And Now Even Wearables Have Programmatic Ads

Amtrak buys first promo from new network

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Programmatic advertising—a burgeoning medium for desktop, tablet and smartphone marketers—is now happening via smartwatches.

FitAd, a 4-month-old wearables ad network, has begun facilitating automated promos for Amtrak's Acela Express service to folks who golf on courses along the Eastern Seaboard. The train-travel brand is the first to test the ad net, running banners via Golfshot when golfers who have downloaded that mobile app onto their Sony or Samsung watches are in between holes.

"We want to help translate a platform like Golfshot to brands through brand managers or ad agencies," said Mort Greenberg, founder and vp of sales at FitAd.

Ben Addoms, CEO of Golfshot, added that golf courses—where players stand around for considerable lengths in between shots—provide an opportune time for branding. His app entails an ad-supported free version and a paid option.

"We've had success working with brands that are interested in golf," Addoms said. "But we are a company of 20 folks that does $3 million to $4 million in revenue right now. To grow, we recognized that we needed to get effective representation on Madison Avenue. Having the time, money and team to explain that the inventory is available to them just doesn't make a lot of economic sense today. So having FitAd incorporate us into their network model made a ton of sense."

FitAd network currently runs on Android wearables but will soon be available for IOS systems. RockMyRun, a fitness app, is the second—and only other—publishing partner that FitAd has signed up.

Indeed, like its advertiser base, the consumer reach of FitAd's network is a work-in-progress. But it's interesting to see any brand activity—Acela by its lonesome, in this case—at all in the nascent space.

In July, Mindshare revealed intentions to build a wearables network across Google Glass, Samsung Galaxy Gear, Garmin devices and fitness wristband Jawbone. Though, it's unclear if the media agency has sold any ads so far. And tech company Undertone has said it plans on developing a similar system for sometime next year.

So Acela may be the first known programmatic wearables ad buyer.

@Chris_Heine Christopher Heine is a New York-based editor and writer.