Bluetooth proximity marketing
Bluetooth proximity marketing – or Bluecasting as it has been trademarked by one agency – doesn’t get a great press. Yet it has obvious potential for the marketer.
It works like this: you walk past Starbucks with your mobile phone set to discoverable. You receive a message. Such as: ‘Starbucks wants to send you something – accept?’
You say yes and you get their message – a discount voucher, or perhaps an invite to stop for free coffee. If you say no, you don’t get their message.
The message has been sent by a server, situated somewhere within 100 metres of you. In the case of the above example, it’s probably situated in Starbucks itself.
Some say this sort of thing is as bad as email spam.
However, I don’t see it that way.
1 By being on discoverable, surely you are inviting enquiries?
Okay, so you may be wishfully expecting an enquiry from some hotbody sat across the train carriage tapping away (it happens…apparently).
But you can’t be choosy when you stick a sign on your head saying ‘Talk to me’. On discoverable you are telling others they can approach you.
Really: turn off this feature if you don’t want to be approached;
2 It’s not like email spam because it should be obvious who the sender is, and often it will be possible to contact them in person within minutes if they have sent you something that really deserves complaint.
Unfortunately, this isn’t possible with email spam – the Nigerian 419 scammers, Russian stock advisors and Viagra pushers are kind of hard to track down;
3 How different in principle is this intrusion to any other we suffer in the street: the charity chugger; the market researcher; the leafleter? We take the time to tell these people ‘not today’. Sometimes they pester us further, despite our protests.
With Bluetooth, you don’t even have to talk to the sender – just junk the message if you’re not in the mood;
4 Any Bluetooth campaign lives or dies by the quality of the message.
If Starbucks wants to give me a free coffee, I will respond positively. If, however, they are trying to tell me about some lame pastry promotion or push a cringeworthy viral clip, I will feel negative towards them. And I will refuse any future messages from them. And I will go to an AMT Coffee stand next time (the coffee is much better anyway).
I can see there is potential for abuse and irritation. But the responsibility is with the sender to use the technology tactfully.
If they are any kind of marketer worth their Saxo, the last thing they will want to do is end up angering the audience.
Let them make fools of themselves; their reputation is on the line – all we have to do is press delete.
Some of the ‘bluespamming’ debate here in the UK has referenced an activity run by Avenue Q, the West End musical.
People passing the Noel Coward Theatre received an invitation to receive content from Avenue Q. Those that accepted then received video clips from the show. The acceptance rate was 7% – or 703 people during the campaign period.
Co-incidentally, Reach Students is working with Avenue Q right now, though we have had nothing to do with the Bluetooth work delivered by Square One (we have been handling PR through student social networks; it’s the most effective and successful work we have ever done – a fantastically enjoyable campaign).
However, we are talking about Bluetooth and we are interested in Student Media UK’s offering. They work closely with students’ unions and are in a position to offer proximity marketing on campuses.
Student Media UK have a background of adding interactive technology to students’ union events. Their main interest is offering the technology for students to upload instant photos of themselves to in-bar screens and other user-generated content innovations. But they also see a role for straightforward offers, and their union clients are interested in using their system to tempt in students with promotions.
With their technology Avenue Q could deliver content, offers or freebies via Bluetooth within an exclusive environment dominated by one of its target audiences: London students.
Awareness now among London students at selected universities is very high. Most will know the show. Many will be interested to hear from Avenue Q. I would expect better response rates than the Bluecast from the Noel Coward Theatre, and I don’t think it would anger many – if any.
I really can’t see how this would be different to standing outside the union with a bundle of flyers, an activity that is commonplace and accepted.
Tell me I’m wrong!