We introduced you to the iBeacon technology back in 2013, and since the initial shock waves hit everyone’s systems, we haven’t checked back in with you a ton. Lately though, this Beacon technology is making a huge impression. In recent headlines, Apple’s iBeacon is the set standard of this technology, Google has swooped in with Beacon technology of their own, a whole town in Georgia was taken over by Beacons, and Facebook is offering free Bluetooth Beacons for business owners. Where do we begin?
Let’s start with Facebook and save Google for next time. Facebook is taking a huge dive into the Beacon technology with their offer of free Beacons to participating businesses and it’s all about intention data. How will it work and what’s in it for Facebook? Well, they are building Place Tips into their mobile app. The point is to help consumers learn about the places they visit. The app uses location-based technology (Bluetooth and Beacons) to track user’s locations.
If there are participating businesses in the area, you are prompted to visit a Facebook page and like the business’ page, you are given check in reminders, and they offer information and tips from your friends about the business you’re visiting. The businesses, in turn, can set up welcome messages for consumers.
After seeing the NYC program prove a success, Facebook is offering top traffic business Pages across the U.S. a chance to participate, although quantities of the free beacons will be limited. When an administrator or user affiliated with a top traffic page logs on the site, they’ll receive a post frozen atop their news feed encouraging them to enter their shipping info to get one of the beacons.
This is a whole new marketing window for Facebook. By putting more Beacons into stores, and having that data accessible to them through the Facebook app, Facebook will now have more data than ever before on what it is that people are shopping for and where they are shopping. This could be a great tool for advertisers on Facebook. Look at it this way, the Beacons allow Facebook to see whether or not consumers actually showed up in the store to buy the product that was advertised in their newsfeed.
If this becomes a widespread practice, and tons of businesses take Facebook up on their offer for free hardware, this could mean a huge influx of data on consumers –tracking their habits in whole new ways. I suppose it does sound a little ‘big brother’ like as well. Here’s what Facebook had to say:
Using Bluetooth technology, these beacons send a one-way signal to the Facebook app on your customers’ phones to help us show them the right information about your business during their visit. They don’t collect any information from people or their phones or change the kind of location information Facebook receives.
So, what are your thoughts? iBeacon technology via Facebook, friend or foe? I will be interested to see which big businesses pick up the offer for the free hardware and what the user response is over the next few months. Do you think that having this technology linked to Facebook will be an advantage to users or an annoyance clogging up newsfeeds? Also, from a marketer’s perspective, where do you think this is going? Comment below!