My prediction for 2015: Facebook will be the first “front-page” app to incorporate iBeacon capability. In fact, it would be shortsighted for the social network not to consider beacons a top-three priority. So why Facebook? And more importantly, how long will they wait until they enter into the mix?
Beacons represent a unique opportunity to bridge the digital and physical worlds. They are the start of what will be the continuous shift in how media is consumed, and how interactions with the consumer are made. For this, it means the experience, above all else, needs to be seamless and part of the consumers current actions so they are utilizing the technology without the technology being disruptive. For the medium to truly evolve, however, a leader in the social and digital space needs to open the door to a massive audience.
Facebook is uniquely positioned to create this network, having an addressable audience of most of the US population (74% of adults). The company has massive scale and reach on mobile, commands a significant share of all online attention (11%), and is integrated into almost every app with social features, meaning Facebook could introduce could introduce proximity capability to every app with a Facebook login.
The creation of a Facebook beacon network would literally connect your physical self to your digital self, allowing you to personalize the real world just like you would online. It is shifting from real-time to real-life marketing.
Marketers will need to shift from counting page views and impressions to capturing attention and affecting behavior in the real world—a much more valuable metric. Context will be critical, as brands will need to “play nice” with multiple brands and apps to deliver the appropriate content and augment the user experience. Facebook already knows your tastes and can manage your preferences across apps, giving it a huge advantage over competitors like Apple. Imagine, for example, a personal recommendation engine that suggests a gift for Mom while you’re near her favorite store or Smart thermostats and light that create the right mood when you enter a room. It is customizing your experience and offering information when it’s helpful while also being responsive.
If Facebook were to enter the space, the company would be removing a significant barrier to entry for all players. Far from being “game over” for beacons, it would lead to explosive growth as brands and media owners could implement compelling beacon experiences at scale. Although the company has neither officially confirmed nor denied activity in this area, we’ll only be surprised if we don’t hear about related developments in the coming year.