Beacons: Better than display advertising?

Beacons: Better than display advertising? In his role as CEO, John is leading the development of business opportunities across the UK and North America and is responsible for guiding the business through its consolidation and growth across the proximity commerce industry. During his 20 years at Global Insurance Company Aviva, John gained significant operational experience and led a number of cost management programmes. He was also responsible for a number of mergers and acquisitions during his time here, including transactions with RAC, CGNU, and London and Edinburgh.


Consume or be consumed; such is the reality of being an impressionable human living in a digital age. For such is the strength of social, print and mobile advertising, where we reject some brands’ marketing efforts, we often endorse others.

Even if psychologists say we are susceptible to certain deals, familiar brands and celebrity-endorsed promotions within the advertising landscape. 

The noise is steadily becoming too loud, and consumers are tuning out and turning off. More and more of us are rejecting mass market advertising – that is those utilising display or programmatic advertising. But as we slip further into lives dictated by GIFs, Instagram and Snapchat Stories.

Consumers are becoming tired of being analysed by demographic and statistics, and ad acceptance is in decline. So how can brands effectively reach their advertising and marketing objectives when there is so much dislike for traditional display advertising?

Guesswork dressed up as science

Brands gamble on display advertising by adopting an assumptive approach which favours breadth of reach. But such is the nature of static advertising, that quantity (more pairs of eyes) assumes dominance over quality (or an engaged, receptive pair of eyes).

Display advertisers can argue that by analysing local demographic data, you can somewhat inform your campaign to suit the generic locale, digitally-savvy millennials just do not easily fit into these pre-structured archetypes.

Millennials are a marketer’s dream, but, because they are discerning it means brands have to work harder to ensure ads are differentiated and targeted to the right individual.

Display advertising has become guesswork dressed up as science in the hopes that sheer volume will make up for a lack of relevance and context. It’s the principle of ‘throw enough paint at the wall and see what sticks’.

This approach to audience engagement disparity is exacerbated by recent figures showing that mobile advertising overtook TV and desktop advertising spend this year for the first time, accounting for a sizeable 27% of total UK media ad spend.

And with huge mobile network operators such as Three UK making public declarations of their commitment to tackling ‘irrelevant and excessive mobile ads that annoy customers’, the business case for tailored, quality person-based advertising has never been more important.

Bring on the beacons

Relevance always plays a key role in any consumer conversion rates. Take for example a traditional bus shelter ad displayed outside a McDonald’s restaurant that has a promotion on for Subway sandwiches.

Consultants would argue that this is clever competitor marketing tactics – trying to persuade a commuter to eat at a Subway as opposed to a McDonald’s – but the modern consumer is simply too busy to afford choice and will likely ‘ignore’ the advert as their decision on where to eat has already been made.

As more ad spend heads into a ‘mobile first’ universe, understanding the consumer context will make the difference between conversion and complaint

However, imagine if that very same consumer received a mobile push notification, tailored to promote deals on at that very McDonald’s restaurant while they travelled into work that day. The chances of that consumer becoming a McDonald’s customer within that instant goes up dramatically.

Beacon technology unifies data and brands across agnostic platforms to deliver advertising credentials and messaging that are directly contextually and geographically relevant to an individual.

Not only does this support consumer confidence in brands, it also combats the growing threat of ad blocking.As we’ve seen with Three UK’s position of defaulting to a mobile ad blocker technology across all of its handsets, consumers are increasingly subjected to a constant bombardment of irrelevant, imposing adverts that at times they have no option other than to endure.

Proximity marketing can bring back the value in consumer marketing and play on the individual wants, desires, needs and aspirations of the specific consumer, rather than collectively assuming and categorisation which can result in brand distaste and consumer’s ‘switching off’.

Pushing the notification boundary

Beacon-enabled proximity marketing allows brands to not only hone in on their target audience at a singular level, but also during periods of high dwell; when they are most likely to be receptive to advertisements.

This means planners, for example, can target high-value consumers who they know are likely to engage and subsequently follow through with the desired marketing call to action (CTA).

As more ad spend heads into a ‘mobile first’ universe, understanding the consumer context will make the difference between conversion and complaint; where the line between senseless and carefully crafted advertising is pulled taut.

And it’s worth keeping the following in mind:

  • Mobile display advertising is predicted to reach as high as 70% of all mobile ad spend by 2019
  • The time to engage with mobile is now – but – does your creative match up to the overall experience of the marketing segments you wish to target?
  • Consider beacon tech and proximity marketing solutions as a way around the problem of ad blockers
  • Ensure a notable CTA is in place every single time you start a new campaign

With these considerations in place you can begin down a path to creatively fulfilling your marketing metrics and start to see those views convert into leads, and eventual sales.

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