Fast Forward: How Brands Can Start Preparing For Apple’s Business Chat

Editor’s Note: This is an abridged version of our actionable intelligence products. For the full version, please contact our Director of Strategy Adam Simon ([email protected]) to join our newsletter subscription.

What Apple Shared

During a developer session on Friday afternoon, Apple shared some more details about Business Chat, an upcoming feature in iOS 11 that will allow businesses to communicate with customers via Messages, the default messaging app on Apple devices. We briefly mentioned this feature in our in-depth analysis of this year’s WWDC event, but this session provided us with a full set of feature specifications and a roadmap for brands to prepare for the public roll-out of Business Chat, which will occur sometime next year.

First up, Apple specified that Business Chat will be accessible through a “Message” button placed next to the “Call” button currently shown in the business information card found in Apple Maps, Safari search results, Spotlight search results, and Siri responses. Deep-link URLs linking to a specific Business Chat account will also be available for business to embed “Message” buttons into websites and apps so as to drive conversations.

Apple stressed that customers will have to be the ones to initiate the chat, but once they did, businesses are free to provide updates and send other messages. Business Chat conversations are saved as long-lived sessions, meaning that there will be no need for reintroductions and re-briefing when customers re-engage with a business, as they will be identified with an anonymized token ID with all previous chat interactions available for review.

Brands that wish to use Business Chat will need to apply for a Business Chat account and also use a supporting Customer Support Platform (CSP) to help route the inquiries and manage the customer data. According to Apple, there are four CSP services that have already integrated with Business Chat — LivePerson, Salesforce, Nuance and Genesys, meaning that businesses using these CSPs will be able to manage Business Chat using the tools they are already familiar with.

Business Chat also comes with a set of built-in features for businesses to provide a good customer experience. Besides general support for sending texts, images, videos, and documents as users usually can in Messages, it also includes a Time Picker that facilitates setting up appointments (which can also be integrated with EventKit to weed out conflicts with existing calendar events), a List Picker that offers a visual way to present a list of options for customers to choose from, and Apple Pay integration that allows for one-touch payments.

More interestingly, brands can use the iMessage App Framework to integrate iMessage apps into a Business Chat experience to deliver specific services, such as picking out seats in a theater, checking delivery progress, or even playing mini-games. However, Apple made no mention of chatbots, so it remains unclear if there will be a way for brands to automate any interactions within Business Chat.

Why Brands Should Care

The introduction of Business Chat marks an important step for Apple to open its default messaging app to businesses to connect with millions of Apple users, who are spending a significant amount of their mobile screen time in the Message app. According to eMarketer, 34% of all U.S. mobile users are currently using Apple’s Message app, making it the second most popular messaging app in the States after Facebook Messenger.

In fact, one could argue that the main reason that Apple started to add business-friendly features, starting with last year’s introduction of the third-party iMessage app, is to keep up with Facebook and make its messaging platform capable of meeting user’s increasing demand to communicate with businesses. Several studies and surveys have indicated that today’s mobile users would rather text than call. And brands need to be proactively embracing message apps to keep up with the shift in consumer behavior.

What Brands Need To Do

As Apple laid out at the end of the briefing, there are three things that brands can do today to prepare for the official launch of Business Chat:

  1. Start creating customer support experience with Business Chat SandboxApple release a Business Chat Sandbox tool for businesses and developers to test Business Chat Developer Preview on iOS 11. With it, brands can test out the built-in features they choose to integrate and customize the design elements of their chat experiences. They can also use it to test the JSON payloads before and after implementation. Developers can sign in to Business Chat Sandbox with their iCloud account and start testing.
  2. Connect with a supporting Customer Service PlatformBecause all user messages for Business Chat are required to be routed through a Customer Service Platform (CSP) after passing through Apple’s own Business Chat server, it is important that brands that are not currently using the four aforementioned CSPs start connecting their support platforms to one of them.
  3. Apply now for early access to beta testingBrands can now apply for early access to the Business Chat Developer Preview at this webpage, so that when Business Chat enters beta testing, they can be one of the first to start testing it internally with whitelisted employees. This way, once the feature is ready for public rollout, your brand would be ready to jump in on the iOS Message app and reach millions of iOS users, who also happen to be the high-value mobile users.


