Ready, set, adapt: Key marcomms questions for the "Internet of Things" era

Ready, set, adapt: Key marcomms questions for the "Internet of Things" era

I imagine a world where I wake up and Google Home reads me the temperature and my local news headlines.

I enter the kitchen, finish off the last of the milk, and my refrigerator delays my order for a new carton because it knows I’m on vacation starting tomorrow.

I walk to work and pass a digital billboard that changes to show a sale on a pair of shoes I was researching last week and sends me a popup on my iPhone so I can buy them with one click.

I enter my office and I’m running late for an offsite meeting, so my personal robot assistant flies me to…

Whoa, maybe not that far...But, the rest is a very near reality all triggered by the “Internet of Things” (IoT) era.

And, it’s something that is raising a lot of questions about the impacts for marketing, communications and PR industries, especially with regard to four key areas:

1. Data-driven campaigns

For marcomms professionals, the best thing about the IoT revolution is the amount of consumer data it provides.

With embedded sensors collecting and reporting a wealth of specific user data, companies can develop much more targeted audience profiles and adapt their behavior to put the customer reality first. But, with this data, will companies also be able to change consumer behavior?

2. New storytelling methods

IoT is also bringing on new ways to get those data-driven messages across.

Will the written word no longer be a primary strategy as PR and marketing execs look at more voice-activated, visual, automated, textural and experiential methods? For instance, with news able to be prompted by voice or even location – like when your driverless car passes a specific landmark – the industry needs to adapt.

3. Digital strategies

But, with all of these new methods, how can companies incorporate SEO?

If consumers are asking Alexa for their daily flash news briefing, marketers need to potentially abandon keyword strategies and, instead, look at using bots, programming, AI and machine learning to improve SEO for voice search and beyond. And, with these IoT transformations taking users' eyes away from websites altogether, will Siri and other virtual assistants start offering an ad before answering your next question?

4. Social automation

Marcomms pros know the value of targeted, channel-specific social media strategies. But, what about a predictive, automated social media approach triggered by IoT devices and sensors themselves?

Automated posts from connected things have the potential to generate new communities of interest for specific consumer groups, albeit while potentially also overloading social networks.

If you follow the Internet of Things movement in any capacity, you’ve no doubt stumbled upon Cisco's prediction that, by the year 2020, the world will have 50 billion connected devices. 50 billion!

While some more “conservative” predictions have surfaced from the likes of IHS Markit (30.7 billion) or Gartner (20.8 billion), these numbers in the billions are still so astounding that it’s likely to impact every industry…and it’s clear that PR and marketing are no different, so we need to start thinking about the impact of IoT now for a clear way forward.

Meredith L. Eaton is a Vice President at March Communications, focusing on driving awareness and engagement for technology innovation brands in cloud, telco, security, infrastructure, AI and IoT markets. By aligning her clients’ business objectives with PR initiatives, Meredith has helped companies – from large, public brands to niche startups – execute business-critical, integrated campaigns to capture competitive market share and shift brand perceptions. Follow her on Twitter.

Photo via Pixabay

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