Beacons have always been known as retail tools, and now we’re beginning to see them as asset tracking tools--but that’s still just the tip of the ice berg. Beacons are not only about action. They do more then enable push notifications or indoor navigation. There are countless interesting (and profitable) use cases to be found when we focus purely on beacon data.
Thomas Walle, CEO and co-founder of Unacast put it this way:
“With beacons, there is an overfocus on in-store experience. With notifications, you get one magical moment and that’s it. But the real value is when [businesses] understand it’s a data capturing tool.”
Walle’s idea is very contrary to what the average user might expect, but he makes a good point: beacons aren’t retail tools; they’re data capturing tools. What we do with that data—send messages, create heatmaps—is up to businesses and solution providers. The beacon doesn’t require sign-ups or close-up physical interaction like other tools. Once a user has the related app, they’re on. Once a user steps into the space, the beacons know it and the infrastructure can start collecting data almost immediately. Unlike NFC, for example, which requires more interaction and can miss several opportunities to collect data.
While "Big Data" has been a popular term for years and beacons are one of the emerging technologies that cater perfectly to its end, we don’t read much about it. Several companies are already monetizing beacon data, yet there is a big black hole on the web as far as beacon data is concerned. That’s why Proximity Studio sat down with Thomas Walle, CEO and co-founder of Unacast, the company behind Proxbook, the world’s largest beacon network and several popular data analysis solutions, in order to better outline the possibilities of beacon data and how businesses can make the most of it. That’s when he told us:
“We’re seeing a trend where companies focus more on data monetization, retargeting, and in-store attribution. Everyone wants access to equally valuable data, and they have to invest in beacons in order to get it.”
Two crucial points need to be addressed before we even start thinking about generating mountains of data. Not all data is useful, and businesses need to have their data in the right format and rich with the right information. Device IDs are important. If your rows of data aren’t tied to actionable information, they aren’t useful. They're future dark data. This means, even when a company considers data a pleasant side effect, they must still be prepared to plan ahead.
Similarly, those numbers will become dark data when companies just sit on them. It’s very easy to get excited about data and start collecting it. But monetizing, selling, and trading is key to actually completing the cycle and driving revenue.
In short, there are three steps to keep in mind:
Unacast also expertly outlined 4 possibilities to monetize beacon data here including renting out your beacon network, including renting out your network, involving other parties, and monetizing through online advertising.
Beacon data is not only useful for the company who collected it but also for external brands. For example, sports teams are using beacons to learn about fans and then monetize that data by selling to sponsors. This means better fan experiences, a profitable beacon infrastructure, and happy sports brands. Stadium beacon data helps brands continue the conversation with fans even after they leave the premises, or, as the popular Chivas team discovered, monetize the brand.
Beacon infrastructures can be designed to not only collect location data, but names, emails, demographic information, or social data. It’s up to the app and business to decide what data is necessary to collect.