Mobile ad exchange TapSense has announced a new ad platform for the forthcoming Apple Watch, offering advertisers a new way of targeting consumers without using banner ads.
It remains to be seen exactly what rules Apple will lay down for ads on the Apple Watch, but without any official word from the company on how they'll be handled, marketers have stepped in with their own take on advertising, taking a few cues from the way Android Wear is evolving.
TapSense on Monday announced a programmatic ad platform for developers to target owners of the Apple Watch. According to Ash Kumar, co-founder and CEO of TapSense, Apple Watch has the potential to get rid of banner ads with new wearable-centric formats.
"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.
According to the company, the beta TapSense SDK "leverages new interactive interfaces supported by Apple WatchKit such as watch faces, glances, and full-screen experiences while getting rid of banner ads".
To see what TapSense means, there's no need to look further than Android Wear, which supports sponsored custom watch faces made by games companies and other brands.
TapSense also wants to deliver the holy grail of mobile advertising through hyper-local ads that rely on the Apple Watch's use of an iPhone's GPS. An example it offers up are coupons - say, for coffee in a nearby cafe - occupying the entire screen of the device.
TapSense also sees potential to exploit Apple Watch's integration with Apple Pay. Since the device is on the wrist instead of in a pocket, it has more potential to convert coupon offers into purchases.
As TapSense admits, its announcement shouldn't be taken as an indication of how Apple will handle ads for its smartwatch, given that both the TapSense SDK and Apple's WatchKit SDK are both in beta and may be subject to change. In addition, Apple CEO Tim Cook has said previously that its business is not that dependent on ad revenues, despite having its own iAd mobile advertising network. Besides that, Apple has already taken a tough stance on advertising for its HealthKit and HomeKit SDKs.
TapSense clarified yesterday that its original post "inaccurately mentions support for watch faces" and that "currently, the WatchKit SDK doesn't provide developer access to watch faces".
Also, the TapSense SDK will not integrate directly with Apple Pay. "To redeem a coupon from an ad, it would need to have a readable barcode that can be scanned at the point of sale, or the ad could be added to Passbook and then delivered to Apple Watch to be redeemed," TapSense explained.
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