How We Can Help

The Lab has extensive experience in building Alexa Skills and chatbots to reach consumers on conversational platforms. So much so that we’ve built a dedicated conversational practice called Dialogue. The NiroBot we built in collaboration with Ansible for Kia is a good example of how Dialogue can help brands build a conversational customer experience,

If you’d like to learn more about how to effectively reach consumers on conversational platforms, or to leverage the Lab’s expertise to take on related client opportunities within the IPG Mediabrands, please contact our Director of Strategy Adam Simon ([email protected]) to schedule a visit to the Lab.


Apple Adds In-Episode Analytics To Podcast For Better Audience Measurement

What Happened
As Apple announced at the WWDC event last week, the dedicated Podcast app will receive a makeover in the upcoming iOS 11. Now more details have emerged about this impending update, which will bring a new interface as well as some changes to how podcasts can be structured for better presentation. Users will also be able to download a full season of podcasts at once to get their fill.

More importantly, Apple is finally opening up the in-episode analytics of podcasts for content creators beyond simple episode downloads, which will allow podcasters to get detailed information such as how many people have listened to a particular episode and where listeners stop or skip.

The iOS podcast app, although only one of the many, many channels for podcast distribution, is arguably the most popular app for listening to podcasts. In fact, a 2016 survey found that Apple-device podcast downloads outpace Android downloads at a rate of 5.4 to 1. Overcast, another p0pular podcast app, launched its own in-app display ads earlier this year to help podcasters monetize their content.

What Brands Need To Do
According to a recent report by Edison Research, over 35 million people listened to podcasts weekly in 2016. The same report also found that U.S. podcast listeners on average earn $10,000 more than the average American, making them a highly valuable customer base for brands to target.

Yet, despite the sizable high-value audience base, many brands have been hesitant to explore podcast advertising due to its lack of accountable ROI measurement. This important update to the podcast app should spark some new interests to podcast advertising, as the in-episode analytics will allow podcasters to provide more accurate audience measurement, such as how many listeners actually listened to the episodes they downloaded and whether or not they skipped the sponsors’ messages. In a sense, it partially solves the “viewability issue” for podcast ads, giving brands more reassurance to try out podcast advertising.

These newly added metrics, which brands will need to work with podcast creators to access, should provide more transparency and clarity to podcast advertisers regarding their campaigns. In addition, brands with their own branded podcasts should leverage it to access better measurement to gauge user interests and engagements.


Source: Re/code

Fast Forward: Everything Brands Need To Know About Apple’s 2017 WWDC

Editor’s Note: As an abridged version of our actionable intelligence products, this post only includes generic suggestions for brand marketers. For the full version, completed with features on our trend-setting partners and industry-specific analysis, please contact our Director of Strategy Adam Simon ([email protected]) to join our newsletter subscription.

The highlights:

  • iOS 11 Brings P2P Payment, Business Chat, Extended NFC Access, & More

  • Apple Launches ARKit, An AR Platform For iOS

  • New macOS Brings VR Creation Support & Better Browsing Experience

  • Siri Rebranded As Apple’s Intelligence Engine, Will Power Upcoming HomePod Speaker


We will be hosting a special briefing call on Thursday, June 8 at 11 a.m. ET to recap this event, what it means for brands, and to answer your questions live. If you’d like to attend, please sign up here.

Apple kicked off its annual worldwide developer conference (WWDC) on Monday at the San Jose convention center. CEO Tim Cook and several other Apple executives took the stage to unveil altogether six big announcements, ranging from new software, new developer tools for VR and AR, a new iPad Pro, and the rumored Siri-powered smart speaker. This event marks Apple’s official entry into the conversational hardware market and offers a glimpse at Apple’s AI strategies moving forward. To delve into the details of the hundreds of new features announced on Monday, check out this round-up on 9to5Mac. What follows is our exclusive take on what these announcements meant for brands and marketers.

iOS 11 Brings P2P Payment, Business Chat, NFC Support, And More

As in years past, Apple previewed the next-gen iOS on stage on Monday. Out of the dozens of redesigns and new features coming to the iPhone and iPad, the ones that we singled out here all bear significant implications for brand marketers.

