Bus Beacons in Proximity Advertising

In the fast evolving world of DOOH (digital out of home) advertising, UK based Exterion Media announced a unique six month beta project in proximity advertising that targets a Norwich, UK bus line. It’s all about data collection and learning how and when to use proximity advertising to “enrich a customers shopping experience”, according to CCO of Proxama PLC, Miles Quitmann, whose London, UK-based company is developing “new mobile proximity technologies”, as he calls it.

To empower the proximity advertising pilot program, the group developed multiple partnerships that complete the jigsaw puzzle of networks and deliverables needed to bring the project to life. This included the Business Improvement District of Norwich (BID), UK’s Association of Town & City Management (ATCM) plus the Connected High Street Project (an ongoing Beacon Technology initiative) to expand the NFC (near field communication) based technology. In addition, on the business side Exterion Media created a collaboration with Quitmann’s Proxama PLC (mobile proximity NFC payments) and FirstGroup (transport company).

An Android or iPhone App from Proxama called “Loka” is central to the program, and that can be downloaded to a user’s smartphone. The program uses Beacon technology, that delivers location based messages on smartphone devices. Essentially, mobile-based ads made for a traveller’s smartphone are activated while on the Norwich bus as it passes venues real-time.

The Beacon-driven app technology cues dynamic messages, such as ads, coupons, badges and other “push-based” content that is completely location-based. That is, proximity advertising appears when close to a specific location (like a bus stop) or as the Norwich bus passes a nearby advertiser. This proximity advertising as it is called, is powered by beacon technology based on Bluetooth Low Energy.

Quitmann said the proximity advertising pilot program creates a network for local brands and gives these retailers a totally new channel to communicate to highly mobile customers. Those shoppers with the app, have the opportunity of discovery (new offers) and purchase, including new or special products or other incentives, like traditional rewards/coupons, discounts and loyalty services delivered right to the mobile device, and (perhaps most importantly) in real time in direct proximity to the venue.

Other transit-based mobile technology initiatives include the design consultancy Control Group, a NY based company working with the NYC subway system that started with its MTA on the Go (a way-finding digital kiosk) and has been expanded to a 92 kiosk system (located in 12 stations) that also run ads from during the holiday shopping season. It’s a “…type of pop-up store with huge reach”, according to associate partner, Damian Gutierrez, with Control Group.

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Some analysts see the future of DOOH (digital out of home) ads as being directly linked to proximity advertising on the small screen, and now beacon technology is at the nexus of just such an advent. With powerhouse Android and now Apple mobile devices both touting new NFC chips and Beacon wireless interface, we see this as a potential break out period for the DOOH advertising space. But not just playing out on pixels of large screen DOOH displays. They are targeting the many more millions of those tiny displays held in the palm of the hand, as advertisers learn to follow the pixels and that means mobile (of all sizes) perhaps for years to come. – Steve Sechrist