Location intelligence has become important for both individuals and enterprises in today’s hyper connected world. From using location data to hail the nearest cab to tracking employee attendance through proximity sensors, location information has practically become ubiquitous.
Among the host of location-based technologies, Apple’s iBeacon technology, and Google’s Eddystone beacon protocol are proving to be popular in the proximity market. Now, let us first understand how these two technologies impact the market. Introduced in 2013, iBeacon technology allows enterprises and brands to reach the target audience on their smartphones in the most seamless and contextual manner. Despite its many benefits, the technology encountered certain roadblocks (the need for an app, for instance) to widespread adoption across big and small businesses.
Eddystone beacon protocol is Google’s proximity solution that helps businesses deliver similar location-based mobile experiences through the Chrome browser, thereby primarily doing away with the need for native branded apps. This can prove to be a huge incentive for brands, especially in today’s overly cluttered app market. The entire proximity ecosystem that leverages Eddystone beacons is called the Physical Web. Google forecasts that the Physical Web can be leveraged for a wide variety of unique and previously unseen use cases, all based on the core premise of bringing the power of the internet and web to interactions in the physical world. Apart from the basic differences, visible on the outside, the Eddystone protocol has many other core advantages over iBeacon technology. From a business as well as a consumer standpoint, the Eddystone protocol is slowly but surely becoming more impactful and user friendly. In this post, we will discuss the top ten reasons why businesses should invest in Eddystone beacons and the Physical Web over iBeacon technology.
1. Eliminate the need for an app
One of the basic features of iBeacon technology is the need for native apps. Many big brands like Macy’s and Target have built their very own beacon-based app, in order to provide personalized brand experiences. Building and maintaining such apps, however, are not always feasible for all kinds of businesses (especially for SMEs). This is where the Eddystone beacon protocol has an edge; it directly leverages the Chrome app on smartphones to deliver contextual mobile experiences. Users just need to click on the Physical Web notification or URL in order to be redirected to the relevant web interface.
2. Easy discoverability
In today’s burgeoning mobile and app ecosystem, it is extremely hard for brands to solve the app and brand discovery problem. New brands especially, have to spend significant resources in order to get their app discovered among the many thousands of apps available on the app store. This is where the true power of the Physical Web comes into play. People can now walk up to any smart device, be it a movie poster, a vending machine, a bus stop, or any other physical object and receive relevant content straight on their smartphones, via the Chrome app without the need for downloading multiple apps. Thus, the Physical Web solves the discovery problem better than any other location-based technology.
3. Easy content management
As mentioned earlier, the Eddystone protocol completely relies on Physical Web URLs to transmit content. These Physical Web URLs redirect users to relevant web sites, as required by businesses. Managing and editing web content is certainly more easy, user friendly and less time consuming than maintaining content for apps. In addition, social media content can also be easily integrated with the Physical Web.
4. Reusability of content
Almost all companies and brands today maintain an online presence either through websites or social media handles. Content and online assets at such places are dynamic and suited to meet the changing needs of brands. The Eddystone protocol allows businesses to directly transmit website URLs and even change URLs, based on the context, thereby making content more reusable. Precise customer targeting can be achieved by simply redirecting to a relevant URL instead of redesigning the app UX, as might be the case with beacon-based apps.
5. Cost effective
The cost of developing and maintaining a beacon-enabled app is certainly high. Eddystone beacons and the Physical Web are open source and primarily promote easy and free sharing of content via the Chrome browser, thus resulting in significant cost savings. All a business has to do is to buy a few beacons and have a URL that they wish to transmit to customers. In case you are interested in leveraging the Eddystone protocol, take a look at Beaconstac; it allows you to easily leverage the Physical Web and also gather valuable proximity analytics.
6. Resolves app clutter
As mentioned earlier, in today’s crowded app market, brands have to constantly battle each other in order to occupy the precious screen space of users. With new apps being launched everyday, users constantly uninstall apps from their smartphones for a variety of reasons from saving phone space to trying out new apps. This is the harsh environment in which beacon-based apps also compete in. However, the Eddystone protocol leverages the Chrome app. Chrome being a high utility search browser, is not often uninstalled by users. In addition, Chrome also enjoys a massive install base and recently hit 1 billion downloads on the Google Play Store. This makes Physical Web interactions all the more attractive to businesses, as it ensures wide spread customer reach.
7. Best suited for one time applications
Many scenarios, like, music festivals, tech conferences and sports events are instances where user engagement is limited to the particular event. In such cases, users often uninstall the app after the event has ended. Such apps while being useful, result in significant cost to the company. Many recent events, from, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival to the Mobile World Congress had all developed beacon-based apps to engage visitors. An easier way to create the same impact at such events is to leverage the Physical Web at a fraction of the cost of developing an app.
8. Ability to suit unique use-cases
While beacon-based apps can be useful, Eddystone beacons and the Physical Web can be leveraged for a wide variety of use cases, both simple and complex. For instance, with the Physical Web, users can easily pay for parking through the payment URL broadcasted at the parking meter. Another example would be receiving movie information like show timings, movie reviews etc, near a movie poster. While such instances are both interesting and useful, developing beacon-enabled apps for them defeats the purpose.
9. Lesser need for technical support
Perfecting mobile experiences and meeting the changing user needs is a problem that can be addressed easily by the Physical Web than by beacon-based apps. Apps require significant contribution from technical teams in order to match changing user behavior and needs. In addition, apps need to be specially built to be compatible across several screen sizes, browsers and settings, thus making it technically complex. In comparison, the Physical Web leverages standard web technologies. All browsers on all major platforms are largely HTML 5 compatible, thus creating similar user experiences across platforms.
10. Better mobile app security
By nature, apps, even the ones offered by big vendors rely on local databases that risk exposure to data theft. Once again, the Physical Web uses fairly standard web technologies that have been developed over the past many years. With well established content delivery networks and solid security services, the Physical Web data can be well secured.
Thus, given the many advantages that Eddystone beacons and the Physical Web render, brands and businesses, regardless of the size, should prefer investing in the Physical Web over iBeacon technology. Even for big brands that have built and continue to maintain beacon-based apps, leveraging the Physical Web is a great way to increase reach among customers without apps.
If you are planning an Eddystone beacon pilot, take a look at Beaconstac, that includes everything you need to kickstart your campaign in under 15 minutes. Using Beaconstac you can set up your own campaign, without a developer’s help!