Ask the Board – March 21, 2016 | JOSH KRUTER


How can beacon technology best be applied to create value for DOOH operators?

This is an interesting question, as there is still healthy confusion about what a beacon is vs. isn’t and what they’re used for.

At the end of the day, a beacon is simply a transmitter that sends a signal via Bluetooth to a smartphone, tablet or other connected device. If that device has an app configured to receive it, then the app triggers an action, using the software code (SDK) tied to that beacon, which is embedded in the app. This action ranges from serving a message/ad to launching a web page to sharing back anonymous data about that user (from their app registration) that can be aggregated with other users’ data for profiling and analysis.

Even Google’s “Eddystone” beacon protocol is still tied to an app since it uses the Chrome browser app, which is not the same as the default Android web browser at this time.

Note further that all this connection only happens if a user is within 50 to100 feet or so of the beacon and standing or walking. This is not a driving/roadside technology.

That in mind: IF you as a network operator have a client who has already enabled a beacon network, such as in their retail locations, then adding their beacons to your structures for their campaign is an intriguing strategy to add value to the client’s investment with you.

Why? Their app is already set up, removing (non-OOH) hurdles around app development and user adoption, and thus ready to collect data and potentially message these opted-in users leveraging technology investments they have already made/making these existing investments work harder.

Otherwise, as we discussed in our dialogue about IoT, beacon data can conceivably become a valuable set of data signals. In this case, ooh structures would become data collection points, and network operators compensated for their collection of data.

This, however, is still in its infancy and therefore still evolving — given continual evolution around privacy issues, as well questions including scale, use, value, data ownership and compensation models. That’s not to discourage experimentation — but rather to manage expectations as we are still early days!

Finally: like the old combo when home entertainment manufacturers started embedding DVD players in their TVs, definitely do your diligence before simply buying beacons embedded into your displays (vs. adding on the tiny exterior boxes or USB plugins when you wish).

Not only will you incur service on your beautiful screens if a $50 piece of kit breaks, but standards are still evolving: there are now at least four, including iBeacon and Eddystone.

If you must go the embed route, at least ensure those installed support multiple standards, are fully firmware-upgradable and are backed by a robust software platform.

About Author

Senior Vice President, Digital Product
Clear Channel

Out-of-Home Network Council

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