First up, iOS 11 comes with a revamped Messages app, which will make iMessage Apps more easily discoverable with a swipeable app bar, integration with Apple Pay to support easy peer-to-peer payments, and allow for seamlessly syncing messages across Apple devices with iCloud sign-in. Apple also announced Apple Pay Cash, its own digital debit card that lets recipients of P2P payments transfer the cash to a bank account or spend it at ecommerce sites and physical retail stores.

This new P2P payment feature in iMessage could just be the viral hook that Apple needs to get more iPhone users to adopt Apple Pay. Once users start to use it for paying back family and friends, they would presumably be more likely to try out Apple Pay in retail and other contexts as well. Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, said that half of U.S. retailers will offer Apple Pay by the end of the year.

Apple is also set to introduce a Business Chat feature in iOS 11. While not given any time during the opening keynote, Apple’s developer site indicates that users will be able to chat with a business for customer support and more within Messages. The conversations are started via search in Safari, Maps, Spotlight, and with Siri, and will integrate with Apple Pay (for additional purchases) and Calendar (for appointment scheduling). A clear challenge to Facebook Messenger and Twitter’s customer service use cases, the Lab will be closely watching the session describing functionality and availability of Business Chat this Friday, and will update you once we have more details.

In addition, Apple is expanding its NFC capabilities, allowing developers to access iPhone’s built-in NFC chip for triggering app actions and notifications via a Core NFC framework. However, this function is only viable once the third-party app in question is open, protecting Apple Pay’s privileged position to be opened straight from the lock screen.

While the main camera app will not feature built-in AR functionality in iOS 11, Apple is giving it support for scanning QR codes, which will have the ability to open web pages, or deep-link directly into an installed app using Universal App Links.

Some smaller but noteworthy updates coming in iOS 11 include:

• The App Store is getting a graphic-heavy revamp, breaking games and non-game apps into separate tabs and highlights notable apps with “Editor’s Choices.”

• Apple News is getting support for in-article videos, allowing publishers to get more eyeballs on their video content and, presumably, monetize the attention with ads.

• iOS 11 also bring a significant boost to iPad’s productive use cases with a revamped App Switcher, updated multitasking and file management, and a new “drag-and-drop” feature across apps for the new iPad Pro models.

• Indoor mapping is coming to Apple Maps, allowing it to provide on-premise navigation and in-venue search for select malls and airports around the world.

A developer preview of iOS 11 is available to iOS developers starting Monday, with a public beta set to roll out later this month. iOS 11 will become available to all users as a free software update this fall, presumably with the launch of this year’s new iPhones.

Apple Launches ARKit, The Designated AR Platform For iOS

Apple is catching up with the rapid AR development by launching ARKit, allowing app developers to bring advanced augmented reality capabilities to their iOS apps, including facial recognition, simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM), and ambient lighting estimation.

During the ARKit demo, Apple showcased easily placing 3D virtual objects on a tabletop, an improved version of Pokemon Go, and an explosion-filled AR video game created by Wingnut AR. The debut of ARKit shows Apple is determined to keep up with its main competitors, namely Google with its Tango AR platform and the newly announced Google Lens feature, and also Facebook with its upcoming Camera Effects platform. ARKit will run on iPhone 6S and later, as well as first-gen iPad Pro and later.

Although the ARKit won’t include tools for object recognition out of the box, it does support importing a third-party library for recognizing objects. This means that even though Apple is coming up short on object recognition in AR for now, developers can roll their own object-recognizing AR features with some outside help and integrate it easily into their iOS apps.

New macOS Brings VR Support & Better Browsing Experience

On the PC front, Apple unveiled the new macOS named High Sierra, which mostly polishes last year’s macOS Sierra and improves performances with updates to core macOS apps like Photos and Mail.

