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A Marketer's Guide to Beacons & Bluetooth LE

A Marketer's Guide to Beacons & Bluetooth Low Energy.
A thorough publication on Beacon & BLE with evaluations of the major providers. This playbook will be helpful for brands, agencies, and those who are curious of the nascent space.


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A Marketer's Guide to Beacons & Bluetooth LE

  1. 1. 1 W W W. R E I N V E N T I O N H U B . C O M W W W. R E I N V E N T I O N C L I Q . C O M I N N O VAT I O N L A B A M A R K E T E R ’ S G U I D E T O B E A C O N S A N D B L U E T O O T H L E
  2. 2. C O N T E N T S 1 I. I N T R O D U C T I O N T O B L E ! II. D E F I N I T I O N S ! III. C R I T E R I A D E E P D I V E S ! IV. V E N D O R L A N D S C A P E S C O R E C A R D ! V. I M P L E M E N TAT I O N ! VI. E X A M P L E S ! VII. A P P E N D I X 2 6 7 1 2 1 3 1 4 1 6
  3. 3. Y O U R R E M O T E C O N T R O L T O T H E P H Y S I C A L W O R L D Entering a store, you are welcomed via your smartphone with a curated list of recommended items based off of your past purchases and preferences. A map of the store is shown with each item that you added to your cart online at home and displays the best route on how to get to them. As you browse the store, coupons and specials are sent to your screen based on which products you are currently looking at. ! ! ! ! The scenarios are endless when you think of the technology that merges the digital and physical world together so well it’s tough to distinguish the two. The thought of our phones picking up signals from our environment and communicating with other devices almost feels like an episode of the Jetsons. This is a huge stepping stone as we start moving closer to the Internet of Things where all of our devices inform one another for better experiences. *Photos from 2
  4. 4. P R O X I M I T Y V S L O C AT I O N Beacons are a game-changing addition to the proximity marketing conversation. Not to devalue its predecessors, but beacons add a level of granularity that Wi-Fi and GPS targeting could never reach. Where LOCATION refers to where someone is at that moment, PROXIMITY is determined by how near/far you are in relation to a set beacon - thus giving them two different uses and benefits. While GPS targeting is the most esteemed location based opportunity at the moment, it isn’t very accurate indoors. With Bluetooth LE, precision down to the inch makes this nascent space so special. Customized messaging can be based on how long you dwell in an area, your trajectory to or from the beacon, and even distance. 1-3 inches 7-50 meters 100-300 meters F L A S H S A L E 3 0 % O F F ! !T H A N K Y O U F O R S H O P P I N G , M I C H A E L ! !!!!! Enjoy your sneakers!
 Come back next week for 15% off !W E L C O M E T O YA N K E E S TA D I U M ! !!!!I T I S 76 B R O A D P R E C I S E D M A B T L E G P S W I F I Z I P M O B I L E S E A R C H C E L L T O W E R 3
  5. 5. W H Y D O E S T H I S M AT T E R ? Beacon technology has many applications outside of messaging purposes that further add to it’s value. Aside from media and marketing, the implications may affect the way businesses operate via store layout, customer service, and even inventory management. Often times, we know our customer better online than we do offline based on web preferences, habits, consumption behavior, etc. Beacons are providing a way that we can forge the two together and have a more holistic view of our consumer base. Imagine having the same level of precision and insights in the real world that we are only used to seeing online. Being able to seamlessly fuse these worlds will transform the customer experience entirely and make brands smarter in real time. Attaching web analytics to the analog world will allow companies to access a new level of consumer experience. Retailers will be able to optimize the efforts of customer service associates based on foot traffic; CPG companies can send specific offers to shoppers at shelf to close the last three feet; Automotive dealers can determine which models are garnering the most attention depending on weather, time of day, etc. This does not even begin to touch on the OOH opportunities this technology will present. Soon enough, frictionless payment will be a reality — but that will come once consumers get comfortable with the technology. It is important to roll out this technology properly to avoid consumer rejection and be susceptible to privacy backlash. 4
