Mobile

Retail’s Mobile Beacon Tech Gets Ad Network Partner

Ad-tech company Freckle IoT is partnering with retail-beacon leader Blue Bite to create a 60,000-beacon network for mobile marketing — the biggest proximity network in North America, according to VentureBeat.

If that sounds less than wildly exciting, it’s probably because beacons were hyped to the skies as a retail mobile marketing solution in 2014, but never quite got the traction they needed to show dramatic results. The most visible proponent was Apple, which rolled out its iBeacons to all Apple Stores in 2013, but PayPal launched its own in-store Beacon system in 2013 too, as part of an effort to add offline payments to its dominant online platform. As recently as January, one beacon-management software vendor planned to give away a million beacons free to retailers.

The reality, according to mobile-audience analytics vendor Reveal, is as follows: There are only about 64,000 beacons that the company has detected in the U.S. — and it’s been looking.

Even if that’s a very low estimate, it makes the 60,000-beacon Freckle IoT/Blue Bite network huge and full of possibilities, especially since the unified network isn’t just intended to work as islands of beaconization within a particular retailer’s stores, but spread across cities so multiple brands and retailers can use the same beacon network to deliver their marketing messages and then track would-be customers to the store.

“Brands now have the ability to understand their customers better, measure effectiveness, and have the ability to personalize offers,” Freckle IoT CEO Neil Sweeney told VentureBeat. “Retailers will be able to analyze their path to purchase by attributing advertising to store visits and provide an extensive personal experience for shoppers.”

On the customer side, a beacon network that’s used by lots of brands and retailers in lots of different ways opens up a wide range of possibilities. A convenience store might offer free products to highly specific customer types walking by. A concert venue could send attendees exclusive content. A hotel could pitch midweek mini-vacations to the right kind of potential customers.

And all those applications could be using exactly the same beacons at the same time — just aimed at different audiences.

“These new technologies give everyone so much opportunity,” Sweeney told VentureBeat. “Consumers will receive more relevant offers from brands, mobile publishers and apps will bring additional value to their users, and a new funnel of monetization and robust targeting metrics for existing channels like display [will emerge].”

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