One significant addition that High Sierra brings to Mac users is support for VR content creation. Long absent from the VR landscape, Apple has updated its graphic frameworks to support popular VR platforms from Valve, Unity, and Unreal, allowing developers to create cross-platform VR experience on Mac devices for the first time. On the consumer front, Apple also announced that it has partnered with Valve to bring SteamVR and HTC Vive support to the Mac, starting Monday in beta. The Vive and the developer tools will support the latest iMacs, released Monday, as well as recent MacBook Pros utilizing an external graphics card solution. In addition, a new tier of desktop computers, the iMac Pro, will ship this December with workstation-class performance for the most demanding VR developers.

High Sierra also included several updates to its built-in Safari browser which will impact publishers and advertisers. The new Safari will block autoplay videos from playing on sites that are not dedicated video sites such as YouTube, prevent some ad tracking by using machine learning to segregate the cross-site trackers, and offer an always-on reader mode that users can activate to strip out the non-essential content on web pages. Altogether, these upgrades will make the new Safari “80% faster than Chrome” on a macOS device, offering laptop and desktop users a superior browsing experience while minimizing disruptive ads.

This move mirrors Google’s announcement last week that it will start adding an ad-blocker in Chrome starting early 2018 that will filter out ads that are deemed “annoying” by the standards of Coalition for Better Ads. Together, Safari (10%) and Chrome (51%) make up most of the desktop search market in the U.S., according to comScore, and over 68% of mobile traffic in the U.S. With both popular browsers cracking down on “bad ads” with preinstalled ad-filters, it is imperative that brands and publishers take measures to ensure the visibility of their ads.

Siri Rebranded As Apple’s Intelligence Engine, Will Power HomePod

One of the more subtle yet significant changes Apple announced during Monday’s opening keynote was a rebranding of Siri’s role in Apple’s ecosystem. No longer a mere voice assistant, Siri Intelligence is now the A.I. engine that powers most of the personalization and optimization features in Apple’s apps and service. Whether it’s the personalized recommendations in Apple News or the new predictive watch face layout on the new watchOS 4, Siri has become Apple’s consumer-facing Intelligence service.

Apple bragged about Siri’s natural language capabilities and alluded to a limited number of new “intents” that can be leveraged by third-party apps. Siri is also getting some handy translation skills, allowing English speakers to ask Siri to translate a sentence into several other languages including Chinese, German, Italian, Spanish, and French at launch.

Siri will also be what powers the new HomePod, Apple’s first entry into the smart speaker market. To differentiate it from the existing smart speakers such as Amazon Echo and Google Home, Apple is positioning the HomePod as a high-end wireless speaker designed for music lovers, stressing how its eight independent tweakers and spatial awareness make for a superior acoustic experience.

As opposed to Amazon’s cloud-based approach to AI processing, Apple has chosen to keep its AI services on devices, which improves user privacy but could limit Siri’s capabilities. With voice-based smart devices approaching the mainstream, Apple will need to make Siri significantly smarter and more capable in order to make the HomePod a viable competitor to the Echo, which currently commands over 70% of the U.S. voice-controlled smart speaker market. It seems that Apple knows this, as Apple’s positioning reflects that, focusing HomePod more at the high-end Sonos platform than the lower-priced Echo and Google Home.

More significantly, Apple is getting ready to unleash the full force of machine learning to iOS apps with the debut of CoreML. Utilized across a number of Apple products, including Siri, Camera, and QuickType, and available for developers to deploy within their own apps, this framework promises lightning fast performance with easy integration of machine learning models, allowing iOS apps to add a variety of intelligent features with just a few lines of code. Apple does offer sample models for use with their machine learning libraries, including three different models that can each recognize 1000 types of objects: Notably, it supports the Keras format, which is native to the Google-owned TensorFlow AI platform.

For example, the Vision API will allow developers to build applications which use face tracking, object tracking, and barcode detection. This will no doubt go hand in hand with Apple’s AR push, allowing more apps to add Snapchat-like camera effects and other camera-based mobile AR features.

Another important API from the CoreML bundle is the Natural Language API, which allows brands to add natural language processing capability to their apps. The API supports a tokenization method for picking out certain keywords out of free-styled sentences, allowing it to understand user intent correctly regardless of how a user phrases the request. It enables more developers to build conversational interfaces into their apps for an engaging user experience, or simply as an additional support tool for customer support.

What Brands Need To Do

Taken together, Apple’s announcements at this year’s WWDC are more or less about catching up with its competitors such as Google, Amazon, and Facebook, across a variety of domains ranging from AR to VR, from messaging to voice-controlled home devices. Nonetheless, by the virtue of being Apple, these rather “uninnovative” updates nonetheless spell great opportunities for brands to reach millions of iOS users in whole new ways.

In response, brands should consider:

• Leveraging new APIs to add AR and machine learning capabilities to branded apps & design mobile activations/campaigns.
• Figuring out how to integrate with Business Chat to bring customer support and brand presence to Message, the default messaging platform for millions of iOS users.
• Improving online ad experiences and explore newer, unblockable ad formats, such as in-feed videos, branded content, and sponsored selfie lenses. Tests the site experience with Reader mode on.

(For more detailed brand suggestions, each tailored to your industry, please reach out to join our mailing list for Fast Forward.)

How We Can Help

While mobile AR, VR, and machine learning are all still in early stages of development, brands can greatly benefit by starting to develop strategies for these two emerging areas. If you’re not sure where to start, the Lab is here to help.

The Lab has always been fascinated by the enormous potential of AR and its ability to transform our physical world. We’re excited that Apple is bringing AR features to iOS devices as it enables iOS developers to create AR experiences that reach millions of users. Even the addition of a QR code reader in the camera app spells great potential for marketers to take advantage of. If you’d like to discuss more about how your brand can properly harness the power of AR to engage your customers and create extra value, please reach out and get in touch with us.

As for VR, our dedicated team of experts is here to guide marketers through the distribution landscape. We work closely with brands to develop sustainable VR content strategies to promote branded VR and 360 video content across various apps and platforms. With our proprietary technology stack powered by a combination of best-in-class VR partners, we offer customized solutions for distributing and measuring branded VR content that truly enhance brand messaging and contribute to the campaign objectives.

Machine learning is the marketing buzzword of the year, yet very few marketers truly understand how to leverage it to optimize campaigns and business practices. The Lab has been keeping an close eye on the development on machine learning and artificial intelligence, and how brands can apply relevant tools to provide a superior customer experience. And if you’re confused about the distinction between machine learning and artificial intelligence, you should probably get in touch with us.  

If you’d like to know how the Lab can help your brand figure out how to tap into these tech trends coming out of Apple’s WWDC this year to supercharge your marketing efforts, please contact our Director of Strategy Adam Simon ([email protected]) to schedule a visit to the Lab.


What To Expect From Apple’s 2017 WWDC Event

Apple is set to kick off this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) with a keynote presentation on Monday at the San Jose Convention Center. Historically, the WWDC events are typically dedicated to introducing software updates, covering iOS and macOS, as well as tvOS and watchOS in recent years. On this front, Apple is expected to unveil the next iteration of iOS, with enhanced security and productive features, along with a refreshed design. The other OS’es should receive their respective updates as well, although details have been scarce.

Notably, however, this may be the year when Apple announces a new hardware product at WWDC, as reports on Apple starting production for a Siri-enabled smart speakers started to emerge earlier this week. The Cupertino company has long been speculated to be working on an Amazon Echo competitor, and Monday could be the moment of truth for Apple to reveal its first conversational smart home product.

For now, the Echo lineup dominates the smart speaker market with an impressive 70.6% market share, according to an eMarketer study. Late to the market, Apple will have to produce a superior user experience and significantly improve Siri’s capabilities in order to catch up.

As always, the Lab team will be watching the event live on Monday and bringing you all the marketing-related implications coming out of Apple’s announcement. Follow us on Twitter @ipglab for our live updates, and remember to check back later this week for our in-depth analysis of all the things marketers need to know.


Source: The Verge & Bloomberg


Apple Acquires Sleep-Tracking Firm Beddit To Dive Deeper Into Sleep Tech

What Happened
Apple has acquired a Finnish sleep tech company called Beddit, which makes a sleep monitoring device which tracks heart rate, breathing, and sleep cycles. Users can download its iOS app for further analysis of their sleep data. The terms of the deal have not been disclosed, but it certainly indicates Apple’s ambition in expanding its sleep-related products and software features.  

What Brands Need To Do
As we witnessed at this year’s CES, sleep tech is booming and quickly becoming a key growth area for many tech, lifestyle, and fitness companies. Now with Apple jumping into the ring, we expect to see more innovations pop up in the sleep tech sector. This emerging trend opens up a new product category for brands to explore. Integrating biometric data into your brand’s existing digital ecosystem will bring a better understanding of your customers and their habits, allowing brands to offer a holistic lifestyle product with added value to customers.


Source: VentureBeat

Apple Makes Siri More Competent With Latest iOS Update

What Happened
Apple upgraded Siri with some noteworthy new features in its latest iOS update, making it more competitive with rival digital assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant that are quickly gaining grounds thanks to their comprehensive features and growing popularity of smart speakers. With Apple’s full rollout of its iOS 10.3 update on Tuesday, Siri now supports a wider range of app actions, including paying and checking bills via payment apps, booking rides from ride-hailing apps, checking car fuel, turning on connected lights, and several features for controlling connected devices.

What Brands Need To Do
We are merely at the beginning of a long battle where major tech companies race against each other to push their own digital assistant service as the default choice for customers so as to secure the user base, which will become particularly crucial once we move past the mobile era and enter the IoT era where most of our digital interactions happen on screenless connected devices that rely on voice-based conversational interfaces.

For brands, the new developments in voice-based assistants herald an impending sea change in customer-brand interactions, which brands will have to start preparing for today by figuring out a conversational strategy and find a way to integrate their brands into conversational platforms. For example, last week, Marriott reportedly started testing both Siri and Alexa to figure out which digital assistant is more competent to control the smart devices in its hotel rooms. Whichever one of two the hotel chain eventually decides on, the real winner will be the Marriott customers that get enjoy a modernized hotel experience.

How We Can Help
The Lab has extensive experience in building Alexa Skills and chatbots to reach consumers on conversational interfaces. So much so that we’ve built a dedicated conversational practice called Dialogue. The “Miller Time” Alexa Skill we developed with Drizly for Miller Lite is a good example of how Dialogue can help brands build a conversational customer experience, supercharged by our stack of technology partners with best-in-class solutions and an insights engine that extracts business intelligence from conversational data.

If you’d like to learn more about how to effectively reach consumers on conversational interfaces, or to leverage the Lab’s expertise to take on related client opportunities within the IPG Mediabrands, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Holland ([email protected]) to schedule a visit to the Lab.


Source: GeoMarketing

Siri Gains First Official Movie Tie-In, Sets Precedent For Paid Answers

What Happened
Apple sets a precedent for sponsored Siri answers today as Siri gains its first official movie tie-in with answers for the Universal Pictures-produced The Secret Life of Pets. To promote the iTunes store release of the movie, Apple collaborated with Universal Pictures to added 15 programmed responses to Siri for the question, “What do my Pets do when I’m not at home?” According to Apple, this move marks the first time “Apple has collaborated on a home entertainment title and the first time Siri has been programmed to interact with an iTunes movie title.”

What Brands Should Do
As voice-activated personal assistant services like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant continue to gain momentum and infiltrate consumer’s daily lives, it is laying the groundwork for an emerging media channel that allows brands to talk to consumers directly, creating a new paradigm for human-computer interaction thanks to its efficiency and convenience. With consumers increasingly familiar with this type of interface, it is only natural that brand advertisers should follow suit. And Apple’s move to open up Siri for movie tie-ins seems to indicate more brand opportunities to come on iOS.

