When it comes to cutting-edge marketing, one of the few technologies that have been in the buzz for the past few years is beacons. From the very beginning, beacons have been poised to change the way consumers interact with brands. However, over the years we have seen beacons being faced with quite a number of adoption barriers, primarily the need to have an app in place to interact with consumers and the ability to convince consumers to turn their Bluetooth ON.
However, the recent announcements in the beacon industry (launch of Nearby Notifications and Bluetooth 5) and changes to devices (Apple’s launch of wireless headphones called Airpods) and business strategies (70% of retailers said they plan to use beacons for location-based marketing by 2021) have changed the face of the beacon market.
According to a Business Insider Intelligence report, a total of 4.5 Million beacons are forecasted to be active in the U.S. by 2018. When compared to the 500,000 beacon deployments that occurred in 2015, this accounts for a staggering increase of 900% over a short span of three years. And this growth isn’t merely limited to the number of beacons that are being deployed.
While many marketers only think about using beacons to push phone notifications, over the past year, businesses across various verticals have leveraged beacons for a wide range of use cases. According to Proxbook’s Q4 2016 report, hyper-targeted advertising via proximity advertising networks, data monetization, and retargeting campaigns were the proximity services that saw the highest growth through 2016.
With so much happening in the beacon space, most marketers find it very overwhelming to keep up with the market. To help marketers with this, in this blog, we will discuss in detail about what to expect of the beacon industry in the year ahead.
1) Beacons will primarily be leveraged for online retargeting and attribution
Like we mentioned earlier, Q4 2016 saw a rising trend in which many a brand came forward and leveraged their location-specific consumer data for proximity services such as online retargeting, and attribution. Over the past few months, we at Beaconstac, too have seen a rising demand for the proximity retargeting service offered by the Beaconstac platform among our customers. Not surprising, given that in the case of proximity retargeting, the chances of a brand reaching out to the right customer with the right product is a lot higher.
For example, say a customer walks into your physical store and opens your brand’s mobile app on their mobile device to accept a push notification around product information, or to find his/her way around your store. Using proximity retargeting, you can leverage beacons to target him/her with relevant ads on their connected devices, once he/she leaves the store. These ads can help you drive him/her back to your store and buy a certain item based on where he/she was in your store.
And going by the manner in which demands for this proximity service have been expediting, experts predict that we will see more of this trend through 2017. It goes without saying that retargeting, and attribution together form an engine of growth that generates huge revenues for advertisers. However, one of the primary factors that matters the most here is – How fast can you scale? Can beacons be leveraged to run a campaign on a scale as massive as a nation-wide campaign?
In order to achieve this, it is highly critical for beacon networks to grow faster and work together, thus catering to the requirements put forward by brands whose products are sold in stores across the nation (or stores at more than one location) and want to launch a campaign that covers all of them. Therefore, the more that beacons networks interoperate, the faster they will be able to grow.
2) Beacon market will continue to grow at a steady pace in 2017
While a number of media publications have been quick to point out that, beacons have not been adopted by businesses as quickly as expected, recent ABI Research has forecasted the beacon market to continue on its upwards trajectory.
According to ABI Research, beacon shipments are expected to have a CAGR of 133% from 2016-2021. The report states that annual beacon shipments will triple from 2016-2017. As a result, more than 565 Million beacons will be shipped annually by 2021.
Such massive beacon deployments are likely to push businesses to take their beacon pilots to the next stage (i.e go public) and offer new, enhanced consumer experiences. While chances are that most consumers are unaware of beacons, exposure to such engaging location-based experiences will drive adoption forward. Especially given the fact that, Android devices pull more than 40 billion queries for beacon-related content from Google services every year.
3) Beacons will become a more versatile technology in 2017
Of recent, we have been hearing a lot about how beacons are being built into access points, LED lighting, digital signage, and mPOS devices to offer enhanced consumer experiences. For example, integrating beacons with your in-store signage system empowers your customers to decide what product information or details they want to see. It allows them to play an active role and gives them the feeling that the content was tailored directly to their interests and needs. Given that, 91% of consumers prefer more interactive/visual content that can be accessed on demand, beacons can offer quite a lot when it comes engaging in-store shopping experiences.
Adding on to that, the recent changes to devices, particularly the one driven by Apple’s decision to drop the headphone jack on the iPhone has pushed more and more people to turn their Bluetooth ON. As a result, experts predict that the marketing/advertising opportunity will scale at a massive level for brands all over. At the same time, the advanced features of Bluetooth 5 (i.e longer range, higher speed and increased broadcasting capacity), has dramatically increased the marketing potential held by beacons.
All these advancements on the technology front, will not only drive adoption but also, make beacons more versatile by the end of 2017.
4) Beacons will be increasingly leveraged in industrial use cases
If you are someone who has been following the latest news in the beacon industry closely, you’d agree that there is a rising demand for beacons in industrial use cases. Particularly because Bluetooth is clearly the next big thing in asset tracking, positioning, and monitoring.
One such interesting beacon use case that we have come to hear of in recent times is the one which revolves around the launch of a Moving State Management Service by Hitachi. The service is aimed at allowing construction managers and supervisors to optimally assign workers, machines and other raw materials at a construction site, streamline work schedules and bolster safety management, among other benefits.
And going by the manner in which demands for beacons in such industrial use cases has been expediting, experts predict that we will see more of this trend through 2017.
Particularly on the Supply Chain/Warehouse Management Systems/Enterprise Resource Planning vendor front. As a result, we will see a whole lot of existing platforms and providers come forward and integrate beacons and Bluetooth into their systems.
5) Rise in Acquisitions as beacon market tries to consolidate
As the proximity space heats up, more and more companies, even those from more established verticals, are looking to get their fair share of this new market. One such news that got a lot of attention of recent, was the news around The Mobile Majority’s (a rapidly expanding mobile advertising start-up) acquisition of Gimbal, a mobile customer engagement and location solutions company, and Verve’s acquisition of Fosbury and Roximity, a comprehensive, location-based advertising platform.
Marketing experts predict that we will see more of this trend in 2017, as having access to beacon-based proximity solution goes from nice-to-have to must-have for businesses all over.
If you are planning to try out beacons, take a look at Beaconstac, that includes everything you need to get started. Using Beaconstac you can set up your own campaign, without a developer’s help!