UPDATE: Nearby Notifications will no longer be supported on Android smartphones after December 6 2018. Please read this blog post to understand how you can continue running proximity marketing campaigns through beacons.
Google Nearby notifies you of things that can be helpful near you by surfacing location-specific notifications for apps and websites, with no prior app installed. Nearby has been growing in popularity for the last few months. In this blog, we will discuss answers to questions we frequently receive from our customers about Google Nearby. Let’s get started.
1. What is Google Nearby? How does it work?
Google Nearby allows users to discover nearby devices or contextual information without an app. There are three types of these interactions: nearby messages, communication, and notifications.
Nearby Message service helps discover and exchange information with other devices, without having to be on the same local network.
Communications is about bringing nearby users together digitally. This could be for data transfers, multi-screen gaming, or other kinds of sharing.
Google Nearby Notifications send location-specific notifications to users, no app install required. These come in the form of secure URLs.
How does Google Nearby work?
Google Play service continuously scans for beacon devices in the background. Once it detects a beacon in the range, it sends queries to the Google Nearby database to check if the beacons have any attachments. If a beacon has any Google Nearby notification attached to it, it displays it to on the mobile device.
How does Google Nearby scanning work?
Google Nearby scans for notifications when you press the lock screen button (display wake up) or when the phone is unlocked.
2. What all can you do using Google Nearby?
As the beacon space matures, the use-cases also increase exponentially. Most of these use-cases make use of Eddystone protocol to reach out to customers without the need of an app. Google Nearby scans for Eddystone URLs display on the smartphone. Google recommends a list of things that you can do with Nearby.
Drive your own app installs.
Open personal or business profiles in social apps.
Launch conversations or chat bots inside messaging apps.
Drive consumers to content about nearby products.
Help users explore store-inventory.
Drive check-ins, reviews within local/travel apps.
These capabilities are continue to make beacon campaigns highly interactive and engaging.
3. How to use/set-up Google Nearby?
If you are a business owner or a marketer for an offline business, there are two ways of leveraging the power of Google Nearby –
You can simply use Beaconstac or a similar service. Once you receive your beacon hardware order, you can instantly start engaging with customers using Google Nearby notifications. This option is great not only because it is simple but also because you can set-up proximity marketing campaigns all by yourself – no need for a developer or an app provider. Plus, you get all the proximity data you require to iterate on your campaigns.
The second way to leverage Google Nearby is a little more complex and time-consuming. To integrate the Google Nearby API into your app, you need to have the bandwidth to build an app or a complete platform from the scratch. This platform should include a content management system, analytics and also other basic features for a marketing campaign.
4. How do Google Nearby notifications impact businesses?
The benefit of running a proximity marketing campaign with Google Nearby is that businesses do not need an app to communicate with their users. In the last few months, offline businesses have utilized Nearby in exciting and compelling ways –
Advertising an URL
Triggering an app intent with web URL fallback
Triggering an app intent with install fallback
Google Nearby has been a dominant push to SMBs that are held back from investing in beacons due to the need for an app.
5. How can the end user turn on and turn off Google Nearby notifications?
Your users should have their Bluetooth and location switched on. Most of the latest smartphones have Nearby automatically turned on as a result of turning Bluetooth on. However for the older devices, Google Nearby has to be enabled for the first time. To allow Nearby on mobile devices, they need to follow these steps –
1. Go to Google settings, and under the services section they will see ‘Nearby’ and ‘Nearby discoveries’.
2. Make sure that Nearby is turned “on”.
Once the Nearby is turned on, they will start scanning for devices around them. Once the mobile device is in the range of a beacon, it displays the scan results.
6. What’s the customer experience of Google Nearby notification campaigns?
Your users get a notification on their mobile device. By clicking on the notification, they are directed to a markdown card, or a linked custom URL or a form. We have created an Android mobile prototype for you to visualise the experience.
Try out the Google Nearby prototype – Customer experience
7. Google Nearby vs Physical Web: Which is superior and why?
Google Nearby is much more powerful compared to the Physical Web. And here few of the reasons –
Google Nearby adds an app intent to the campaign, which means users can click notifications and open an app up directly
Google Nearby has introduced targeting rules, which allows marketers to design targeted marketing campaigns such as – “Send notifications on weekdays from 9am – 5pm”
Google Nearby allows multiple notifications from a single beacon
Apps that use the Google Nearby API send telemetry information to the Google beacon platform where you can monitor the health of your beacons. This report contains the battery level, count of frames that the beacon has transmitted, length of time the beacon has been active, beacon temperature and much more.
8. Can I combine the experience of an app with the power of Google Nearby?
Yes, you can. Beaconstac has built an app – Nearbee. This app scans for Google Nearby notifications and displays it on the iOS device. Here’s how it is superior to any other third party app –
Add an app intent to the campaign
It allows notifications to be sent at a specific time of the day, or days of a week
The app is designed to run and scan quietly in the background. This means users get the notification even when the device is locked
With the app, you can send telemetry information to the Google beacon platform where you can monitor the health of beacons
Send multiple notifications from a single beacon
9. FAQs related to Google Nearby
1. Are the edits to the Google Nearby campaign updated real-time?
Absolutely! With Google’s new updates to Nearby, the campaign notification updates in real-time. It does not update itself if someone is already viewing the markdown card.
However, it updates for someone who has just walked into the beacon range.
2. Where and when does the scanning happen, if not in my app?
Scanning is done in Google Play services build into the Android OS. You can have your own app to do that as well but not very useful.
3. Does Google Nearby work only on Android devices?
Yes, for now, it only works on Android. Google Nearby service is supported on all Android 4.4 (KitKat) and newer. However, Google Nearby does support iBeacons.
4. Can I schedule my Google Nearby notifications for a custom time?
Yes. With Beaconstac, you can schedule your proximity campaigns for a specific day of the week and at a particular time. A coffee shop owner might want to send two different campaigns for weekdays and weekends. Here’s how you can Schedule a campaign.
10. Latest news in Google Nearby space
1. 30th May 2018: BMTC buses in Bangalore to deploy beacons for easy ticketing
Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation(BMTC) is working towards digitizing the entire ticketing experience using beacons. A pilot project was introduced on May 31st 2018. Beacons are deployed on buses and bus shelters. These beacons will automatically send URL notifications to smartphones with Google Nearby.
2. 2nd July 2018: Google is all set to get proximity based Nearby API to Chromebooks
Google released v2.0 of the “Nearby Connections” API last year. As a part of this version, Google allowed gadgets like digital signage to communicate with smart devices in the proximity. According to some the commits on XDA Developers, Google might be coming up with Nearby API integrations with Chromebooks. If this goes live Android phones and Chromebooks will be able to receive relevant beacon Nearby notifications. Stay tuned for more updates on this.
3. 25 October 2018: Google announced that it is shutting down Nearby on Dec 6 2018
Google announced that Nearby service would no longer work on Android phones post Dec 6 2018. The reason cited for their discontinuation is the overwhelming spam that resulted in a poor user experience. Fortunately, we already have a solution in place. Read our blog ‘Google killed Nearby Notifications. What’s next for beacons?’
Watch our webinar on ‘How to run proximity marketing campaigns in 2019 with beacons’
If you are looking to get started on a short pilot, head to our Beaconstac store page and invest in a set of beacons and our Basic subscription plan. You can have the campaigns up and running in less than 15 mins!