Commentary

Beacons Reach Beyond Retail To Banking, Horse Racing, Search

While still the potential darling of retailers, beacons are moving way out of that arena.

The little radio-transmitting devices, which can either quietly or blatantly tap into authorized smartphone apps to trigger things or gather information, are graduating into all areas of life.

Or at least to any areas where consumers may go.

Google, which recently introduced an upgrade to its Eddystone beacon standard, is now planning to use beacon technology to support targeted ads and information.

The idea is to use beacons to trigger location-based advertising, much like early retail attempts, except linked to Google search, of course.

One person in charge of online for a large regional bank chain told me this week that, through their agency, Google installed beacons in all of their branches as a pilot a few months ago. This is yet another indicator of the expansion of beacons.

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Citibank and beacon-maker Gimbal recently introduced beacons integrated with the Citi app so that consumers in New York can open an ATM door via app rather than having to swipe their banking card.

And at the start of this horse racing season, Kentucky Derby home Churchill Downs installed more than 1,500 beacons so attendees could more easily find their seats, betting windows and concessions.

Beacons are even in London buses, so riders can receive real-time travel updates on the route they’re on, along with relevant ads.

The latest beacons tracking by ABI Research shows the number of beacons will pass 400 million within five years.

In addition to traditional advertising, beacons are being used to provide services, like unlocking doors at banks and hotel rooms and useful information based on location, such as airport check-ins.

Some marketers who deal with consumer location issues are dabbling with beacons. Leading edge players already have dived in.

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