Why Beacons Have A Bright Future

Why Beacons Have A Bright Future
SHARE
THIS



When Apple, Google and Samsung get behind a new technology innovation it’s almost certain to make it to the mainstream masses. And that’s exactly what has happened with Bluetooth SMART beacons, argues Inlight strategy director, Ben Howden.

These tiny, low cost transmitters are not only set to change the future of marketing but also the way we as consumers interact with the real world. It’s hardly surprising that businesses of all shapes and sizes – from large grocery chains to entire shopping precincts, international airports to world class sporting stadiums – are rolling out beacon solutions at breakneck speed.

So what the heck is a beacon? In its simplest form, a beacon is small wireless device that broadcasts signals using Bluetooth Smart technology, an intelligent and power friendly version of the Bluetooth wireless technology that has been around for years. On their own, beacons don’t really do that much aside from transmitting a signal that contains some unique identifiers, which typically include a UUID, major, and minor. The magic happens when applications running on your smartphone, tablet or smart watch pick up these signals and trigger a contextual experience based on those unique identifiers. I’ll bring this to life through some real world examples later on.

Back to the beacons. They’re cheap. They cost anywhere from $10-30 a pop and can last up to three years on a single lithium battery. But be warned; from our testing, reliability and battery life vary significantly between different manufactures. Beacons can communicate with smartphones or tablets that are as close as five centimetres or as far as 50 meters away, which opens up a range of exiting applications for communicating with, and engaging consumers. Not only that, but Apple, Google, Samsung, Blackberry, Nokia, Sony and pretty much every other mobile device manufacturer offer native support of Bluetooth SMART, which means that the majority of the Australian population are walking around with beacon enabled devices in their pockets already. Add to that the growing wearables market (all powered by Bluetooth SMART), and you can see why beacons are quickly becoming a very attractive proposition.

If your business has a footprint in the physical world, there’s a fair chance that beacons are a big deal. Let’s get back to those real world examples I mentioned earlier on.

Next time you walk past your favourite shopping mall, your smartphone will detect an in store beacon and automatically let you know that a product you were looking at online early that day is on sale inside. Once inside, product based beacons will offer up detailed product information and targeted offers as you’re browsing the shelves. Now imagine that at the same time your smartphone has recognised a beacon at the cashier and has triggered your customer profile on an iPad dashboard for the customer service assistant. The profile contains details on your shopping preferences as well as past purchases. All in the name of offering you a more personalised and tailored shopping experience.

Sound a bit creepy? Before you jump to that conclusion, you should be aware that in order to deliver messages and content using beacon technology you must first gain permission from the end user via the application. And there are rules that can be setup to limit the number of notifications that are sent to a user in a given time period. If you fail to deliver value and abuse the capability with low value content, your app will be deleted. It’s that simple. Your mission should be to ‘surprise and delight’ the user. Do that and you’ll be rewarded.

If you think about it, beacons enable something that we as marketers have been dreaming about for a very long time. The ability to reach the right person, with the right message, at the right place and at the right time. Say I have a supermarket app installed on my phone with my Flybys card linked to the app. I walk into my local supermarket and my smart phone picks up a beacon in the nearby dental isle. The app scans my Flybys purchase history to see if I’ve bought a toothbrush in the past six months. The answer is no and because of that little insight I’m presented with a message telling me that I’m overdue for a new toothbrush. To sweeten the deal I receive a time sensitive discount that is too hard to resist. It’s one to one marketing like we’ve never seen before. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

But it’s not just about marketing. From arriving at the airport, to visiting your local bank branch, to taking a trip down to the local car dealer in search of some new wheels, beacons offer us the opportunity to significantly enhance the customer experience through the delivery of contextual (and helpful) information based on your exact location. And we all know that customer experience is the way to capture the hearts and minds of our customers. Just look at how companies like Uber, Amazon, Zappos and Apple have redefined what a great customer experience looks like.

How about another example? You’re at the beach on a hot day, and it’s packed with people. You’ve got your two kids in tow and you find the last remaining patch of sand and stake your claim with beacon towels and a beach umbrella. Before the kids take off to build sand castles and play in the shallows, you put a simple beacon device around their wrist. Open up your smartphone, set a range – say 20m – and if the kids go outside of this range you’ll receive a notification along with directions on where to find them. A simple solution that tracks the most important assets in your life – your kids! Now think of all the other valuable assets you could track with beacons. Hospital equipment in a busy hospital. Your car. Building materials on a construction site. Employees on a high risk work site. The list goes on and on.

