Beacons: the new push mobile marketing

Australian outdoor advertising company Adshel announced earlier this year that it will be introducing Australia’s largest permanent network of beacons. If you are wondering what a beacon is there is a great explanation here, but basically it is a way to push content out to mobile phones through Bluetooth connections. In order for consumers to receive these notifications, often they will need to install an app that allows their phone to intercept and interpret the push notifications. The B&T article suggests that there is enough research to show that Australians mostly have their mobile Bluetooth turned on, and that most of the reason is because people connect their phone to their car while driving.

Beacon advertising. Source:

Beacon advertising. Source:

The reading “if you love something, let it go mobile: mobile marketing and mobile social media 4X4” by Kaplan looks at the push and pull side of marketing in relation to the degree of knowledge a consumer has about a product. I’m not sure if Beacons fit into the matrix provided by Kaplan. These Bluetooth Beacon messages that are being implemented are considered push communication, as companies are pushing the content out. However, unlike text messages and advertising at the start of a YouTube video, if someone has their Bluetooth turned off they are not receiving the message. So is this still push advertising or because a customer has to essentially opt in to Bluetooth is that actually making it a pull communication? Maybe it is a mixture of both?

The other aspect of the matrix is looking at if there is a high or low degree of knowledge about the brand. This is more complicated because it depends on the person and the situation. The same message could go to two different people and one might have a high level knowledge about the brand when the other does not. In this case, can you personalise a message when you don’t know how much a consumer knows?

Another aspect to think about in Beacon technology is much in the way that people install Ad blockers and illegally download video content; if we are constantly being sent advertising to our phones, will we start to turn off our mobile Bluetooth?

Has anyone had any experience yet with Bluetooth advertising and what were your thoughts?

12 thoughts on “Beacons: the new push mobile marketing

  1. Nathan Meldrum

    Hey Blaire,

    Interesting post! I gotta put my hand up and say that I’d never heard of beacon technology until i read the article you linked to your post.
    It’s another great (consumers may say “not so great”) technology-enabled marketing tool that’s been devised to bombard the unsuspecting consumer with advertising. Concept is good, one-to-one targeted marketing. But I’m thinking (as a consumer here, not a marketer!), when will this marketing assault ever end? I’d say this is definitely push marketing. I understand that you need to have push notifications enabled on the app etc, but they usually make it as difficult as possible to disable them and most of the time I don’t bother. If I started getting random messages hitting me through my bluetooth on a regular basis, I think I’d find that really annoying. I’m not asking to have a message sent to me just because my bluetooth is enabled. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out. Good job!


  2. Wei Xu

    Hi Blaire,

    I appreciate your post helps me to have a new idea about mobile marketing. The idea of Beacon is interesting. This is a good example for mobile marketing to spread ads from bluetooth. Frankly, I haven’t received any service from Beacon before. However through the online research about Beacon, I found it does not send ads randomly, it instead targets potential customer according to detailed analysis of demographic data from the phone. ( As a marketer, the new method is amazing to efficiently reach potential customer. But as a consumer, I may worried about my privacy.

  3. Kristina

    Hi Blaire!

    Great read – thanks for the post! I have to admit I’m one of those people that constantly has their Bluetooth on (as a result of my car), funny enough have never actually fallen victim of some beacon tailored advertising.

    I would agree upon the point that Beacon/Bluetooth methods of marketing is a push technique and is quite situational depending on the affiliation between the consumer and the brand.

    My question is, is it really a great mobile marketing tool? In my opinion, probably not. I’d say that many people that have a low affiliation with the brand may be more inclined to ignore the message and move on. The article identifies our mobile devices as personal devices for our own private use. With this point we could raise questions of privacy, no one want’s to be bombarded with a zillion Bluetooth notifications as soon as they walk into a shopping center or within a similar context. As a victim or stranger within Kaplan’s 4×4 matrix, you would eventually be annoyed by the mobile marketing communication constantly hijacking your phone.

    1. Blaire

      Hey Kristina,
      I totally agree with you, people would get super annoyed if they were being bombarded all the time with advertising. When we’re in a shopping centre all we need to do is look around if we want to see advertising, people probably won’t want it going to their private devices as well.
      However saying that, I think people with strong brand connections and that are happy to receive discounts might actually be ok with it. But really its a matter of figuring out who these people are without annoying everyone else at the same time. I think it’s going to be an interesting one to watch!
      Thanks for your comment.

  4. Jie LI

    Hi Blair,

    I like your idea about mobile marketing and thanks for your thought-provoking piece:)

    Personally, I’m exactly the person who turn my bluetooth on only because I need the connection with my car while I’m driving. Other than that, I try to remember to turn it off because I don’t want to take the risk of being attacked through mobile or being found by someone who is looking for internet connection. So beacon really doesn’t work well for people like me XD.

    However, I actually browsing and shopping on my mobile phone quit often, believing it is convenient and fast enough to put in orders and check-out immediately. For example, Taobao- being as the biggest e-commerse in China (similar to eBay and Amazon), there is one biggest sale in Nov every year(similar to Black Fri in US?). Figure has indicated that in 2014, a total of 350.19 billion yuan sales revenue has been made on the day and 53.5 billion yuan are purchased through mobile device. There are more than 1 billion sales has been made within the first 55 sec and I would be surprised that most of orders are coming form mobile transaction. it’s so easy to do it by just hitting a click using mobile.

    Therefore, I believe mobile marketing has an ongoing demand and will increase dramatically in next few years. Let see what would be happen and have fun with it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *