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TapSense, a leading mobile ad exchange, continued its push into wearables with the announcement that it will launch a programmatic ad platform for the Apple Watch. Characterizing the move as an industry first, TapSense cofounder and CEO Ash Kumar described the platform as a “full suite of solutions for developers and brands to get started on the new Apple Watch platformm including SDK for app developers and programmatic APIs for brands, agencies, and marketers.”


This “coffee offer mockup” is one way TapSense imagines the Apple Watch could be used. Apple has yet to stipulate how developers will be able to interact with the device.

Touting wearables and the Internet of Things (IoT) as the next frontiers in the mobile revolution. Kumar said the move is in keeping with his company’s move away from banner ads, to next generation platforms. “Apple Watch has the potential to be a category disruptor similar to iPod or iPhone and we believe that it provides great opportunities for brands and developers to deliver engaging experiences to consumers,” Kumar said in making the announcement.

The industry is waiting with bated breath for Apple to unveil its Watchkit SDK. Until it does, it’s a matter of speculation as to how far the brand will allow third-party advertising to go. Ads on the watch face itself are a tantalizing proposition to marketers, and TapSense has gone so far as to “envision” this possibility (via the above graphic), but clarified following its initial announcement that insofar as it can ascertain, Apple’s WatchKit SDK, now in beta (as is the TapSense platform), currently “doesn’t provide developer access to watch faces.”

“As and when Apple makes the WatchKit guidelines available, we will review it carefully to ensure our SDK is both in compliance and approved by Apple,” TapSense further stated, after its initial news announcement created a bit of a stir.

Apple Pay Integration is another aspect of the watches that has sparked tremendous brand interest. Apple has announced that its watch will have full integration with Apple Pay. Describing hyper-local targeting as “the holy grail of mobile advertising,” TapSense says wearable devices show promise at unlocking this potential.

The new TapSense platform will allow the hyper-local coupons it delivers to be redeemed by consumers using their Apple Watch through readable barcodes scanned at the point of sale. Or, ads can be added to Passbook and then delivered to Apple Watch to be redeemed.

“As this reduces friction for the consumer, we believe this will have huge impact on brand lift and engagement. Also, marketers would be able to link their marketing spend accurately with offline purchases, which has been a difficult problem to solve until now,” Kumar said. The roadblock, as TapSense sees it, is that consumers have to “take their phones out of their pocket and unlock it before interacting with a local notification.”

Being worn on the wrist makes an Apple Watch or other wearables more accessible, and to the extent that they can leverage the GPS on an iPhone or other mobile device, all the better. Google’s Moto 360 smart watch, which began shipping in late 2014, part of the Android Wear line, is also a contender in the space.

“For an iOS developer, Apple WatchKit provides familiar tools and APIs as well as exciting new user interactions such as Glances and Force Push. Developing an app for the watch is the same as writing any iOS extension,” said Amit Manjhi, Co-Founder & CTO of TapSense. “We can’t wait to see all the cool apps that developers build and how they leverage the TapSense platform for Apple Watch.”

TapSense isn’t the only one that wants to accelerate the hands of time when it comes to the Apple Watch. The Indianapolis-based Marsh Supermarket Chain, with 70-plus outlets, announced that it has installed beacons in its stores that will allow it to target Apple Watch wearers while they are shopping on the premises.

TapSense is a leading independent mobile advertising exchange founded in 2011 and based in San Francisco. TapSense investors include top Silicon Valley venture firms, Ron Conway’s SV Angel and Webb Investment Network by Maynard Webb, a board member of Salesforce and Yahoo. TapSense was named one of the 2014 AlwaysOn Global 100 Companies to Watch.

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by Brandon Gutman
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Brandon is an expert connector and seasoned business development professional. As Principal of Brand Approved, he's led the advisory to become the bridge between brand marketers and best of breed service providers that are reshaping the industry.

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