Commentary

Beaconing by Request Enters the Market

The different ways beacons are used continues to evolve.

There is active beaconing, passive beaconing and now requested beaconing.

One of the first and most obvious beaconing approaches was to use beacon signals to trigger messaging to nearby smartphones owned by people who want such messages.

Examples of this included shoppers at Lord & Taylor, who received messages and offers based on departments they visited, window shoppers at House of Fraser in London, where beacons inside mannequins offered for mobile sale the clothes on those mannequins, passersby on London’s Regent Street, who got messages from stores that carry products that interested them and grocery shoppers enticed to check out a new Hillshire Brands product launch.

And then there is passive beaconing, which I also earlier dubbed post-beaconing, where beacon-triggered activity captures location information for later use, or using location knowledge to immediately enhance a consumer’s shopping experience by sending relevant videos to in-store screens, as I wrote about here yesterday (In-Pocket, Phone Beaconing: Tapping into the Store Shopper).

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In those cases, messages are not sent to phones.

A third form of beaconing, where the consumer essentially asks to be beaconed, is being tested in many GameStop stores, which I saw demonstrated at the NRF Big Show in New York this week.

Rather than the beacons residing behind the scenes, such as being installed at the entrance to a store or on a ceiling in a department, the beacons at GameStop are front and center, prominently installed and facing consumers at game racks.

The idea is that rather than pushing messages to game shoppers based on location, the company is suggesting that anyone who wants additional information while at a rack to bring their phone near the beacon, which triggers relevant messaging in the GameStop app.

Shazam, the music recognition app, is taking a similar requested beaconing approach by including technology in its app that can link to beacons from Gimbal, the Qualcomm spinoff.

The idea there is that a person could use the app near a beacon to actively request additional beacon-triggered information. Shazam says it has more than 100 million active users.

As it continues to intersect with imagination, beaconing now can be by request.

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Check out the coming MediaPost IoT: Beacons conference agenda for Chicago Feb. 10.

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