From Start To Finish, This Is How Beacons Track Your Phone While You're Shopping

Beacon from InMarketInMarketThese little things are cropping up everywhere, to send ads to your smartphone.

Much has been written about the rise and rise of beacons, the tiny little devices placed inside stores and even phone boxes that transmit Bluetooth Low Energy signals in order to send ad messages to consumers’ mobile phones.

But to anyone who suddenly sees a message from a brand pop-up when they are looking at their mobiles inside that same brand’s store, it can be confusing as to how the store knows you’re in there.

We asked inMarket, a mobile marketing agency, exactly how much planning goes into a beacon campaign and how the technology works. They gave us a step-by-step insight into a holiday beacon campaign currently running for the agency’s client Sun Pacific.

As with any ad campaign it starts with the brief. Sun Pacific wanted to encourage mums to add Cuties Clementines to her grocery list as well as prompt her to try Mighties Kiwi, a newly branded fruit. The agency concocts the exact target customer and calls her 'Jennifer.'

The agency and Sun Pacific decide beacons will be the best way to reach Jennifer as she's often out shopping with her mobile to hand. A beacon is a small wireless device that constantly broadcasts radio signals to nearby smartphones and tablets. Think of it as a lighthouse emitting light in regular intervals.

Your smartphone then sends the beacon's ID number to a cloud server, which checks whether a particular ad campaign is assigned to you based on the demographic data (in this case) InMarket assumes about you, based on your mobile browsing habits and other data sources.

Back to Jennifer. She walks into a store with beacons installed. If she has one of the apps on inMarket's platform (Like Epicurious, Key Ring, CheckPoints, List Ease, Zip List and a few others) she first receives a pop-up greeting. The brand only pays out if the shopper swipes the greeting in-store.

When the shopper swipes the notification to check their list or see some deals, they will be served with the full-page Cuties ad.

The result? Hopefully Jennifer adds Cuties Clementines to her basket for her kids to munch on.

Not seen beacons before? The market is set to be huge.

Here's BI Intelligence's full beacon FAQ if you want to know more.

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