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Article: Bluetooth Marketing for Digital Networks

 By H. Jay Patel, BlueFire Digital September 29, 2008

Digital Signage Forum and BlueFire Digital will bring series of papers on digital signage interactivity via mobile phones. Topics will include SMS, Bluetooth and Wi-fi at technical level, real life scenarios and more importantly how to monetize from it.

Bluetooth proximity marketing has picked up momentum globally. Brands such as Coca-Cola, NASCAR, Hollywood movie studios and even rock bands are utilizing this medium to connect with the target audience.  This medium is set for exponential growth considering more than 583 million Bluetooth enabled mobile phones will be sold in 2009 (Gartner) compare to mere 140 million in 2005. Global awareness of Bluetooth technology is at an all time high with 85 percent of consumers recognizing the wireless technology making this area of mobile marketing set to explode (Bluetooth SIG).

Bluetooth is a wireless technology standardized across devices and countries. Bluetooth unites range of devices such as mobile phone, headset, laptops, camera, keyboard and so on regardless of manufacture at a low cost, with low power consumption and a secure connection every time without synchronization problems. Bluetooth wireless frequency works in same frequency band as Wi-fi, cordless phone and microwave ovens. 

Consumer communication and marketing via Bluetooth delivers powerful and rich impact. Colorful and visually attractive content such as images, ring-tones or voice-tones, mobile videos, games, flash and pdf can be delivered to mobile phones.  In addition barcode scanable contents can be delivered to mobile phones for quick and easy redemption at POP and tracking.

With Bluetooth, content or promotional material can be delivered without going over carriers' network hence it is free for the consumer. Targeted consumers have ability save the content on the phone for later viewing, redeem offer at the cash register or the content can act as a paperless ticket for a sport or entertainment event. Moreover, contents or promotional messages delivered by Bluetooth can be shared with friends and family providing additional exposure for the brand or advertiser.

Bluetooth has its place in the marketing pantheon. Bluetooth enables advertisers to deliver rich content that can be shared amongst friends and family. SMS, wi-fi and 3G (mobile internet) aren't capable of doing both at same time. In addition the contents are delivered only to those who are around the Bluetooth access point or Bluetooth enabled digital signage and not to anyone beyond the range providing relevancy.

 

SMS

WI-FI

3G

Bluetooth

Free transmission

No

Yes

No

Yes

Rich Content

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Downloadable Content*

Yes

No

No

Yes

Viral component

Yes

No

No

Yes

Penetration

Very High

Very Low

Medium

High


* Saved to phone memory for later viewing

There are many good reasons Bluetooth marketing has picked up momentum. First, consumers are spending more time out of home and it is likely they are near businesses.  For advertisers, Bluetooth eliminates hassle with mobile operators and delivers rich content at lower cost. For consumer the contents are free and can be stored on their phone for consumption at will. More and more mobile phones are Bluetooth capable. Government regulations such as hands-free driving laws are paving way for technology awareness, penetration, education and more importantly usage.  It also comes with feel-good factor since contents are green and do not user paper based material in distribution. This eliminates labor, shipping and material costs.

Digital signage equipped with Bluetooth hardware and software provides great deal of advantage for digital network operators and advertisers. Since the install base for many digital networks is located near point of purchase, barcode scannable coupons or vouchers can be delivered to mobile phones. The proximity aspect of Bluetooth marketing can provide data for analysis on ROI, location traffic and peek into location demographics behavior. Furthermore, Bluetooth software can be configured so delivery of mobile content is synchronized with display content for maximum impact. 

Bluetooth is ideal technology for many locations including cinemas and theaters, events, and retail environment. The proximity of consumer relative to the store or location makes Bluetooth marketing an ideal solution.  In cinemas and theaters Bluetooth can compliment marketing activities related to up coming movie releases. Mobile wall-paper, ring-tones or voice-tones can be distributed to movie goers to enhance movie going experience.  At sports and entertainment events Bluetooth technology can deliver appropriate information and schedule to create loyal fan base. In retail environment, Bluetooth can effectively deliver coupon and money saving vouchers for up-sale and cross-sale and to bring in window shoppers. 

Since Bluetooth is relatively new technology for promotional activities many issues surrounding marketing activities must be addressed. From marketing perspective Bluetooth hotspots or Bluetooth enabled digital signage should have clear and visible call to action to inform customers about contents being offered to their phone. The mobile is a highly personal medium and since this is one-to-one marketing permission to deliver content should be obtained from users and relevant, meaningful and personalized content should be delivered.

According to Bluetooth SIG, Bluetooth technology is now an expected part of the average consumer's lifestyle. Recently Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) has drawn up draft guidelines for marketing and distribution of content via Bluetooth to provide procedures that ensure a positive user experience. Ability of Bluetooth wireless technology to provide cost effective proximity and location based marketing to relevant consumers on their mobile phones is attracting many advertisers and brands in USA and world over.