How to Advertise on Apple Watch


Last week at CES in Las Vegas, some of the most-up-to-the-minute technologies were displayed, including curvy phones and TVs, more driverless and electric car technologies, virtual reality systems and wearables. With CES in our newsfeeds, and the most hotly anticipated wearable launch set for April, it’s time to discuss brand opportunities with Apple Watch.


Along with the tangible devices on display at CES, it seems a few companies were starting to claim their proficiency in Apple Watch advertising. This is interesting for a number of reasons.

  1. We know that tech best practice is to achieve significant scale before exploring ‘advertising’ opportunities, e.g. WhatsApp, SnapChat. Thus, any eager development of an Apple Watch tactic would be for a very niche audience of first movers and Ad-industry awards circuit junkies.
  2. The word ‘advertising’ implies something akin to a banner display with logo, image and message – the much hated junk mail of the internet. While there is a time and place for banners, e.g. YouTube companion ads, a tiny screen on a person’s wrist is likely not the best environment for the asset.
  3. While many of us are assuming the Apple Watch’s functionality, it seems to be a new way of interacting with apps and receiving push notifications. Regarding the latter, there are already too many not-so-important and unhelpful push notifications being fired at the consumer in the phone environment. Even fewer will be relevant for the intimate nature of a watch.
  4. ‘Advertising’ as a concept ignores what will likely be the most beneficial use of the Apple Watch in the near term – insights from a new source of consumer data. Marketers should be more eager about how much Apple will learn about wearers than how to sabotage a 2-inch screen on the wrist. The new watch will provide Apple with a wealth of data about health, movements, interactions, purchases, and more.

I’ve long hated the word ‘advertising’ and the antiquated agencies that simply want to create words, images and awkward logos that are shoved in front of consumers’ faces without the audiences’ desire to see the ‘content’. In 2015, the role of contemporary communications is to be, first and foremost, helpful – whether on a TV, Laptop, Tablet, Phone or Watch. Sabotaging consumers’ screens in an unhelpful manner is not the type of work we should be devoting our time toward, nor should we reward it with industry praise.

In short, you should NOT ‘advertise’ on the Apple Watch. Instead, brands should explore improving their consumers’ user journeys and interactions on the Apple Watch. Marketers should view the watch as one more digital interaction in the user journey, albeit much more intimate than a phone.

Contemporary communications, and wearable strategies for that matter, should be about being helpful - making the brand’s services easier to use, or creating an entirely new app that make life easier, or alleviating boredom with amazing content. Our objectives should be focused on finding new ways to improve our consumers’ lives, thus leading to their loyalty. It is not acceptable to simply splash a logo and image with boring copy in front of peoples’ eyes anymore. This might feed the production studios of our agencies, but it is a weak agency-serving strategy. So when your client starts to request a wearable strategy, remind him or her that this is a highly intimate environment and anything akin to what advertising was last year will not work. We need to be more creative and useful than ever before.

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