Despite the emergence of beacons two years ago, the Bluetooth devices only seemed to come into their own in 2015. And notwithstanding adoption by the likes of Macy’s, Lord & Taylor, and Target, the proximity tools have yet to penetrate mainstream retailing.
Marketers and brands still have hurdles to overcome in terms of consumer acceptance — 70 percent of shoppers aren’t even aware beacons exist, according to one study from this past fall. However, that doesn’t mean indoor marketing specialists lack impressive numbers for engagement and store visitation, particularly when combined with more commonplace techniques such as geofencing and targeted mobile ads to spur app users to opt in to receive retailers’ messages.
If retailers can show that the cases below can drive connected consumers to cash registers, these examples of 2015’s best location ad efforts may seem mundane by this time next year.
Dr Pepper’s Geo-Based Thirst Quench: The soft drink brand worked with programmatic platform Rocket Fuel and in-store attribution specialist Placed to serve location-targeted mobile ads to more than 1,000 grocers — and prove that those placements led to physical purchases. Placed’s data indicated the ads helped drive 213,000 in-store visits. The ad-tech provider said the campaign ultimately put Dr Pepper products in 25,000 new households.
Monterey Bay Aquarium Navigates “The Deep Indoors” with iOS App: With more than 35,000 animals and plants on display and over two million visitors annually, the Silicon Valley-area marine life center turned to Apple to map its 200 galleries so they could be accessed using Wi-Fi signals via a branded app.
“We have a longstanding relationship with Apple, dating back to the launch of our Seafood Watch app in 2009,” said Humberto Kam, director of online engagement and marketing for Monterey Bay Aquarium, referring to a separate guide that it previously developed for buying sustainable seafood in listed restaurants and markets. The app got the aquarium on Apple’s radar. “When we started discussions about adding indoor positioning to the existing Aquarium app late last year, Apple very generously offered to help us create the best possible user experience.” The aquarium is considering adding iBeacon connections to provide a clearer guide for special exhibits.
Opt-Intelligence Draws a Full Circle Around Email Marketing and Location Ads: Traditions 118, a family-owned restaurant in Granite Springs, N.Y., sought to generate 100 new subscribers per month for the establishment’s newsletter. To solve the restaurant’s challenges in attracting new customers, lead-gen provider Opt-Intelligence created geo-targeted ad units that invited users to sign up and receive email messages. The campaign resulted in meeting the restaurant’s goal of gaining 100 new subscribers in one month, and 18 percent of those local subscribers redeemed the first coupon sent by the Opt-Intelligence ads.
Craig Anderson, Opt-Intelligence’s president and chief operating office, believes that the high success rate speaks to the importance of using geo-targeting to deliver not just a hoard of new email subscribers, but also the right subscribers. “Without geo-targeting, we couldn’t serve a large portion of the small business world we’re working with today,” he said. “When we work with companies like Traditions 118, where it’s a single location, sole proprietorship, they just want to target the radius around their zip code, because those are the people who are going to come in. Using geo helps to make the signup invitation so much more relevant to the consumer.”
Memorial Healthcare System’s Pandora Ads Delivered 500 Percent Increase in Mobile Traffic: Memorial Healthcare System (MHS) has been providing healthcare services to South Florida residents since 1953. Today, it’s the third-largest public healthcare system in the nation. But when it came to promoting its new cardiac risk assessment, MHS wanted to target new patients to get more leads, not just existing ones. MHS tapped Pandora to run an ad campaign that would target on-the-go people only in the South Florida geographic area, and specifically those who were 40 and older.
Pandora used three solutions: Audio Everywhere, to serve cross-platform ads on web, mobile and tablet; Display Everywhere, to show ads to users based on interactions; and geo- and demographic targeting, to hit the right potential patients with as little waste as possible. The campaign resulted in 37,000 clicks among MHS’ target demographic and a 500 percent increase in mobile site traffic — and brought in more than a few new patients, too.
Thinknear and Whole Foods Geo-Conquest Rival Grocers: The gourmet uber-market used location data to improve post-click conversion rates for its mobile ads, while edging out local competitors. It tapped Thinknear to place geofences around a number of Whole Foods locations and targeted ads toward users who passed through these areas. Thinknear also employed geo-conquesting tools to aim ads at smartphones near competing grocers. Both timing and location were factors, as ads were served on weekends, when most customers do their food shopping for the week. By the end of the campaign, Whole Foods had a 4.69 percent post-click conversion rate — more than three times the national average of 1.43 percent.
Charlotte Russe Shoppers Overwhelmingly Opt In to GPShopper’s Push Notifications: In April, San Diego-based young women’s casual clothing chain Charlotte Russe partnered with proximity retail platform GPShopper on building out its online-to-offline strategy around the idea of the retailer’s regular “Appy Hour” promotions. The “Appy Hour” offers discounts on purchases made in Charlotte Russe’s mobile app or in stores, and a key part of its plan rested on the use of push notifications designed to drive sales and store visits.
