Commentary

Advertising on the Move: Beacons Added to Double-Decker Buses

Beacons are going on the move. Literally.

Out-of-home advertising is about to get a new and highly mobile tool to be put on buses, shuttles and taxis.

Beacon platform company Gimbal just announced a deal with OOH media company Vector Media for beacons to be added to, among other things, 500 double-decker buses.

The buses and tour vehicles run in retail-heavy markets including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas and Miami.

Until now, most beacons have been stationary, installed in places such as stores, sports stadiums and airports.

This new deal takes beacons to targeted markets, which could be momentary, such as a local soccer game or recreational event, where a large group of people might be gathered.

The idea is to extend the OOH advertising beyond a static billboard, said Ray Rotolo, senior vice president of OOH at Gimbal.

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“It’s about bringing proximity to the audience,” Rotolo told me.

The interesting beaconing twist here is that the advertising is likely to come from OOH budgets, since the advertising will be marketed to those already advertising on such spaces, such as the sides of buses.

The idea is that a consumer who has opted in and has one of the apps that works with Gimbal beacons can receive messages based on the advertiser essentially going to where they are.

While riding through a city, the beacon power could be remotely toned down so that buses driving by pedestrians would not trigger any messaging.

They also could be tuned to trigger messages only to those on the bus at any given time as well as to anyone about 160 feet from the bus.

“The idea is to be able to take a physical ad (such as on the side of a bus) and make it dynamic,” said Rotolo.

Vector is expected to be able to show first-party location data from consumers who opted in to identify conversions associated with campaigns.

The mobile beaconing can change the dynamics of location-based marketing.

Rather than a person having to be at a location where a beacon is installed and passing by it, the beacon will be going to a targeted audience segment, and passing by them.

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