As beacons continue to be rolled out across the globe at an accelerated pace by large corporates including retailers, outdoor advertising companies and small business owners, it’s now evident there’s two themes emerging around how beacons can add value to marketers;

1. Active Targeting –reaching people in the moment and influencing their behavior based on their hyper-proximity to a specific beacon within the network via a Push Notification.

2. Passive Targeting – reaching people after they have been in hyper-proximity to a beacon within the network via traditional digital marketing formats such as ad-banners or video ads. Essentially this is a type of re-targeting which allows marketers to re-target people based on their physical behavior instead of just online indicators (ie browsing, clicks, searches, etc).

These methods present exciting opportunities for brands to deliver new value to their marketing efforts and influence bottom line outcomes (ie sell stuff). However, based on our experience and industry expertise it’s not wise to judge these 2 methods as equal nor should they be treated as one size fits all, different brands will equate different value based on their unique circumstances and objectives.

At Airmarket we’ve thought about this a lot and spoken to many people within the advertiser ecosystem from brands to trading desks and everyone in between. Ultimately, when it comes to the unique value beacons can bring to the marketplace, global brands are ultimately interested in how they can influence a person when they are in a specific location or moment. (Google calls these “micro-moments”).

What do I mean by this? Let’s say you have beacons placed in 10,000 convenience stores across the country, a brand who sells products within these stores is primarily concerned with getting people to buy their product while they’re in the store / moment.

With beacons this is possible because we know a person is close to the beacon inside the store and using a platform such as Airmarket the brand can easily access these beacons programmatically to deliver a Notification to the consumer and influence conversion while the they’re in the moment. (The other advantage in this scenario is the brand doesn’t need to rely on investing in their own beacon sensors or having their brand app installed on people’s phones as they’re leveraging an existing network infrastructure of beacons and apps via Airmarket).

Using the same example, method 2 for obvious reasons become less exciting for a brand because the opportunity / moment has passed and whilst beacon re-targeting opportunity might add some incremental value, it’s similar to using a variety of existing signal methods including GPS, WiFi, etc which allow brands the ability to re-target people based on physical context albeit minus some unique capabilities beacons allow around location hyper-accuracy.

Another important aspect brands should consider per the above is the advertising format in each scenario. With a Push Notification, an advertiser is actively delivering an experience which appears on the home screen of a mobile device. This is a very different experience to traditional ad formats which exist today on mobile devices which are mostly a legacy of desktop advertising (ie ad banners and pre-roll video ads).  We like many other mobile-first media companies believe legacy desktop methods shouldn’t apply to mobile and there should be new ways to influence and interact with people via their mobile devices.

The re-targeting aspect is passive and requires people to be browsing in their web browser or apps, at Airmarket we believe this is nowhere near as valuable as a Notification because people are in a moment focused on what they are doing (web browsing / app usage) and the ads which appear around this experience are viewed mostly as wallpaper. This is reinforced by various market data such as response rates with digital advertising offering less less than 0.01% (ie you’re more likely to die in an airplane accident that click on an ad – search excluded).

So when it comes to beacons and marketing; It’s much more about the moment that is, not was.

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