We’re delighted to share this article from our MD and Co-founder Claire Mula, recently published on B&T, Australia’s leading authority for the Australian marketing, advertising, media and PR industries.
Seven Things Every Brand Should Know About Beacons
Location can be a powerful tool for any consumer brand seeking to stay relevant with today’s connected shopper.
For brands selling their products and services via a physical channel (where 90% of today’s retail turnover still resides), understanding the influence of location and getting a handle on tools is vital. It’s one of your competitive advantages over pure-play retailers.
This year, the race for relevancy and location has shifted indoors thanks to beacons. Here are seven things every brand should know about beacons.
1. BEACONS DON’T DETECT ANYTHING, MOBILES DO
Beacons are small devices no bigger than a thumb drive that emit a low-energy bluetooth pulse, very much like a lighthouse. This is not the same bluetooth we use to pair our mobile to our car speaker system or mouse to PC. It’s a power-saving version of that, known as Bluetooth Low-Energy (BLE) or Bluetooth 4.0.
Smart devices such as certain mobile phones can recognise the bluetooth low-energy signal. Unlike cell towers or Wifi sensors, beacons themselves do not receive any data – a common misconception. They simply send a signal and an identifier at regular intervals. Sort of like saying, “Hi, my name is Kevin Beacon”.
Developers can program applications to “do something” once they detect the specific beacon, such as trigger an alert notification, launch a website or report back that a device has been in that location.
2. ACCURACY IS A RANGE, NOT A NUMBER
Whether it is to help consumers locate your brand on shelf or drive nearby shoppers in-store behind targeted messages and offers, location-based shopping tools can be a competitive advantage for today’s consumer brands.
Beacons mean even greater accuracy in presence detection and that means more precise communication is achievable. Even indoors where GPS is off-limits, a beacon can trigger an action, such as a message, down to a range of one to five meters.
However, accuracy differs depending on whether the application is open (on screen) or in the background (not on screen or closed). Every operating system interacts with beacons differently so the experience may differ between shoppers using Android and iOS as well as between phone makes and models. In short, targeting accuracy is a range.
3. CONSUMERS IN THE PRIVACY DRIVING SEATWhen given the choice, consumers will overwhelmingly choose an opt-in approach to location versus no location-option at all. Beacons facilitate that opt-in choice.
Remember, beacons do not “track” or detect anything. Devices do. So whether or not shoppers wish to experience location-based services is fully in their own hands.
In order for devices to detect a beacon, consumers must first turn on location services and also turn on bluetooth.
Just like the “do not disturb” sign on your hotel room door, these settings can be turned off and on at any time. So the approach via beacons is very much opt-in and puts the consumer in control of location data.
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