I hope that by now I’ve painted a clear picture on how these low cost transmitters are set to transform a number of different industries in a big way. But before I conclude, there’s another benefit that I haven’t yet covered – analytics. That’s right, every time someone with an enabled app comes within range of a beacon there is an opportunity to capture the data it creates. With beacon powered analytics you can start to understand real world behaviour, like store visits, dwell time, pathing and conversions. We like to refer to it as “Google Analytics for the real world”. One caveat though. Whilst beacons can provide rich and detailed information on both visits to your physical locations and subsequent engagement with your app – it only includes users who have your app installed, not the entire population. But it’s still immensely valuable data. Imagine you own a network of national stores. Now imagine that when each person exits one of your stores and has downloaded your app, they are presented with a simple ‘rate your experience’ prompt and the results are recorded. Pretty quickly you can understand which stores are delivering a great experience and which stores are not – arming you with a set of data that allows you to optimise the in store experience.

So there you have it. A little insight into why we think beacons have an extremely bright future. Beacons are definitely not right for every business, but there’s no doubting that for some businesses they can provide a huge competitive advantage and engage customers in new and exciting ways. Let the beacon revolution begin!

Latest News

Women In Media Profile: Zeina Khodr
  • Media

Women In Media Profile: Zeina Khodr

When B&T was offered to interview a lady named “Zeina”, we initially thought it was the warrior princess herself.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
39th AWARD Awards Winners Announced
  • Media

39th AWARD Awards Winners Announced

The winners of the 39th annual AWARD Awards were announced tonight in a celebration of the most outstanding creative communications work in the Asia Pacific region. The theme for the night was “Count Yourself Lucky” and didn’t disappoint with a record number of golds being presented. Held at Carriageworks as part of the Semi Permanent […]

Q&A With Cannes Chairman Terry Savage
  • Advertising
  • Media

Q&A With Cannes Chairman Terry Savage

If you mistakenly thought this was an interview with Kojak's Telly Savalas, as it turns out, it's even better than that.

Optus To Phase Out Virgin Mobile Brand
  • Marketing

Optus To Phase Out Virgin Mobile Brand

Didn't much fancy that Telstra story above? Well, perhaps B&T could tempt you with this tasty Optus tickler instead.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
AKQA R&D Teams Up With Google For Semi Permanent 2018
  • Media

AKQA R&D Teams Up With Google For Semi Permanent 2018

AKQA R&D in collaboration with Google has developed a process called Somesthetic Transfer. It uses machine learning to take both the style and texture of an artwork and apply it to another image to be 3D printed with a UV printer. The works will be displayed at Semi Permanent 2018 in Sydney from Thursday 24 […]

WPP’s Health & Wellness To Unveil ‘How Design Can Save A Life” For Vivid
  • Marketing
  • Media

WPP’s Health & Wellness To Unveil ‘How Design Can Save A Life” For Vivid

Design students from Torrens University’s Billy Blue College of Design have partnered with WPP AUNZ’s Health & Wellness division to decode clinical data on ‘Medicinal Marijuana in the Treatment of Epilepsy’. Their creative solutions will be presented at a Vivid Ideas Exchange titled ‘Design can save your life: how can creativity improve comprehension of health data?’ […]

Diversity Case Study Series: The Royals
  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Media

Diversity Case Study Series: The Royals

If you read one diversity case study on B&T today, make it this one. Not that there's any others to choose from, really.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Cricket Australia Finds New Major Sponsor
  • Marketing

Cricket Australia Finds New Major Sponsor

B&T was going to insert a homage to Sherbert's classic "Howzat" here before realising it was naff and showed our age.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
PHD Wins HSBC Global Media Account
  • Media

PHD Wins HSBC Global Media Account

ICYMI, PHD has FTW the HSBC business IRL. It's not so much a LOL or NSFW, but a TL;DR. Ahh, forget the whole thing.

InMoment Accelerates APAC Expansion With Key Acquisition
  • Media

InMoment Accelerates APAC Expansion With Key Acquisition

Customer experience (CX) intelligence platform, InMoment, has expanded into Australia and New Zealand with the acquisition of customer experience agency, brandXP and appointment of Claire Fastier as its APAC business head.