  6. 6. B U T F I R S T… L E T ’ S D E F I N E Before we dive into the criteria of how we evaluated the players in the space, let’s take a look at some of the buzzwords. Although these terms are often used interchangeably, they are very distinct from each other. BEEKn, a pioneering blog for BLE, succinctly lays out the differences: Beacons: A beacon is any device that transmits a signal which allows another device to determine its proximity to the broadcaster. In a store, a beacon lets a customer’s app determine that it’s close to the candy aisle. The beacon doesn’t transmit content, it simply transmits a signal that lets a user’s phone or tablet figure out what its proximity is to the beacon. The content (a coupon, for example) is delivered separately to the user’s app. Phones and tablets can also be referred to and used as beacons. Bluetooth Low Energy: This is the specification for one type of signal that beacons transmit. There are other types of signals that power beacons (i.e. audio signals) but Bluetooth LE has the advantage that it is low energy and is ‘native’ to most modern phones and tablets. iBeacon: The term iBeacon and beacon are often used interchangeably. But iBeacon is a trademarked term by Apple that refers to the protocols, devices and uses of Bluetooth LE to create user experiences. Apple is vague about what it specifically means by an iBeacon. We take the definition to include the software protocols inside a user’s app, the use cases and user experiences, and the specifications that Apple requires of any beacon that can be called an iBeacon. They have not yet released those specifications. 6 *Source: 5
  7. 7. Established partners in the space provide beacons that are manufactured on their own as well as white-labeled devices from other producers. The key criteria we have considered when assessing hardware capabilities are as follows: ! • Customizable signal strength allows for more contextually relevant push messaging, as proximity is a key metric in assessing a customer’s true location in-store. The ability to customize messaging depending on dwell time and trajectory of movement are advanced options. ! • Battery quality is important to consider given the user experience and the fact that defunct devices can disrupt in-store campaigns. Options include interchangeable watch batteries, integrated batteries, or plug-in-socket varieties. Depending on where the beacon will be implemented (on shelf, in ceilings, on wall, etc), it will greatly influence which you select. Most beacons are quoted to last from 1 to 5 years without a battery change.
 • While we are mainly evaluating Bluetooth LE beacons, we do want to make sure that we recognize beacons that utilize sonic technology as well. Sonic technology uses high frequency audio that isn't noticeable to our ears and has been around for many years. They are the in-store beacon predecessor prior to Bluetooth LE. While Sonic isn't as granular as BLE, a phone’s microphone picks up the sound waves to initiate device communication rather than bluetooth being on. C R I T E R I A D E E P D I V E S Hardware 6
  8. 8. As more companies get into the beacon ecosystem, beacons/devices themselves (hardware) will become a commodity in which the software and services will be the main offering. We looked at many facets of each provider’s software capabilities to get a sense of how turnkey it could be for brands. ! We assessed whether the solution providers have a consumer-facing app already in market, integrations within 3 rd party apps, or have the ability to layer in external CRM databases - each option being unique to how messaging will be communicated to our client’s consumers. ! • Consumer-facing apps: With existing applications already in market on Android and iOS app stores, vendors have the ability to use 1 st party data with guaranteed reach, and serve relevant content to consumers who have already established purchase intent. Through our research we have seen these apps in the form of shopping companion apps, barcode scanners, and fashion look books. ! • 3 rd party app integration: Providers are also looking to integrate their capabilities by way of a software development kit (SDK) into consumer apps to broaden their reach. This allows them to facilitate proximity based and contextually relevant messaging to consumers who have downloaded their app already. By creating a network of 3 rd party apps, reach is extended beyond a brand’s own user base.
