Comment & Opinion

Mobile marketing meet the smart hairbrush: Connected and gamified environments are defining the smartphone-powered now

How game developers and marketers can power new experiences

Mobile marketing meet the smart hairbrush: Connected and gamified environments are defining the smartphone-powered now

Mark Ollila is General Manager, Devices at Verve.

When it comes to mobile-consumer experiences, marketers and game developers are riding a wave of evolving technology.

Both industries are on the cusp of a future defined by the Internet of Things, one in which the smartphones that are always connected and always with us at our fingertips become a critical nexus - the hub of a multi-component, multi-platform world.

From the hairbrush we use in the morning to the dashboard of tomorrow’s self-driving car, it is the smartphone that links together the IoT and next generation mobile interactions.

The device serves as a uniquely positioned portal to the majority of consumers’ personal, professional, and social experiences; other technology may well access details of users’ lifestyles and behaviours, but no other device offers the same breadth of insights.

What follow are examples that highlight this relationship. Each instance, drawn from recent demonstrations at industry events, helps focus our attention on the interplay between the connected objects in our lives and the location-based and creative roles that mobile devices play.

Internet of things and the gamified evolution

The future of mobile marketing now extends beyond software and services. Witness this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, where a smart brush tied to a smartphone app estimated how much damage its user was causing to their hair based on the types of brushing it registered.

Expanding on that example, this gamified IoT includes toothbrushes that score brushers’ techniques, awarding points for reaching every spot.

Similarly, gamified technology becomes part of the wearable and recreational space - a running shoe, for example, that scores wearers’ strides, a tennis racket or a golf club with on-board sensors piping data to players’ mobile devices, rating grip, form, and racket/club condition.

Gamification is spreading to more and more connected devices, reflecting a certain human need - which is our inclination to seek fun and joyful experiences with the technology we own.

Playful interactions are often at the centre of successful brand–consumer engagements, too, and the games industry knows how to make them happen.

Couple that with mobile marketing, which knows the ad-engagement space, and it’s clear that partnership is a critical step for both sectors in matching pace with development, not just from a software-only perspective, but in verticals - transportation, for example; see Uber - where hardware as a service is emerging and maturing.

Autonomous cars accelerate (and gamify) mobile branding

The fact that Google's self-driving car has completed two million miles - and that connected and autonomous cars are now processing information with capabilities equivalent to those of legal drivers - suggests that these vehicles will reach public roads and prove practical faster than even industry leaders thought probable.

Playful interactions are often at the centre of successful brand–consumer engagements and the games industry knows how to make them happen.

For marketers, when every occupant is a passenger it means location-based experiences can become context-rich opportunities.

As developers note already, smartphones are poised to serve as the key hub for consumer choices in these environments - they’re the primary means of identifying which users are in the car to begin with - streaming personalised content to in-cabin screens and enabling interactions around navigation and vehicle resources.

In many ways, the smartphone is you, and, for advertisers, as the digital environment dominates the in-cabin scenario, the cockpit of a self-driving and connected car is poised to become more and more branded. In short, advertisers will increasingly sponsor experiences, seeking access to passengers’ newly liberated time and attention.

Game developers and marketers can come together and offer incentives around riders’ choices - i.e. they can earn points for cost-saving decisions and eco-friendly moves and these points will convert to digital coupons, insurance discounts, and other ways of impacting virtual and physical economies.

Thanks to the success of rewarded video, this concept will increasingly empower brands to serve innovative ad formats, evolving mechanisms of engagement, and tie riders’ experiences of physical economies to other, virtual iterations.

Enabling new ideas

App developers, game creators, marketers, and brands all have a stake in the expansion of mobile’s intersection with IoT and new interfaces. It is this drive for augmentation and expansion that will help power innovation and it’s the ubiquity of mobile devices that will significantly shape this change.

We know that when a new platform comes along there is a rush to create content for it. But the industry often demonstrates some degree of anxiousness around questions of whether a new platform can deliver the critical mass of users and experiences needed to deliver profitability.

Recent examples include Apple’s Watch platform. Watching the consumer-mobile evolution unfold, however, mobile marketers can be certain that the smartphone - chief conduit to the consumer, and chief avenue by which users experience content - has already answered this central concern, and the device will continue to fuel and enable new ideas.

As the possibilities expand, the smartphone solidifies its place at the centre of connected and intelligent objects, proving its case as the core of an evolving ecosystem for developers and marketers alike. regularly posts content from a variety of guest writers across the games industry. These encompass a wide range of topics and people from different backgrounds and diversities, sharing their opinion on the hottest trending topics, undiscovered gems and what the future of the business holds.