On the specific date the study looked at, April 16, sales were 42 percent higher on average when compared to the previous 20-day period. Meanwhile, unique visitors to the app grew 61 percent over the previous month. In the end, in-store sales dollars wound up being 3.7 times greater than in-app sales figures. Over 500,000 users downloaded the app between its initial launch and July 2015.
xAd and Oxfam Use Location Data to Help Raise Money for Poverty-Stricken Communities: Although we tend to think of geo-targeted mobile ads as being used in the context of retail marketing, location ad platform xAd used its targeting tools on behalf of Oxfam America, an affiliate of Oxfam International, to fight poverty in the United States by sending place-based ads to consumers who appeared positioned to donate to a worthy cause. xAd used insights on mobile consumer behavior from its platform of nearly one million advertisers to target people around three primary locations: 1) Oxfam America’s out-of-home media placements at PATH Stations, bus shelters and airports; 2) at grocery stores that carried magazines with relevant print ads; and 3) malls and shopping centers where audiences are in the gift-giving state of mind.
It was Oxfam’s first holiday campaign to use mobile location in a nationally-integrated marketing push that included outdoor, print, and online ads as well as a social media. This year’s metrics have yet to be calculated as the campaign is still live. Last year’s “Unwrapped” campaign brought in 7,000 new donors and raised $1.4 million.
inMarket, Wells Fargo Bring out Beacons in Support of Zac Brown Band’s Veterans’ Benefit at Wrigley: In another example of trying to “do well by doing good,” beacon platform inMarket expanded the use of its proximity marketing tools from retail to charity for a 9/11 concert at Wrigley Field by the Zac Brown Band, which was sponsored by Wells Fargo. Proceeds from the concert, held on one of the most solemn days on the American calendar, went to Warriors to Summits, part of No Barriers USA, a nonprofit that helps veterans and transitioning service members with disabilities and their families.
“You can do a lot more with one beacon and a reach of 36 million than you can with a million beacons and a small audience,” said Dave Heinzinger, inMarket’s senior director for communication. “The beacon is just the facilitator. It’s about being able to engage people where they are with a beacon. As an analogy, if you build houses, you use a hammer. But the point is to build the actual house, not just have a hammer.”
Coca-Cola and Unacast Use Beacons to Retarget Moviegoers Before and After the Credits Roll: This indoor marketing campaign was pretty atypical for beacons in 2015, but it’s likely to become the dominant use case in 2016 and beyond. Proximity retargeting platform Unacast demonstrated how physical businesses can use location-based advertising beyond direct response-oriented push notifications. The campaign involved Norwegian media conglomerate Schibsted and Nordic cinema chain operator CAPA with the purpose of promoting Coca-Cola products at concession stands and then in the days after smartphone-toting consumers left the theater. To get users to turn on their smartphone’s Bluetooth receiver, which is the main way to accept a message via beacons, readers who had an app from VG, a major Norwegian newspaper owned by Schibsted, were given a prompt and asked if they were interested in a free Coke before the movie started.
About 60 percent of customers clicked through that offer, a number that Unacast dubs “extraordinary” considering that VG normally achieves average click through rates of 0.18 percent on mobile ad campaigns. Of those that clicked the ad, 50 percent went back to the cinema and redeemed the offer of a free ticket.
Elle Magazine’s Location Celebration: Shop Now! Beacon Effort Drove Half-Million In-Store Visits: While most retailers are still discovering the use of beacons, even fewer media outlets appear to be aware of how the Bluetooth Low Energy devices can be part of their integrated marketing mix. Hearst Magazine’s Elle became something of a pioneer by partnering with beacon marketing provider Swirl Networks, along with coupon marketplace RetailMeNot and curated deals company ShopAdvisor (proximity specialist Gimbal will be handing the geo-fencing aspects of the program), for its Shop Now! ad program. The concept was tied to the release of Elle‘s 30th birthday issue at the end of August. It so happened that the September issue coincided with the print ad blitz heralding fall fashions. As Elle readers selected their favorite brands within the apps or online, they were provided with exclusive content and offers using location-based mobile technology — specifically, beacons and geo-fences.
Over the course of September and October, the Shop Now! program delivered 500,000 in-store visits and a more than 12 percent content engagement rate for participating retailers Barnes & Noble, Levi’s, Guess, and Vince Camuto across the country. Over 700 physical stores took part in the promotion. “The in-market success of our Shop Now! program exceeded our expectations, and also achieved one of our major goals — to activate an initiative that would be a retail traffic-driver for our brand partners,” said Elle publisher Kevin O’Malley, in a statement.
David Kaplan is managing editor of GeoMarketing.