 • CRM databases: Retailers and brands that integrate their CRM and loyalty card data facilitate the development of marketing campaigns that are helpful to the consumer’s path to purchase as opposed to disrupting the shopping experience. Push notifications and creative would have the ability to communicate with shoppers based upon their previous purchases and purchase intent. Pulling in the virtual cart into the physical store with customized messaging brings the in-store experience up another level. C R I T E R I A D E E P D I V E S Software 7
  9. 9. A few of the players in the ecosystem that we have researched are also developing dashboard consoles that will allow agencies and/or brands to manage the beacons, upload and customize creative assets/push messaging, and view beacon analytics. 
 • Beacon management: As retailers look to deploy beacons in multiple stores in various locations it is very valuable to monitor the beacon’s battery life, alter messaging in real-time, gauge trajectory of consumers going in vs out, develop creative, and retrieve analytics from the custom dashboard. 
 • Analytics: Most providers offer a form of beacon analytics within the dashboard. Variation comes in the form of granularity, interface customization, and the ability to leverage client CRM data and report back on performance.
 • Creative Capabilities: While implementing beacons will require a bit of development work, there are offerings that make creative building turn-key. The ability to drag & drop into pre-made templates or plugging in client API feeds allow multiple versioning quick and easy. The layering of external data feeds i.e. weather triggers can make messaging much more relevant and valuable to the consumer.
 • Security: Some partners have built out protocols that utilize additional measures of security for the beacon. “Free riding” is where someone is able to capture the beacon’s UDID and then transmit their own content onto user’s phones. It is important for brand safety as well as privacy to align with partners that take the most steps to prevent “free riding”. C R I T E R I A D E E P D I V E S Software (continued) 8
  10. 10. C R I T E R I A D E E P D I V E S Software Dashboard Examples Sonic Notify Swirl Nomi Mobiquity 9
  11. 11. Business models within this nascent space tend to be all over the map, ranging from managed services, providing Software as a Service (SaaS), and giving access to partner applications or venues. Where first to market providers were up-selling beacons to a managed service, we are now seeing that beacons are being offered at low cost to free of charge with a service plan. ! • Managed Service: For clients without the internal resources to dedicate towards managing their beacon campaigns, some partners are able to provide a full suite of services. These services include deployment and implementation of beacons, creative building, technical support, optimization of push and creative messaging, and reporting. ! • Additional Offerings: Aside from beacons, some vendors provide additional solutions for in-store tracking and marketing programs via Wi-Fi and Video. With these offerings, a holistic view on in-store activity could greatly benefit clients who are interested in heat mapping foot traffic and more. ! • Software as a Service: Opposed to a Managed Service approach, SaaS is the licensing of a provider’s platform to control beacon campaigns in-house. Usually brands will start at a Managed Service and then move into a SaaS model once they become comfortable with the technology and platform. We encourage brands who choose to utilize SaaS to shop around as much as possible and see which platform works best with their internal data and which partners are more flexible than others in customizing their interface. ! • Partnerships: As companies are starting to build out their networks to provide scalable solutions, 3rd party applications and high traffic venues are utilized as content publishers in this ecosystem. Partnering with relevant apps and venues allow a brand to tap into an additional source other than their own app. While some clients are able to use their own app to message their customer base, those without an app are able to take advantage of already established audiences to purchase media. Venues such as malls and shopping centers are ideal partners for retailers and CPG clients to drive foot traffic in store and/or distribute offers and deals. C R I T E R I A D E E P D I V E S Service 1 0
