Blue Bite is a NYC start-up that’s been hanging out around the edges of the digital signage and digital OOH sectors for a few years – marketing the capability and know-how to bridge smartphones and screens with tech like QR codes, SMS and NFC tags.
The announced this week a deal with a Toronto company called Freckle IoT a partnership that would result in the largest beacons-driven proximity network in North America.
That had me intrigued, but the press release was something that in my old newspaper editor days we’d refer to as whipped air – a lot of buzzwords and vague assertions, but no substance.
So I told Blue Bite co-founder and CEO Mikhail Damiani his PR was crappy, and to his credit, he said there was a reason for the vagueness, and offered to get on the phone and fill me in.
Yesterday’s release was a bit of a teaser, he explained, and more substantive stuff was coming out over the next 3-6 weeks.
What’s going, he explained, is Blue Bite is actively aggregating all the little beacons trial projects out there (there have not been many rollouts, as yet) into a larger, harmonized network. While there are many different beacon manufacturers out there, most work pretty much the same way, and those with proprietary aspects can be harmonized, as well.
The Freckle IoT side of things really relates to the parent company, Juice Mobile, which is an ad-tech company that works with a lot of the biggest mobile app companies. These are the sorts of social media message and pix apps that many/most people have on their phones. Juice does programmatic ad placement.
So … an aggregated network of beacons across a continent starts to make much more sense for media guys than a bunch of onesey-twoseys beacons deployments here and there.
If this all sounds familiar, think digital OOH and what Adcentricity and SeeSaw were doing, and rVue and Vukunet are still doing. There are direct similarities.
Beacons typically have a matching socks arrangement where the beacons in a store put out signals that are picked up by phones when they come in range of that stores if they are running that store app. So the beacon (one of the socks) needs to match up with the equipped app (the other sock). Problem is, you have to get people interested in downloading and using things like store and venue apps, or the coupon/rewards app from a company like ShopKick. If you don’t have the app, even if you have Bluetooth turned on ain’t nothing gonna happen.
The idea with this is that the code to pick up beacon signals would sit instead inside some of the most downloaded and used apps out there – notably social media apps. So the user base would be exponentially bigger, and as someone moved around during a day, it would not take specific apps for specific “engagement” activity to happen location by location.
The proposition from this partnership is that some 60,000 beacons can be rolled up into an aggregated offer.
Says the news release:
“With this partnership, we are embarking on the next era of mobile activation – which is based on The Internet of Things,” said Neil Sweeney, President & CEO of Freckle IoT. “As more people adopt connected devices, marketers have grown eager to engage consumers on the path-to-purchase using hyper-local strategies. The scale of this launch means we can provide brands with infinitely greater opportunities to engage their target audience than with what is possible under the boxed-in solutions available in the market.”
The partnership harnesses Blue Bite’s longstanding knowledge of Out-of-Home mobile activations and taps into the company’s extensive roster of location partners. Freckle IoT’s open beacon network connects the company’s growing number of application partners with its beacon ecosystem, solving the issue of scale in proximity deployments and bringing an additional layer of data sophistication to client campaigns. Instead of being locked within a closed framework of standalone beacon locations with a dedicated application, brands can harness any application enabled with Freckle IoT’s Software Development Kit (SDK) to tap into the beacon network and deliver engaging messaging to their target audience.
Capitalizing on the promise of the Internet of Things, beacons are placed in inventive locations, including: transit; street furniture; airports; college campuses; movie theaters; bars; and taxis. The beacons enable applications carrying Freckle IoT’s SDK to provide rich content through mobile or wearable devices and target in-app advertising on a hyper-local level.
“Brands crave innovative ways to use connected devices to engage their consumers in contextually relevant ways,” said Mikhail Damiani, CEO & Co-founder of Blue Bite. “The fact is, the tools haven’t existed for brands to deliver on widespread value and scalability with low barriers to entry – until now.”
Through this approach, brands and agencies can deliver innovative, contextually relevant messaging to engaged and interested consumers who have opted in, building connections and avoiding ‘spam’ or ‘junk mail’ like messaging.
It’s interesting stuff, and while beacons don’t have an obvious tie to digital signage, they need each other. If you want to get more people downloading apps and turning on Bluetooth, you need to remind them on site and in the moment. Nothing will do that like digital displays.