Commentary

The 2 Worlds of Beacons

So many beacons, so little time.

It seems that almost every day a new beacon-related announcement or introduction comes across my desk.

At the moment, the mobile beacon world is explosive. And it is a truly global phenomenon.

  • In the United Kingdom, English Football League title sponsor Sky Bet introduced beacons at two stadiums over the weekend as a test. Football fans received notifications, including the best places near them for special offers and where to bet.
  • Department store chain John Lewis and Land Securities, the largest commercial property company in the U.K., have deployed beacons.
  • In the Asia-Pacific region, Mindshare Singapore teamed with platform provider Footmarks to expand beacon-powered analytics to the region. The beacon service will enable content delivery to consumers in malls, retail stores and venues across the area.
  • In Australia, retailer Chatswood Chase in Sydney tapped into Apple’s Passbook and sent offers to opted-in consumers when they stepped inside the shopping center.

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Outside of its global nature, what strikes me as even more significant about beaconing is the breadth of offerings.

Beacons are like the complexity of the mobile payments space on steroids.

With an estimated 50 suppliers manufacturing beacons, there will be 30,000 active just in the U.S. by the end of this year, according to Business Insider Intelligence, which I wrote about here a while back (Beacons, Beacons, Everywhere Beacons).

In addition to what I consider the beacon companies, there also are companies that use beacons as part of a larger platform. I view this as beacons minor and beacons major.

In the grand scheme, the beacon is the easy part. They’re small, not expensive and relatively easy to install.

There can be uses where an extensive platform is not needed, such as using beacons to provide simple but useful information, like arriving bus or train status, based on the beacon location.

There will be many beacon minor companies. They can provide relatively quick and easy beacon implementations that don’t break the bank.

The interaction with beaconed customers at scale is the not-so-easy part. That’s where the beacon majors live. They run platforms that use beacons.

Organizations selecting beaconing companies are being faced with a constantly growing number of choices. And beacons will be everywhere.

  • In Los Angeles, Martin Outdoor Media is has installed beacons at bus benches and looking at sending information such as traffic updates, attraction information along with access for brands to interact with consumers on location.
  • Thousands of small mom and pop shops are receiving free beacons to provide automatic check-ins of customers, courtesy of the Perka division of First Data (Beacons Coming to Small Business in a Big Way).
  • The Chicago Transit Authority is expanding its beacon pilot with out-of-home advertising group Titan to rail stations through the city. Gimbal beacons are being installed for consumer bus and train tracking as well as engagement with brands.

The beacon wave is growing.

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Interested in beacons? Learn all about them and how they are being used  at the MediaPost conference on beacons, Nov. 3 in New York (IoT: Beacons).

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