  12. 12. * This line item evaluates whether or not the vendor has an established consumer app available for download in Play/Apple app stores for use not directly tied to BLE services ** Partners with the ability to gauge signal trajectory can deliver messaging based upon whether a consumer is entering, leaving, or dwelling in an identified region *** Battery management assesses whether or not a vendor's dashboard allows users to survey the vitality of deployed beacons **** In order to secure more reach, partners are working to integrate their SDK's into large scale 3rd party apps used for shopping lists, weather updates, etc. Robust offering / Has capability Has capability but can improve Does not have capability 1 1 In-Store Beacon Platform Scorecard Criteria Mobiquity Swirl Nomi Sonic Notify ShopKick Estimote Roximity PayPal InMarket Provider of Beacons Adjustable Beacon Signal Strength x x x x x x x x x Type of battery - replaceable x x x x x x Type of battery - integrated x x x x x x x x x Battery life management *** x x x x x x x x x Signal replication / magnifier x x x x x x x x x Compatibility with both iOS and Android Consumer Facing App* Ability to set beacon regions/zoning x x x x x x x x x Manage Beacons from Dashboards x x x x x x x x x Gauging Signal Trajectory** x x x x x x x x x Customization of creative assets x x x x x x x x x Robustness of Creative Capabilities x x x x x x x x x Analytic capabilities within dashboard x x x x x x x x x Robustness of Analytics x x x x x x x x x Integration of CRM/Loyalty data x x x x x x x x x Customization of platform interface x x x x x x x x x Security Measures x x x x x x x x x Managed Service x x x x x x x x x Software as Service/Self Service x x x x x x x x x Integration with 3rd party apps for broader reach x x x x x x x x x Establishing a physical network via venues **** x x x x x x x x x Sonic Technology Product x x x x x x x x Wi-Fi products x x x x x x x Video Products x x x x x x x POS Products x x x x x x x x ServiceSoftwareHardware
  13. 13. I M P L E M E N TAT I O N P H A S I N G The last thing any brand wants is to overwhelm their audience and make them fearful or apprehensive of the emerging Bluetooth LE technology. In a nascent space such as this one, it is truly up to marketers and their agencies to ensure new tactics are rolled out in a manner that will encourage consumers to become avid users as opposed to agitated ones. There are a few recommended steps that will aid acclimating consumers to the technology: Phase I :: Listening
 Establish beacon presence in key locations in order to gauge penetration of Bluetooth with core consumers. Begin gathering foot traffic analytics, allowing your brand to discover the ideal moments in which you should eventually be messaging your consumer. Listening is extremely valuable in an attribution capacity as well - further connecting the physical/digital worlds by tracing media to real world action. Phase II :: Messaging
 Utilize introductory messaging that will welcome consumers to establishments and alert them of exclusive deals. During this phase, integrating CRM/Loyalty card data with your selected Beacon platform should be a priority. Continue to gather analytics on visit frequency, duration, and traffic flow. Phase III :: Engaging
 Now that you know which consumers you will be able to engage with and when it is best to reach them, slowly unroll custom messaging based on the data in your CRM. Messaging based on context around the consumer and making their experience with the brand more valuable is key. The goal is for the consumer to eventually expect this level of service, engagement, and experience in the future. Phase IV :: Optimizing
 The consumer will constantly evolve and their expectations on interactions with brands will change. By continually building insights off beacon analytics, it will allow brands to optimize messaging, explore optimal store layouts, and truly tap the potential of our mobile devices. 1 2
  14. 14. E X E C U T I O N E X A M P L E S Even within the last few months, many brands and retailers have tested beacon technology. No one has perfected their strategies just yet as it is so new and evolves every day. Below are a few applications that we found interesting: Oscar Mayer’s campaign is targeting deli meat customers while they shop in various grocery stores SF Giant’s Stadium automatically checked in fans to receive special offers, map to their favorite concessions, and upgrade seats Ruben’s House Museum enhanced their customer’s experience that told stories of each of the paintings and artwork. Also provided interactive experience that immersed the visitor in the art Alex & Ani retailers implemented beacons in all of their stores, nationwide. They are looking at store traffic patterns to determine in-store trends that affect their sales PayPal created their own beacons for retailers to allow frictionless payments. Expect these to roll out soon SXSW installed beacons around the conference area to prompt attendees to discuss the sessions they were in. It also aided in the registration process 1 3
  15. 15. M I C H A E L L I U M I C H A E L T O N G E M I C H A E L . L I U @ D E N T S U A E G I S . C O M M I C H A E L . T O N G E @ C A R AT. C O M 9 1 7 . 3 2 6 . 7 1 1 8 9 1 7 . 3 2 6 . 7 2 2 7 W W W. R E I N V E N T I O N H U B . C O M W W W. R E I N V E N T I O N C L I Q . C O M @ _ M L I U @ M I C H A E L _ T O N G E Q U E S T I O N S ? 
