Sponsored content may have taken over the digital media industry, but don’t give up on the offline marketplace’s innovative nature just yet. Native advertising is coming to a brick-and-mortar store near you, if it isn’t there already. You won’t see any retailer touting the new technology too loudly, though. Not even one of the industry’s leaders is doing much of that. Instead, you’ll most notice the new real-time advertising opportunity as it appears on your phone, alerting you to sales, offers and more – when relevant.
See, persuading a customer to buy your product at the time and place in which there is already a high interest in doing so is a marketer’s dream scenario. Online, with targeted advertising (though not perfect), many marketers have been able to achieve some type of digital proficiency in understanding their customers and how to reach them at the moment they can be swayed to purchase.
The offline equivalent to that, though, has been more difficult to come by. Until now, with the introduction of beacon technology.
Beacon technology combines in-store or at-event behavioral data with social or first-party data entered via a brand’s mobile app, allowing marketers to understand a store or event’s flow and how that correlates with the personalities and lifestyles of the customers themselves. Better yet, all of this is done with user permission, thus following the data collection and use transparency best practices.
Beacon technology uses bluetooth low energy (BLE) and visual light communication (VLC) technologies to triangulate a user’s smartphone when in a prescribed distance from a beacon. Then, the beacon can send customized alerts or updates to the customer. For instance, if you walk by Starbucks and you have the Starbucks app installed, a beacon might notify you that the Pumpkin Spice Latte is back – and give you a coupon, too.
This technology isn’t brand new, but more and more businesses are adopting methods for reaching customers offline, in real-time and where customer attention already is: on her smartphone, of course.
Here are 5 companies using beacon technology in innovative ways to communicate and engage with their consumers:
1. Duane Reade
Drug stores are infamous for their loyal, coupon-using customer base. To better cater to that audience, and save a few trees in the process, Walgreen’s is rolling out Apple’s iBeacon technology to several of its NYC-based Duane Reade stores as a way to send mobile coupons to customers in-store, and build on customer lifetime value in the process.
2. Oscar Mayer
This legacy lunch meat wants to claim its market share, very literally, by sending push notifications to shoppers in stores who linger around an often crowded deli counter. Customers will receive an advertisement during the shopping trip to sway those in a long line over to the packaged meat section – where they’ll get a discount for Oscar Mayer.
Museums are getting in on the beacon game as well, using the technology to send notifications to smartphones about the art being seen in front of you. LabWerk is spearheading the initiative through their mApp product offering, and according to Apple Insider, “mApp is already in production at Tulip-themed tourist attraction Tulpenland in Sint Maartenszee, Netherlands. Visitors receive supplementary content via location-based videos and images, and can earn discounts and rebates by completing a quiz on the story of the tulip.”
BrainItch Solutions offers geo-specific identity data via iBeacons to its festival clients including SnowBall and SnowGlobe music festivals. The data collected from the devices reveals which brands and sponsors the event-goers have an affinity for based on their at-event behaviors, allowing festivals to pull in premium sponsors and create a better and more contextually relevant festival experience for attendees year over year.
A new age of bar crawls is emerging with the help of iBeacon. Participants in these social events in NYC are tracked via mobile device and sent push notifications that include directions and drink specials for the next bar. The first gathering took place on May 20, and you can easily signup to get notifications for the next go-around. This might mean – gasp! – no more getting lost during SantaCon!
By the way, if you think all of this technology is interchangeable with the term “iBeacon” – you’re wrong. Apple is kicking butt at confusing a marketplace that is just warming up to BLE and VLC capabilities by allowing the term iBeacon to be freely thrown around. Don’t be fooled though, there are competitors out there using beacon technology just as aggressively as Apple.