Commentary

Preventing The Slot-Machine Scenario

Marketers are still trying to figure out the best way to deploy beacons in stores, but here's one scenario that could prove problematic: “Walk into Walmart and the phone starts going off like a slot machine.”

That image this morning came from Geometry Global's Michael Berelian, who warns that retailers should exert enough control over beacons to prevent people from being bombarded with messages while in stores. “When I'm in Walmart, and walking down the cereal aisle, I don't necessarily want to be pinged with 15 recipes about cereal,” he says.

Other panelists agreed that they don't want their phone transformed into a slot machine, but disagreed about how realistic that prospect was. “No one's going to have every single cereal app on their phone,” says Rachel Pasqua at Mobility North America, who dismissed the slot-machine scenario as a “scare tactic.”

Rosetta's Chad Vavra adds that the best way to prevent the phone-as-slot-machine idea is by limiting the control individual retailers wield. There's a “greater chance for it to go off like a slot machine if retail owns it,” he says, referring to the beacon experience, adding that phones won't light up with every marketers' message unless the users have installed all of those companies' apps.

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