Watch out for the 4th screen: Exploring user attitudes towards location-based advertisements on smartwatches

Watch out for the 4th screen: Exploring user attitudes towards location-based advertisements on smartwatches

Kitti Alexandra Fabian

Working at an advertising agency has taught me a lot, but the one constant thing I have experienced during my career is change. The emergence of new platforms and different advertisement formats are a never ending cycle which brings both challenges and opportunities to advertisers and marketers alike.

When it was time to decide on my master thesis topic, I knew I wanted to focus on building on this knowledge and explore a potential advertising platform, smartwatches. More specifically, I wanted to focus on the user perspective since smartwatches as a device are known to be very personal to the user. Due to the proximity to the user´s body, smartwatches go where other devices don’t, which provides an opportunity in terms of location-based advertising. The goal was to find out how smartwatch users feel about advertisements appearing on their smartwatches, what factors affect their attitudes, what are their concerns and to paint a holistic overview of the phenomenon. Below you can see the overview of my research.

For some it might be hard to imagine advertisements on smartwatches, but through prototyping advertisement scenarios for smartwatches it was possible to realize these and test them with actual smartwatch users. Through interviews and focus group sessions, I discovered that the participants were open to receive location-based advertisements on their smartwatches, however their attitudes will be affected by the following factors: relevancy,
personalization, informativeness, privacy concerns, context (location, frequency, timing), perceived ease of use and attitude towards advertising in general.

Relevance became the most important factor which also includes the element of control, meaning that smartwatch users can provide feedback on the specific advertisement on their smartwatch. The final version of the prototypes may inspire and offer marketers four concepts of how advertising on smartwatches could look like, which were iterated with the valuable insights and opinions of smartwatch users. Therefore, the prototypes serve not only as research instruments, but as the final proposed concepts for marketers and advertisers.

The prototypes can be viewed under the below link:

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