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Can Brands Leverage IoT as an Additional Revenue Stream?

How Connected Everything Might Bring More Cash Flow to Brands

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Doug Ziewacz, head of North America media and advertising at Under Armour Connected Fitness, and Nathan Martin, CEO of Deeplocal, at the Ad Age Digital Conference on Wednesday.
Doug Ziewacz, head of North America media and advertising at Under Armour Connected Fitness, and Nathan Martin, CEO of Deeplocal, at the Ad Age Digital Conference on Wednesday. Credit: Rob Tannenbaum

To hear some marketers tell it, the novelty of collecting data from IoT devices has worn off, and brands may soon look to connected devices to create additional revenue streams.

"When we first started collecting data, it was interesting," Doug Ziewacz, head of North America media and advertising at Under Armour Connected Fitness, said Wednesday at Ad Age's Digital Conference. "As we move forward, consumers are going to expect how to make sense of all the data."

Mr. Ziewacz hinted that Under Armour -- through its partnerships with IBM Watson -- might one day provide its consumers data regarding how often they are getting sick or the impact they are having from lack of sleep. "In health, it has been largely restrictive and this is just through the lens of health and fitness," he said.

But first brands must create connected products that actually fill a consumer need.

Azania Andrews, senior director of digital connections of Anheuser-Busch North America, referred to Bud Light's "Bud-E Fridge," which shows drinkers real-time data on from how much beer is stocked to when it will be cold.

"We are trying to understand how to impact consumers' lives in meaningful ways," Ms. Andrews said. "It was interesting to see what people were doing with our products -- like what time they are buying things and when -- it is a wealth of knowledge."

"I think you will see a move of brands starting to look at this space as a new revenue stream," she added. "We didn't make a fridge initially to make a ton of money, but in a year or two, it can make revenue, absolutely."

If that's going to happen, brands will also have to make sure consumer data is protected.

"This is the new frontier for hackers," said Peter Corbett, founder and CEO of iStrategyLabs. "It isn't the marketer's job to inform consumers; we have to sell stuff, but someone should have that role."

Mr. Corbett added consumers will need to do their homework on how to protect their connected devices from drive-by hackers who can force their way into a user's network and take control of everything from connected cameras to the person's coffee maker.

"It can backfire," Mr. Ziewacz said. "If you are really in a place you weren't invited to, you gain a loss of trust."

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