Commentary

Beacon Maker Gimbal Acquired By Mobile Advertising Firm

Beacons are heading into mainstream advertising.

Not as in shoppers receiving annoying beacon-triggered messages blasted to their phones as they shop, but rather by adding beacon-triggered information to create fewer but much better and relevant advertising delivered later.

In a major beacon move, Gimbal, the well-known Qualcomm spinoff, was just acquired by The Mobile Majority, a Los Angeles-based mobile advertising firm.

In addition to developing and selling beacons, Gimbal has an entire location services infrastructure that will now be added to the media buying platform of The Mobile Majority.

The idea is to create more contextual mobile advertising, more precise audience targeting, better measurement and more offline-to-online attribution.

“We will be able to tie spend back to an actual action,” Rob Emrich, CEO and founder of The Mobile Majority, told me before the acquisition announcement. “This will be a new level of precision.”

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Beacons have been in trials in many retail stores and widely used in sporting arenas, where Gimbal has a significant footprint.

Clients of The Mobile Majority include Nature Valley, Icelandic, White Castle, Paramount Pictures, Fiji, AAA, Simon Swipe, Bonnaroo and AG Jeans.

The firm, which started as a rewards-based advertising company, essentially treats mobile ads like software rather than images, which allows for more sophisticated measurement capabilities.

“We power all of the ad stacks for big media companies and sell direct to brands and agencies,” said Emrich.

The challenges of beacons are the variables, including the need for a person to have a specific mobile app that links to the particular beacon, having Bluetooth turned on and opting in to receive location-based messages.

The new combined platform promises to basically eliminate the need to send a mobile message when a person is in a certain location. The company can simply track that location information and combine it with other data already in the ad network, which then can be used to create much more tailored and relevant advertising delivered when most relevant.

“We have taken the element of timing out of it and we can have the message appear later,” said Emrich. “We look at the beacon data as another input and Gimbal has a bright line of location.”

The interesting twist here is that the intent is to actually decrease the amount of mobile advertising but make the ads delivered better.

“It’s actually a way to send fewer ads but better targeted,” said Emrich, who noted that his company’s core values include privacy with opt-in and consent requirements along with an easy way to opt out.

“We’re still at the first inning of understanding how location impacts intent,” he said.

Still the first inning, but the game just got bigger and more interesting.

 

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