Mobile advertising company TapSense announced its first ad platform for the Apple Watch this week. The company, which runs ad exchanges connecting brands to publishers and developers, is promising an array of custom ads for Apple’s forthcoming smartwatch. These include different sizes and formats "such as watch faces, glances, and full-screen experiences," as well as "hyper-local" ads that leverage GPS signals from connected iPhones (the Apple Watch can't track locations itself) to deliver messages when a customer walks past a client’s store, for example. Similar messages could be sent when a customer pays for an item using Apple Pay, with directly redeemable coupons appearing on the watch face.
Ads could take advantage of Apple Watch's motion sensors; expanding when the wearer lifts their wrist
Speaking to Reuters, TapSense chief executive Ash Kumar explains that although the Apple Watch offers new territory for advertisers, there’s an associated risk of alienating consumers — especially given the limited screen space and focused nature of apps for wearables. Kumar suggests that the ads would need to be as relevant as possible: for example, taxi service offers when a user is looking at a travel app. He adds that brands could take advantage of the device’s motion sensors — expanding messages if the wearer raises his wrist to get a better look — and that closing ads could be done by tapping an "X" in the corner.
But there are still far more unknowns than knowns when it comes to advertising on the Apple Watch: will ads be able to wake the screen without the user's say-so? Will brands actually get access to your Apple Pay data? How would "click X to close" even work on such a tiny display? Apple knows adverts are a distasteful subject to many consumers (that's why the company boasts about having a business model that has nothing to do them), and it's certainly going to be careful about what it allows onto the Apple Watch. The device's launch this spring will be the company's most heavily scrutinized event in years, and media outlets and fans will be ready to jump on any perceived misstep. So far, Apple's playing its cards close to its chest.