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Consumers connect the dots with the Internet of Things

(Image credit: Image Credit: Melpomene / Shutterstock)

Imagine a world where you can play music without touching a button, where thermostats can detect if someone is home and set the temperature accordingly, and where your car can literally drive itself. Not only is this possible, but in many ways it’s already happening, powered by the Internet of Things (IoT).

Understanding the Internet of Things 

Over the past decade, connectivity among devices and people has grown significantly, giving rise to the Internet of Things, which refers to any internet-connected device that can be operated from a remote location. 

To help marketers discover just how much consumers understand this trend and to help them plan for the future, Yahoo conducted a new study with some surprising findings: 

-Although technology has made it easier to connect devices, understanding of IoT is lagging

-While consumers adopt these devices for different reasons, they can be hesitant to purchase based on three key concerns: high cost, lack of need, and privacy 

For the brands building IoT products and services for consumers, there’s a chance to redefine their advertising campaigns. 

Education is essential

36% of consumers said they still don’t know what IoT is, but 70% of consumers indicated they owned a connected device. This means consumers own devices without understanding their full capabilities. 

In fact, nearly half of users are not aware that IoT devices can be connected together.

Not only is it important for marketers to better inform consumers about the devices they own, but it is also essential to educate non-adopters to increase awareness of available products and encourage them to purchase. 

Consumers are hungry for information: 41% of respondents said they were interested in learning more about the Internet of Things, particularly around pricing, benefits, and security. Brands have an opportunity to focus on these three messages in their advertising to provide consumers with the information they need to buy. 

Focus on product benefits

Beyond product attributes, brands must be able to answer one critical question in their marketing: how will the device improve the life of the consumer? 

The most common IoT devices owned are Entertainment Devices, including Video Game Consoles (38%), Smart TVs (30%), and Streaming/Connected TV devices (30%). This familiarity means consumers need less explanation about the offerings, but that’s not the case for emerging product areas. 

Interest is highest in Smart Automation, Smart Security Devices, and Smart Appliances but there is still confusion among consumers about their benefits. 

As a result of this, advertisers should spend more time focusing on efforts like content marketing to highlight and explain the benefits. Content marketing can help these brands go beyond just the product attributes and actually show consumers the value of these services through creative storytelling.

Reach the right consumers

Creative is only the first step. Make sure you’re hitting your target consumer in the right place, at the right time. IoT marketers can leverage data to enhance their audience targeting and make sure they’re engaging potential and existing customers with a tailored message. Whether you produce smart TVs or connected cars, make sure you’re getting in front of consumers now to explain why they should be purchasing your product. 

While many experts, including Yahoo’s David Pogue, see a big opportunity with the Internet of Things in the business sector, there is still huge growth potential among consumers. BI Intelligence predicts that consumers will spend $900M on the Internet of Things between 2015-2020 and will own 5 billion connected devices by 2020. 

The Internet of Things is growing at an astounding pace and it’s time for marketers to evolve their strategies. Ultimately, consumers don’t know what they don’t know, and they won’t buy your product unless they understand the utility and value it holds for them.   

Image Credit: Melpomene / Shutterstock

Sean Galligan
Sean is the Vice President of Entertainment and Tech/Telco at Yahoo.