|A Facebook's beacon in Strand's Rare Books|
division (Source: GeoMarketing)
Twitter Ventures, Hearst Ventures and SoftBank Capital, three major media groups, have invested $18 million in Swirl, a start-up (2011) specialized in micro-location with beacons ($32 million in 3 rounds). Swirl's motto is: "beacon powered marketing at scale".
The demand of retailers and advertisers for beacon technology (indoor positioning) is growing: over 1 million indoor location deployments by 2020, says ABI Research. One can expect the majority of big retailers and malls to adopt this in-door advertising technology and deploy beacons in their stores. For instance, Mobiquity Networks will provide beacon technology to Macerich (300 malls, 37,000 storefronts, "America’s largest mall-based beacon mobile advertising network just got bigger" ). Apple has its own standard: iBeacon for iOS devices.
Beacon wireless sensors use Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). They are produced by companies like Estimote and kontakt.io. They allow brands and retailers to push promotion and advertising to consumers carrying a smartphone in the proximity. It is real-time, location-based advertising. The beacons will be able to link and coordinate online and offline marketing, which will thereby become fully programmatic (Swirl already offers a programmatic platform).
With beacons, the total environment is becoming interactive, engaging not only shoppers but also museum, stadium and amusement park visitors, travelers and commuters, tourists, at the very Moment Of Truth (or ZMOT as Google calls it). Advertisers reach the consumer at the point of sale.
Meanwhile, Facebook is implementing its own beacon technology pilot (Place Tips) in a few stores in New York (among the stores, the second-hand bookstore Strand, cf. supra). In France, the Monoprix supermarket chain is testing beacons and geofencing with Catalina C-wallets in the Paris region (22 stores in the test).
What will Twitter use the Beacons for?