A new digital arms race has emerged from Facebook, Google and Twitter to take advantage of bringing digital experiences to consumers mobile devices the world over. In an ironic twist this new battleground isn’t on the web, it’s in the physical world, well sort of.
This week Facebook announced it will be giving away free Facebook Beacons to small businesses in the US so they can begin leveraging Place Tips from Facebook to serve location rich content to people’s smartphones when they are “near” these Facebook Beacon enabled businesses.
Twitter recently invested an undisclosed sum in Beacon platform, Swirl who looks to enable various retail stores with their Beacons so they can serve up hyper context rich content to shopper’s smartphones who are inside or near these stores.
Google is working on their physical web project that looks to hand out Beacons to various developers and businesses that bring connectivity to environments so they can push content to consumer’s smartphones when they are in specific locations or context. Google also announced last week at Google I/O, Project Jacquard which aims to bring connectivity to materials and fabrics so clothing can become “smart”.
This new battleground isn’t restricted by the boundaries of the web, it’s the physical world that we as humans live in and the vision of weaving seamless digital experiences into our surroundings in a way that is natural and intuitive, with the mobile device acting as the conduit between these two worlds.
This sudden transition of physical to web experiences compliments existing media technology business models and facilitates new layers of engagement with people as well as valuable data streams about consumer’s physical behavior that can add further value to their core ad products.
Let’s use Facebook as an example. Facebook are giving away Beacons to businesses for free in the hope that they can quickly build out a large physical footprint of Beacon enabled businesses. This allows Facebook to analyse physical consumer behavior on a completely new level that previously didn’t exist. Think of it like a physical network of “things” (stores) that are suddenly online.
Facebook will know what coffee shop you are visiting, how often you are visiting, what you are doing within that session on Facebook and then use this data to funnel into its various ad products. This creates more hyper targeting capabilities for brands and in turn commands higher prices for their ad products. This type of Beacon approach exists today but the critical thing for Facebook vs. others in the space is Facebook has 1B people using their app so the issue of requiring people to download an app to interface with Beacons goes away when it’s Facebook vs. a brand. The downside for brands is they will only be allowed to operate within the walls of Facebook (that’s why the Beacons are free).
Tapit see the battleground extending far beyond Beacons in the physical world – we’re thinking of it more as the first act. The second and we believe larger act will be where brands look to make all their products, packaging, retail marketing and other billions of “things” connected and intelligent to the cloud via a platform like Tapit.
Imagine a brand that has enabled their millions of product packaging with Tapit and people are tapping on these packages creating a huge stream of new data for marketers to understand how people are interacting with their brand In a physical context?! Where are they interacting, what are they interacting with, how many times did they interact, what device did they interact with, etc.
We’re fairly certain Facebook, Google and Twitter among others are going to find that immensely powerful to leverage and add further value to their physical world ambitions.
The first act is coming to a close; the second act is coming……get ready.