Look up at the sky. Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's a drone.

And in the very near future, it's possible that drone will be serving a marketer.

Here are three ways marketers can benefit from this much talked about technology.

1. Drones allow marketers to provide new perspectives

Drone technology literally gives marketers the ability to create compelling audiovisual content that offers perspectives never before possible, or only possible at significant cost and thus only available to marketers with significant budgets. 

The ability for even the smallest of businesses to take advantage of drone imagery is exemplified by Captain Dave Anderson, who runs Capt. Dave's Dolphin & Whale Watching Safari in Dana Point, California.

One of his drone videos of dolphins has racked up nearly 12m views on YouTube.

While drones are becoming both more affordable and usable, even marketers without drones of their own can incorporate drone content into their campaigns as drone-captured photos and videos can increasingly be found on stock photo and video services.

2. They speed time-to-market 

Because drones are now widely available and can be put to use with little hassle, marketers are able to add new perspectives to their campaigns without suffering long delays.

Increasingly, specialist skills aren't even required for certain applications.

"Recently some of the sophisticated capabilities have gotten cheap and easy to use,"  Timothy Reuter, founder of the largest drone club in the US, told CNN in 2014.

The difference between the professional and hobbyist tools isn't that big anymore - that's part of the revolution.

3. The sky is now the limit when it comes to creativity

The new perspectives marketers can take advantage of coupled with quick time-to-market means that rapid experimentation is possible.

Marketers can now exercise a great deal of creativity when employing drones to create content.

But the most creative marketing-related drone applications aren't about content.

Some trailblazing marketers are also putting drones to use in more cutting-edge ways. Drones are being used to deliver aerial advertising in a new, less costly fashion.

And Camisaria Colombo, a Colombian clothier, even used drones to fly mannequins alongside buildings in Vila Olimpia, Sao Paulo's business district, to market its wares to businessmen.

There are creative non-consumer-facing applications for drones too.

Just as brick and mortar businesses are increasingly adopting technologies like WiFi tracking to monitor customers in-store, drones can be used to gather data that marketers can analyze to develop actionable business insights.  

Obviously, regulation of how drones are used could add red tape that makes it more difficult for marketers to use drones across all of these applications.

But the general consensus is that drones are here to stay, so in the coming year expect to see more marketers flying high.

Patricio Robles

Published 28 April, 2016 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments (1)

Pete Austin

Pete Austin, Founder and Author at Fresh Relevance

I live under the flightpath of Southampton Airport, less than one mile from a reported near miss between a FlyBe airliner and a drone on July 26 last year. Not too worried, but it would be annoying if I came home one night to find the road blocked by police tape while they searched for fragments of model aircraft.

Please could any UK marketers reading this check the "drone aware" site, which is a joint Civil Aviation Authority and British Model Flying Association initiative. For example using drones to gather data on shoppers seems to be illegal in the UK, in practice, because you can't fly in a street, town or city:

Extract from the Drone Aware Leaflet (PDF)::

"It is illegal to fly your unmanned aircraft over a congested area (streets, towns and cities).
Also, stay well clear of airports and airfields.

Don’t fly your unmanned aircraft within 50m of a person, vehicle, building or structure, or overhead groups of people at any height [...]

If you intend to use an unmanned aircraft for any kind of commercial activity, you must
get a ‘Permission’ from the Civil Aviation Authority, or you could face prosecution. For more
details, visit www.caa.co.uk/uas"

about 2 years ago

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