 F E E L F R E E T O R E A C H O U T T O U S !
  16. 16. A P P E N D I X 16 *Photo from mmm bacon beacon… 1 5
  17. 17. A P P E N D I X MOBIQUITY: Mobiquity Networks is focused on connecting consumers and brands via online, social and mobile channels. Mobquity leverages Wi-Fi, NFC, and QR Codes in addition to BLE technology. Currently positioned as both a managed service and SaaS provider, Mobiquity gains most of their reach through partnerships with companies such as Simon Malls, while simultaneously working to secure 3rd party partnerships. Mobiquity is currently installed in over 100 malls covering the top 17 DMA’s representing over 120 million monthly shopper visits. This type of established partnership makes Mobiquity a partner worth exploring for any major retail brand that has a footprint in malls. ESTIMOTE: Based upon the current use cases shared by Estimote the company looks to be a great solution for boutique retail and small business partners. Piloting with partners across several categories in varying sizes they have over 20,000 developers building on top of their platform. Some examples include hotel, museum, health insurance, and apparel companies. Given their nimble nature, quick installation, and aesthetically pleasing beacons you can expect to see Estimote grow its presence significantly in coming months. SWIRL: Swirl is an ideal solution for retailers as well as publishers and lifestyle brands. Similar to the other vendors, retail clients can integrate the Swirl SDK into their existing app, what differentiates Swirl is their history as an established consumer application as well as their creative customization abilities. Their creative tool is very simple to use and surprisingly robust for most. Please note that Swirl is currently phasing out their look book application, looking to focus efforts on delivering contextual messaging. Swirl has pilots in place with several top retailers and third party mobile apps. Through integration of the Swirl SDK the company expects to reach an audience of 100M consumers by the end of the year. NOMI: Nomi prides themselves as “Omniture for the physical world”, providing offline insight to clients’ conversion funnel. Nomi has a holistic business model in which they are plugging in additional products, including POS, Labor, Marketing Calendars, JavaScript tags- as well as BLE, Wifi and Video sensors inside the store to provide a 360 degree view of the customer and every step of the customer journey leading to purchase. Nomi has the product suite necessary for a large enterprise client willing to layer in their existing consumer data to develop a robust custom analytic suite to examine their consumers offline data with digital granularity. ! V E N D O R S U M M A R I E S 1 6
  18. 18. A P P E N D I X SONIC NOTIFY: Sonic Notify began providing mobile marketing solutions by leveraging sonic technology in 2011. Their platform makes it possible to engage in-store shoppers and augment their experience with deals, product info, games, and other exclusive content. What separates them from competitors is the ability to reach a larger amount of smartphones due to their combination of Sonic Notify Audio, iBeacon, and Android BLE technologies. By leveraging sonic technology, Sonic Notify has the ability to support devices without Bluetooth turned on. SHOPKICK: Shopkick has a user base of 7 million, the download count provided by comScore. Shopkick consumers use the app to plan their trips and garner rewards called “kicks”. These kicks are then redeemed for items in the Shopkick virtual shopping mall. Shopkick will provide enterprise clients with a dashboard to manage the beacons in addition to access to their in-house design team to customize creative assets. When it comes to in-store marketing ShopKick provides consumers with rewards, and have partnered with the likes of Visa and Mastercard to allow for purchases with “kicks” at key retail partner locations, including Best Buy. Similar to Sonic Notify, ShopKick also