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Don’t rush into the Internet of Things

Experts agree success only comes with proper investment and collaboration

The ‘internet of things’ that connects physical, everyday objects online represents a new frontier for marketers. But like any unexplored terrain, they must proceed with caution. This was the message from a panel of IoT experts that convened at Marketing’s AdTech Canada 2016 conference Tuesday morning.

While the opportunities that IoT could provide retailers and marketers are seemingly endless, so too are the potential pitfalls. Just as many internet users have rejected intrusive ads through ad blocking, they could choose to opt out of real-world marketing experiences enabled by the internet of things should they be poorly executed, intrusive or fail to provide value.

Devon Wright, the co-founder and CEO of Turnstyle Solutions, told the Ad Tech attendees that he knew of a client who purchased a million dollars-worth of beacons before devising a proper strategy to utilize them.

“It is really important to look at this as an ecosystem,” he said. “I’ve seen marketers not look at it as an ecosystem and try and do everything themselves.” It can be done this way, but the cost is high. “Knowing your specialization, where you fit in, and partnering outside of that is really important.”

Fellow panellist Nic Lopez, the head of emerging products and innovation marketing at Visa Canada, agreed, adding that IoT campaigns need to “close the loop” of the customer’s journey in order to be effective. The need for an end-to end solution emphasizes the importance of proper planning and collaboration in IoT campaigns, adds Lopez.

“We joke that there’s no ‘I’ in IoT,” said Lopez. “You need collaboration. Marketing can’t do it alone, nor IT. Everyone has to work together with agencies end-to-end.”

While interdepartmental collaboration is key to the success of IoT marketing campaigns, it’s also important to have strong backend infrastructure prepared to capture, store and utilize customer data.

“Just like you can spend money on the beacons and set up a store and set up a space, if you’re not getting proper information through that data, a majority of people are going to opt-out and your ROI will deteriorate,” said panellist Lisa Thomas, the senior manager of product enablement IoT for Rogers‘ Enterprise Business Unit. “You have to take some time and be a partner and invest in those backend analytics around the data that you’re getting from the thousands of beacons. You have to make sense of it in order to make that personalized customer relationship.”

The same is true with IoT security, added Thomas, suggesting that IoT projects are only worth pursuing once the safety of consumer data is assured.

“We really try to think about what’s really in the customer’s best interest when we’re launching these services, and proceeding with caution,” she said. “As with anything, the minute a security or data is breached, especially from a telco perspective, that’s game over in terms of our ability to continue.”

Pictured above (l-r): Kate Wilkinson, events editor, Marketing; Lisa Thomas, senior manager of produce enablement IoT, Rogers Enterprise Business Unit; Devon Wright, CEO, Turnstyle Solutions; Nic Lopez, head of emerging products and innovation marketing, Visa Canada.

Get an even deeper dive by looking at the AdTech Canada 2016 conference highlights in The Marketing Debrief.

Photography by Pam Lau
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