Marketers Need To Focus On Voice Search Right Now
  • Opinion

Marketers Need To Focus On Voice Search Right Now

In this opinion piece, Performics Australia performance content account director Steve Robinson (pictured below) dives into the hazy relationship between marketers and voice-activated technology. From settling family disputes, (“Hey Google, are fossil fuels really made from dinosaur bones?”) to running a household, (“OK Google, add toothpaste to my shopping list”), voice-activated systems are becoming more […]

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
SpotX Launches Online Resource Library For Publishers Seeking GDPR Guidance
  • Advertising
  • Media

SpotX Launches Online Resource Library For Publishers Seeking GDPR Guidance

Video advertising and monetisation platform SpotX has announced the launch of an online resource library for the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The library can be found on the company’s website and is part of a wider educational initiative by SpotX – which is headquartered in the US and has an office in […]

Daylight Agency Opens Government Division, Hires Legal & Political Expert
  • Marketing

Daylight Agency Opens Government Division, Hires Legal & Political Expert

Integrated communications firm Daylight Agency has cemented its presence in the government and political arena with the appointment of industry veteran David Begg. A practising solicitor for over 28 years, Begg (pictured above) will head up the agency’s new government division. He has extensive experience working with large commercial clients on high-profile regulatory and legal […]

Frost Design Unveils New Look For John Holland
  • Marketing

Frost Design Unveils New Look For John Holland

Frost Design has shown off its comprehensive rebrand of iconic Australian infrastructure and property business John Holland, based around the brand idea of ‘Transforming Lives’. John Holland CEO Joe Barr said Frost was the only branding business who understood that the impact of the rebrand was just as important internally as it would be externally, […]

Women In Media Profile: Jill Johnston
  • Media

Women In Media Profile: Jill Johnston

We've got an absolute cracking Women in Media profile today. Not to say it's approved by the Chiropractors' Association.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
First Lady Michelle Obama and President Barack Obama Dance Together at the Presidents Ball
  • Media

Netflix Secures Producer Deal With The Obamas

It seems former US president Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama aren’t quite done with the international spotlight just yet. The Obamas have officially signed a multiyear deal with Netflix, which will see the power couple producing films and series with the streaming giant. According to Netflix, “The Obamas will produce a diverse […]

How To Spot A Trend Versus A Fad
  • Opinion

How To Spot A Trend Versus A Fad

One need only view our editor's hot pink leg warmers today to realise he's neither fad nor trend.

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Why Engagement Is The New Rule Of Content
  • Opinion

Why Engagement Is The New Rule Of Content

And why is B&T running a photo of an engaged couple for this content engagement article? It was either that or a carrot.

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Fairfax Media Recruits 20 Trainee Journalists Across All Its Titles
  • Media

Fairfax Media Recruits 20 Trainee Journalists Across All Its Titles

Fairfax Media has today announced the recruitment of 20 trainee journalists to join the newsrooms of The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Canberra Times, The Australian Financial Review, Brisbane Times and WAtoday. This represents one of Metro’s largest trainee intakes in years and underlines the commitment of the mastheads to fostering a new generation […]

Sydney Australia - November 7, 2011. An extreme close up of an American express card issued by the Australian bank Westpac.
  • Media

AMEX Launches Global Media Review

Are there not enough hours in the day? Are you cheek-by-jowl with your co-workers? Well, hopefully you won't win this.

Sydney Water & Republic of Everyone Create Vinyl Records Made Of Recycled Marine Plastic
  • Campaigns
  • Marketing

Sydney Water & Republic of Everyone Create Vinyl Records Made Of Recycled Marine Plastic

Sydney Water has pioneered a way to create records from marine plastics and, in doing so, encourage more people to join the movement of local clean-up groups rolling up their sleeves every weekend to clean plastics, litter and other pollutants from the city’s beaches and waterways. Plastics are collected by volunteers, then cut in pieces […]

Credit Card Compare Names Its First Head Of Marketing
  • Marketing

Credit Card Compare Names Its First Head Of Marketing

Aussie credit card comparison site Credit Card Compare has announced the appointment of Caroline Raffan as its inaugural head of marketing. Raffan (pictured above) has over 10 years’ experience in brand strategy, campaign development, digital marketing, events, public relations, content creation, market research, advertising, stakeholder management, social media marketing, and project management. She joins Credit […]

Why Programmatic Needs To Become A Branding Machine
  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Opinion
  • Technology

Why Programmatic Needs To Become A Branding Machine

In this opinion piece, Phil Murrell (pictured below), country manager for Australia and New Zealand at Sizmek, argues that programmatic ad spend needs to move up the branding funnel. When I started in digital advertising way back in 2004, we got our media insertion orders via the fax machine. We relied on that machine to […]

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine