Shoppers are about to start receiving highly targeted ads directly from brands while in stores, near where specific products are sold.
This programmatic ad buying is coming to retailers, courtesy of beacons.
Swirl Networks, the ad network company whose beacon platform is used by Timberland, Lord & Taylor and Kenneth Cole, among others, just introduced the Swirl Ad Exchange (SWx) for proximity-based, in-store mobile marketing.
The idea is essentially to create a private ad exchange controlled by the retailer, Hilmi Ozguc, founder and CEO of Boston-based Swirl told me.
A brand would have a dashboard where they could see retailers’ departments in which their products are sold. They then could request to run ads for shoppers within a certain distance of those products, determined by beacons in those departments.
For example, at Lord & Taylor in Boston, where I regularly test the in-store beaconing, I already have received full-screen mobile ads from Michael Kors upon entering the department carrying handbags.
The retailer essentially becomes the publisher, selling advertising space to brands to interact with highly coveted shoppers while near their products. Once the retailer approves a brand for a department, the advertising process becomes totally automated and the retailer sees a potential new revenue stream.
It also is in real time. And this is where it can get interesting.
Since multiple brands may be approved for certain departments, this can provide an opportunity for real-time bidding for those departments, a future plan of the ad exchange, according to Ozguc.
To reach these opted-in shoppers, the cost per view will be around 50 cents to $1.50, Ozguc estimates.
The retailer also needs a ‘co-publisher,’ the provider of the app in which the consumer interacts. In the case of Lord & Taylor, the app SnipSnap is used, though a retailer can determine which app is activated by the beacon, since in most cases there ultimately will be a number of apps equipped to be beacon-triggered.
However, from the consumer’s viewpoint, it appears that the messaging is coming directly from the retailer.
At scale, the ad exchange could provide a brand with opportunities for flash sales based on inventory, offers by region, store category or department as well as automatic programming for reaching a pre-determined number of mobile shoppers within a certain timeframe.
Beaconing is moving into the advertising world in a big way. More importantly, it’s moving ever-so-closely to when and where a consumer buys.