Is marketing in your driver seat?

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Colin Gibbs, the Gigaom Research curator for mobile, has some well-chosen words on Bluetooth-based mobile marketing. In brief, he warns against heavy push marketing, lack of clear opt out, and messages without value to recipients. (For more on the mobile customer experience, see our new Gigaom Research report.)

But Colin’s concern could well be applied beyond Apple’s iBeacon transmitter and mobile products in general. The Internet of Things and the ‘connected car’ are rapidly bringing this challenge and a potential marketing deluge to ever more nooks and crannies in people’s lives. This week’s Mobile World Congress is bringing a slew of new communications products for automobiles. The description of a new partnership between SAP and BMW is emblematic of how readily new capabilities can be flooded with the potential for ever more advertising–and ever more personalized advertising–to consumers.

The potential revenue from such ads is no doubt substantial and some new forms of advertising will eventually become pervasive. But what does it make of the consumer experience? What does it say about the brand that becomes a leading-edge vessel for yet more advertising? How much of a product’s new communications capability is destined to become an interactive billboard? And how much of a company’s innovation will be focused on treating its customers like eyeballs, with their attention sold to the highest bidder?

The Internet of Things will prove a powerful force pulling marketers, and hence companies, ever closer to the media business. But most companies will be better off remembering what business they are in. As they add new communications capabilities to their products, they should look and listen through the eyes and ears of their customers–customers who should remain in the driver’s seat for the road ahead.