For more information on how brands can take advantage of the rise of conversational interfaces, please check out the Conversational Interfaces section in our Outlook 2016.


Source: 9to5Mac

Brands Are Jumping On Apple’s App Store Search Ads

What Happened
Several big-name brands have started using Apple’s recently launched Search Ads to drive download for their iOS apps. The app-install ads, officially rolled out in early October, which enables developers to promote their apps at the top of relevant search results in the App Store. So far, brands including Domino’s and Amazon have been using Search Ads to target users, especially those who search for their competitors’ apps. According to mobile marketing platform Singular, Search Ads has a mobile conversion rate of 4.9%, a much higher rate than regular app-install ads.

What Brands Should Do
By buying against competitor apps and relevant keywords, the aforementioned brands find a clever way to surface their apps to a targeted audience that is actively searching for products or services in their respective categories. In order to stand out in the over 2 million apps currently available in the App Store, brands seeking to engage mobile users via branded apps should consider buying Search Ads to give their apps a boost.


Source: AdWeek

Fast Forward: Everything From Apple’s iPhone 7 Event That Brands Need To Know

Your guide to tech-driven changes in the media landscape by IPG Media Lab. A fast read for you and a forward for your clients and team.

The Highlights:

  • New dual-lens camera on iPhone 7 Plus opens the door for improved AR and 3D scanning.
  • Apple Watch Nike+ shows possibility for other brands to partner with Apple for branded products or Watch faces.
  • iOS 10 will be available next Tuesday, with the new, extensible iMessage, cross-device Apple Pay, and an option for limiting ad-tracking.


What Apple Announced

Apple kicked off its September press event on Wednesday in San Francisco with a two-hour keynote presentation. The Verge has great coverage of all the announcements that Apple made today. The announcements from the keynote that are relevant to brands and marketers include:

  • Apple eliminated the headphone jack and introduced wireless earphones called Apple AirPods, which come with tap-to-enable Siri support and should further familiarize consumers with voice-activated conversational interfaces.
  • The iPhone 7 Plus features a dual-lens camera that enables a new depth-of-field effect and opens the door for improved augmented reality (AR) and 3D scanning.
  • Apple announced APIs for capturing and editing Live Photos, allowing app developers to take advantage of the animated format.
  • The new Apple Watch Series 2 features faster app launch times, built-in GPS, and a “swim-proof” design.
  • Apple partnered with Nike to introduce a special Apple Watch Nike+, complete with personalized motivations for runners and custom NIke-branded watch faces.
  • The upcoming Mario game for iOS may be most notable now due to something not mentioned in the keynote: it features a “Notify” button in the App Store today, and tapping it will send a notification when the app becomes available.
  • iOS 10 will be available on September 13, bringing new features such as extended Apple Pay support, revamped iMessage, Siri support in third-party apps, and an option for limiting online ad-tracking.

FF iPhone 7 - cover

What Brands Need To Do

Get Ready For iOS 10
With its official release set for next Tuesday, iOS 10 will bring some of the most immediate changes and opportunities that brands need to get ready for. For starters, Siri support for third-party apps should come as welcome news as it enables brands to further integrate their services into Apple’s ecosystem. If they are in one of the supported domains like messaging or payments, branded apps should be extended to work via voice control.

The new iMessage allows brands to develop messaging-based apps as well as sell stickers based on their IP to promote their content in Apple’s native messaging app. iMessage Apps will be great for casual games and collaboration and particularly appealing to entertainment brands.

The new “Limit Ad Tracking” setting will make ad tracking and targeting for brand advertisers more difficult as it anonymizes the user’s IDFA. This presents a good reason for brands to shift towards a social-heavy media mix for mobile campaigns, as most ads on social networks are targeted by user profile and are therefore immune to this update. For more brand implications brought by iOS 10, check out our analysis on this year’s WWDC event.

Explore AR Possibilities
The dual-lens camera on the iPhone 7 Plus is an exciting addition because it opens the door for developing improved depth sensing and therefore new AR and 3D-scanning capabilities that brands will be able to create. For example, a CPG brand could develop an app that allows users to 3D scan their products and packaging and launch interactive digital experiences based on that.