utilizes both Sonic & BLE technologies. At the moment, their experience lies solely in the SK app. ROXIMITY: Roximity is designed as an enterprise solution that allows brands/retailers to send targeted messages to customers within a physical venue. In addition to push/in-app messaging Roximity leverages SMS to reach consumers with contextually relevant messaging to influence spending. Recently unrolling a partnership with the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclay’s Center, Roximity gives the industry a great example of how to add value to a consumer’s experience. Fans attending Nets’ home games can learn about seat upgrades and restaurant deals as long their Bluetooth is on. In addition to this partnership, Roximity has also updated their consumer facing app helping users find nearby deals by leveraging GPS and BLE technology. PAYPAL: Currently PayPal is focused on establishing penetration of physical store payments, connecting a consumers’ PayPal app upon entry of a store. Leveraging BLE devices PayPal is looking to make this checkout as seamless as possible for consumers. The PayPal app has approximately 5MM active users in the US. The app is used to find nearby stores and offers participating with PayPal. Merchants can drive sales given PayPal’s partnerships with point of sale vendors, direct integration with retailers, and a Discover partnership enabled acceptance of PayPal as a payment method in store. Outside of payments, PayPal does not offer any media opportunities at the moment.
 InMARKET: InMarket is established in the consumer app space. With over 40 million active shoppers in their network, users access lists, coupons, reward points, loyalty cards, recipes, and product reviews. Apps include Checkpoints, ListEase, Extra Extra, and Epicurious. They don’t currently have an enterprise dashboard, but they are willing to provide custom reporting and creative development handled by an account manager. Metrics captured include brand awareness, purchase intent, and return on investment. The company plans to be in 1,000 retail locations by the end of April 2014, and a projected 10,000 by the end of 2014. V E N D O R S U M M A R I E S 1 7
  19. 19. A P P E N D I X Tode, Chantal. "Oscar Mayer Taps IBeacons, Geo-targeting to Boost Shopper Marketing." - Mobile Marketer. Mobile Marketer, 8 Apr. 2014. Web. 09 May 2014. "San Francisco Giants Introduce New Fan Friendly Technology and Ballpark Amenities for the 2014 Season at AT&T Park." San Francisco Giants. SF Giants, 26 Mar. 2014. Web. 09 May 2014. Chu, Serena. "Apple's IBeacon Tech Brings Art Gallery To Life - PSFK." PSFK RSS. PSFK, 31 Jan. 2014. Web. 09 May 2014. McFarland, Matt. "Why Alex and Ani Is Embracing IBeacons in All of Its Stores." Washington Post. The Washington Post, 13 Feb. 2014. Web. 09 May 2014. Warren, Christina. "IBeacon Comes to SXSW." Mashable. Mashable, 07 Mar. 2014. Web. 09 May 2014. Silverman, Adam. "Forrester." Research : Research : The Emergence Of Beacons In Retail. Forrester, 12 Mar. 2014. Web. 09 May 2014. Costa, Tony. "Forrester." Research : Research : You Are Here: Location Analytics And The Rebirth Of Customer Experience. Forrester, 11 Feb. 2014. Web. 09 May 2014. Thompson, Doug. "BEEKn - Beacons, brands and culture on the Internet of Things." BEEKn. Beekn. 09 May 2014 <>. "UX Magazine." UX Magazine. 09 May 2014 <>. Danova, Tony. "BEACONS: What They Are, How They Work, And Why Apple's iBeacon Technology Is Ahead Of The Pack." Business Insider. 26 Apr. 2014. Business Insider, Inc. 09 May 2014 <http://>. R E S O U R C E S U S E D D U R I N G R E S E A R C H : 1 8

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A Marketer's Guide to Beacons & Bluetooth Low Energy. A thorough publication on Beacon & BLE with evaluations of the major providers. This playbook will be helpful for brands, agencies, and those who are curious of the nascent space. @_MLiu @Michael_Tonge Request below if you would like a PDF copy.


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