Location Data Insights

The Power of Beacon Networks

February 21, 2016
Romet Kallas
Account Executive

Mobile location data is the new gold to global marketers and publishers. Brands who have invested in location-based marketing and managed to connect the offline journey to online history are already able to actually personalize the customer experience.

According to Proxbook, there are currently 4 million beacons deployed globally, indicating that the proximity industry is well on track to deploy 400 million beacons by 2020. However, this is still early phase. So, while we are on the journey to "sensor up" the world, how could we already use the current amount of beacons in the most efficient and scalable way?

The answer lies in Beacon Networks!

What are Beacon networks?

A Beacon network is essentially a large number of BLE beacon hardware installations situated in multiple locations. Currently it is very common that the company deploying a beacon network, is also the only company using the network. That is a limiting approach, as there are several ways to maximize the benefit of an existing beacon infrastructure. To increase the value of a beacon network, they should be open for many different brands, retailers, apps, publishers and even other beacon companies.

Beacon networks for brands and retailers

Despite the low cost of beacon hardware, it takes time and resources to execute a proximity campaign; installing hardware, educating staff, monitoring, maintaining, etc. Not everyone can invest the resources needed, so it is possible for brands and retailers to use existing beacon networks instead. One good example is Mobiquity Networks that operates a beacon network in 475 major shopping malls in the U.S. Over 7500 unique retailers leverage that network, without having the need to deploy their own hardware. So to get started with location-based marketing, one does not necessarily have to deploy beacons themselves.

Beacon networks for 3rd party apps

What does it mean to leverage a 3rd party app? One good example is Shopkick - the customer loyalty app with 19 million users and it's own beacon network. Instead of having to deploy beacons and having to develop an app, a brand can partner with a 3rd party app like Shopkick. In other words, no cost for beacon hardware and no cost for developing an app. But when one already owns a beacon network and an app, 3rd party apps can still be leveraged to expand the reach. As an example, inMarket reaches over 42 million users monthly with their beacon platform by partnering with apps like Scanlife, Coupon Sherpa, Epicurious, List Ease and many more.

Beacon networks for beacon companies

It is impossible for one proximity solution provider to deploy sensors all over the world. Yet it would be beneficial for beacon companies to share and compare location data with each other. This will result in richer and more accurate data because the bigger the volume, the more accurate are the results. For example, if PSPs have similar projects in their portfolios, they could compare engagement, conversion rates, attribution, dwell times, etc.

Another scenario, let's say Coca-Cola wants to run a proximity marketing campaign in all of the countries in Europe. It is probably not feasible for one company, to build and maintain such a network; they would need partners to deliver the scale needed.

How can beacon networks join forces in a scalable manner?

All of the scenarios mentioned above are important to maximize the value of beacon networks. But is it scalable for a Proximity Solution Provider to start integrating with other beacon companies' networks one by one? We think not, and that is one of the reasons we have created Unacast PROX. Unacast PROX members are part of a future proof solution to harness the total power of proximity, so that  the proximity company, publisher, brand and retailer, can join forces with beacon networks globally through one integration, instead of having to integrate with tens or hundreds of networks separately. Unacast does not compete with beacon companies. We provide an opportunity to increase the value of existing and future beacon deployments, help to monetize location data in online advertising and help to make better use of location data.

Unacast does not compete with beacon companies. We provide an opportunity to increase the value of existing and future beacon deployments, help to monetize location data in online advertising and help to make better use of location data.

To conclude

Location data is one of the most valuable sources of insight to enhance customer engagement and accurate targeting. To achieve scale and maximize the value from the currently young sensor industry, publishers, brands, retailers and beacon companies will have to collaborate. After all, "Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together." (James Cash Penney)