For home improvement brands, the improved depth sensing would transform iPhones into a powerful preview tool for augmented reality-based customization, with more automation and less fiddling than what IKEA has in its AR preview app to allow customers to check if furniture they want would fit in their room. As dual-lens cameras become more widely available on mobile devices, brands will have more opportunities for leveraging AR technologies to create engaging experiences for mobile users. FF iPhone 7 - dual-lens camera

Consider Branded Tech Products
Apple’s partnership with Nike to create the Apple Watch Nike+ that specifically targets running enthusiasts signals Apple’s willingness to team up with select brands to develop branded products and features. In addition, Apple also has a standing partnership with luxury brand Hermès for the Apple Watch Hermès that comes with leather band and custom watch faces.

Besides Apple, we have seen examples of brands creating branded consumer tech products as part of their brand marketing efforts. Last year, Pepsi worked with Chinese phone manufacturer Koobee to create limited edition Pepsi-branded smartphones. In India, KFC created a meal box that doubles as a phone charger. The bottom line is a branded tech gadget is an underutilized way for brands to get the attention of today’s consumers, and more brands should consider exploring such partnerships.Apple Watch Nike+

How We Can Help

Please contact Client Services Director Samantha Holland ([email protected]) at the IPG Media Lab if you would like more detail or want to schedule a visit to the Lab to discuss how your brand may benefit from integrating with Apple’s ecosystem, particularly in messaging and in the living room with Apple TV.

For previous editions of Fast Forward, please visit Please reply with any constructive criticism or feedback. We want these to be as useful as possible for you and your clients, and your input will help us immensely.


Apple’s iPhone 7 Event Preview: What Marketers Should Look Out For

Apple is holding its annual iPhone event on Wednesday in San Francisco, and based on the early reports and leaked intelligence, the new iPhone 7 will undoubtedly be the star of the show. Here is a roundup of things that marketers should look out for tomorrow from Apple’s press event.

iPhone 7 To Make Push For Siri & Conversational Interfaces
By all accounts, Apple will be unveiling the next-gen iPhones, which will come with faster processors and bigger storages, but won’t look that much different than the iPhone 6 and 6s – save for two important changes.

To start with, the new iPhone 7 Plus will reportedly be equipped with a dual-lens camera, which will unlock some more advanced photography features for consumers. The iPhone 7 will also most likely come without a 3.5mm headphone jack, which could boost the usage of wireless headphones. This, coupled with the extended functionality of Siri thanks to the new SiriKit, could encourage iPhone users to interact with Siri more and help familiarize them with the type of conversational interfaces that are changing the way consumers interact with brands. (For more on this topic, check out the in-depth analysis in our 2016 Outlook.)

Faster Apple Watch With Built-in GPS
Besides a new iPhone, Apple is also set to release an Apple Watch update that will reportedly launch apps seven times faster and come with a built-in GPS for more accurate fitness tracking. As Apple continues to improve its wearable products, brands in the healthcare and fitness, athletic wear, or other fitness-adjacent fields should consider developing an Apple Watch app to reach their target audiences.

New Softwares Extend Apple Pay Support
Along with the annual September event, the new Apple operating systems announced at this year’s WWDC will come out of beta testing and become available for the masses. One significant feature these upgrades will bring is the ability to use Apple Pay across iPhone, Apple Watch, and the Safari browser on Mac computers, enabling Apple Pay users to complete their online orders seamlessly regardless of the device they are using. For more marketing implications the software upgrades are set to bring, check out our Fast Forward analysis on the 2016 WWDC event.

One more thing, maybe?
Apple has been reportedly working on a variety of projects that range from self-driving cars to AR products, but none of them appear to be anywhere near ready to be publicly announced at the moment. Still, don’t be too shocked if Apple decides to surprise the world with a “one-more-thing” type of announcement.

Don’t forget to check back tomorrow to read our take on Apple’s announcements.


Sources: Bloomberg & 9to5Mac & The Verge