I’ve had some interesting conversations with senior people lately about the shiny object nature of emerging technology, and how the latest one – beacons – hasn’t really gone anywhere. I wasn’t sure that was true, but suggested it was going to take time – and getting away from a dependancy on specific phone apps – to take off.
New research suggests beacons and other types of proximity sensors actually are taking hold in public spaces like retail, with the numbers out there growing by 20% in the last quarter.
A company called Unacast – which has technology that connects retailers and their proximity solution providers with ad networks – has started keeping something called the Proxbook, which tracks proximity marketing campaigns and deployment figures.
Covering over 90% of the global market and data from all major players, this quarter the report also features a focus on retail as the most important vertical in proximity marketing. With little shared information on ROI, it has been challenging for brands and retailers to allocate marketing budget for proximity technology.
- The number of proximity sensors deployed globally has increased 17% to 6,201,000 from 5,103,500. The number of beacons stands at 4,988,500, a number which continues to track ABI Research’s forecast of 8 million beacons deployed by end of 2016 and 400 million by 2020;
- A spike in industry growth is expected with the recently launched native support of Google’s Eddystone beacon format on Chrome, liberating proximity interactions from the App by triggering URL’s directly. 80% of smartphones are now passively beacon-enabled and 45% of the industry now supports Eddystone (up from 5% nine months ago).
The report also says:
- One third of the top 50 US retailers plan to invest in major beacon projects this year, deploying over one million beacons between them;
- Retailers and PSPs are using proximity solutions, not just for push notifications and offers, but to enhance customer experience, service, efficiency and loyalty;
- Nine best in class retail cases (out of a total 100 in Proxbook) span a variety of geographies and business challenges. Exclusive findings include:
- Hearst’s Elle Magazine, ShopAdvisor, RetailMeNot and beacon provider Kontakt.io’s high profile ShopNow! Programme drove an estimated $439,950 revenue for participating stores;
- Smart mirrors, RFID readers and Kontakt.io beacons working together to suggest complementary clothing resulted in customers trying on 90% more items in House of Blue Jeans;
- Prominent New York retailers and shopping app, Notify Nearby, leveraged taste and location to notify shoppers of anything from new lines to special offers when they passed a store stocking their favourite brands, resulting in 52% of passers-by going into store, 28% making a purchase;
- London’s luxury retailers achieved 1.5x increase in purchase frequency via beacon-enabled app KNOMI, which based on expressed interest in designers, products, influencers and stores notified shoppers of relevant nearby stores and once in store, of product highlights;
- Leading UK shopping centre in Norwich and Proxama mapped consumer behaviour to explain dwindling footfall with beacons. Realizing consumers parked for free and shopped elsewhere, they optimized the beacons for engagement resulting in 50% increase in dwell time.
“Proximity marketing is about to explode,” suggests Unacast CEO Thomas Walle. “Across our 100 use cases in Proxbook, we are now seeing deployments go straight to commercial launch, skipping the pilot phase. The results they’re getting, alongside developments in technology and a maturing industry, are fuelling strong growth.”
He has a vested interest in suggesting boom times are ahead, but the numbers make it pretty clear beacons are far from being old news. The connection to the signage industry has always been a little elusive, but we’re seeing signs of companies like BroadSign bundling screen and phone content in distributed ad and messaging campaigns that can be initiated by beacons, and other companies doing work that drives beacon awareness, uses beacons to track and map audience movements and numbers, and help location-based mapping that starts on directories.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.