Ring for the arm/wrist/hand; and even smart shoes for the feet.
The tricky part is, while many of us are aware of wearable tech and the functionality it offers, actual ownership by comparison is relatively low. Approximately 50% of mobile media users around the world are aware of wearables, compared to just 1.5% of the world’s population that actually used a wearable device last year. Of those devices, wrist fitness trackers were far and away the most popular, accounting for 54% of devices owned.
In response to this popularity, advertisers have already begun to explore native ad formats. Corporate sponsorships are a current trend, such as Under Armour’s acquisition of the popular MapMyFitness app. Most brands currently advertising in the wearable market are using a gamification approach: challenging users to meet specific goals, such as logging 20 minutes of daily exercise 15 days in a row, while offering rewards such as specific achievements, as well as unique access to content such as custom Spotify playlists.
In order for wearable tech to really break through to a level of popularity, the cost/benefit ratio needs to improve significantly, as it’s currently not motivating enough to convince customers to purchase. Most retail prices are an average of 41% higher than most consumers feel is appropriate, and many consumers will flat-out not pay anything over $200. With a current lack of any kind of killer app in the market, many consumers feel that there is just no compelling use case to warrant such an expensive purchase.
It’s likely that wearable-based ads won’t appear in any significant volume until at least one particular device attains a significant market share. For a while, it looked hopeful that the Apple Watch was on its way to doing just that, though the adoption rate plateaued relatively early in response to several factors including operating system and hardware issues. Until such a market share is achieved, us wearable users will continue to experience a mostly ad-free user experience.
What are your thoughts on wearables? Do you already own/use one? If not, which would you be most likely to get in the future?