Could the Internet of Things change the world of marketing?

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the capability of digital technology to distribute and influence the day-to-day lives of both organisations and individuals.1 The term was first coined by Kevin Ashton in 19992 and there have been numerous interpretations of the term since.

Brian Underdahl explained it as device-to-device communication whilst Kevin Doyle described it as “inert objects [which] would be able to use sensors to communicate with their external environment”4. The overall premise relates to devices which can connect to the internet to communicate with one another in order to benefit the end user.

The basic idea is that any object can become a computer if it is connected to the internet5. It remains to be seen as to whether this “disruption” is positive or negative, as there is a lot of evidence to sway the result either way. What is definite is that organisations are trying to utilise IoT in order to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the organisation as a whole6.

The Internet of Things has revolutionised both organisations’ and the consumer’s world, whilst creating huge opportunities in the economy7. Everyday items which were once comprised of just cogs and basic mechanisms are now more complex than ever8. Using specific tools and utilising the knowledge that the Internet of Things brings will significantly improve an organisation’s chances of success9.

It’s the smart capabilities that differentiate a product and introduce it to the Internet of Things “network”10

How could digital marketing prosper?

IoT devices are becoming more and more apparent in day-to-day life. Products such as Fitbit activity trackers, smart phones, smart houses, and even smart fridges are becoming more commonplace.

With IoT offering unique insight into a consumer’s life, it could certainly prove to be invaluable for marketers. With the correct targeting and usage, it will give agencies and businesses alike the opportunity to build a greater understanding of the customers they are targeting. For example, if cars were to adopt the premise of IoT, advertisements may play on the radio, prompting you to shop at a passing store due to a sale, which would have been communicated from the shopping app on your phone.

Ads would then be tailored further to an individual, based on the fitness data coming from their Fitbit device, the electrical usage in their house from smart home data, or even order food from a fridge with Samsung’s ‘Family Hub Refrigerator’. The sky’s the limit with IoT and, if fully adopted, with this data made available, the possibilities are endless.

Consumers will take time to adjust to this new era of mass data being so accessible. However, Taylor Romero raised an interesting point when discussing technology in the retail sector. He suggested that consumers and people will warm to the concept of the IoT and this era of data11

Romero draws comparisons with the manufacturing world via the assembly line, which was originally comprised of humans but is now machine-based. At first, there could have been opposition and doubts surrounding cogs and wheels, but now they are as common as water coming from a tap. However, Romeo suggests that the same will come of the microchip and things which connect to the internet.

The microchip is the new cog.


1. Kim, S. and Kim, S. (2016). A multi-criteria approach toward discovering killer IoT application in Korea. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 102, pp.143-155 and Scuotto, V., Ferraris, A. and Bresciani, S. (2016). Internet of Things. Business Process Management Journal, 22(2), pp.357-367.
2. Doyle, C. (2016). A Dictionary of Marketing. 4th ed. New York: Oxford University Press.
3. Underdahl, B. (2014). The Internet of Things for Dummies. 1st ed. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
4. Doyle, C. (2016). A Dictionary of Marketing. 4th ed. New York: Oxford University Press.
5. ITU, (2005). The Internet of Things. ITU Internet Reports. Geneva
6. Accenture, (2015). Digital Trust in the IoT Era. Dublin: Accenture and Vrontis, D., Thrassou, A., Chebbi, H. and Yahiaoui, D. (2012). Transcending innovativeness towards strategic reflexivity. Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal, 15(4), pp.420-437
7. Available at: [Accessed 11 Apr. 2017]. Sachs, K., Petrov, I. and Guerrero, P. (2010). From Active Data Management to Event-Based Systems and More. 1st ed. Berlin: Springer, pp.242-259.
8. Porter, M. and Heppelmann, J. (2014). How Smart, Connected Products Are Transforming Competition. [online] Harvard Business Review. Available at: [Accessed 6 Apr. 2017].
9. Knowledge Management (2017) Gold, Malhotra and Segars, 2001: Santoro et al, (2001)
10. Porter, M. and Heppelmann, J. (2014). How Smart, Connected Products Are Transforming Competition. [online] Harvard Business Review. Available at: [Accessed 6 Apr. 2017].
11. Romero, T. (2016). TedTalk – Technology will change retail shopping – but it’s not what you think. Accenture, (2015). Internet of Things. Revolutionizing the Retail Industry. Accenture.



by Ben Jackson
5 April 2018



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