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Opera Mediaworks Organizes Beacon Developer Alliance

The mobile ad platform has lined up eight partners with the promise of moving micro-targeting from “ad hoc ads” to “enhancing consumer experiences.”

Opera Mediaworks' Andrew Dubatowka
Opera Mediaworks’ Andrew Dubatowka

With beacons now firmly on the minds most major retailers, mobile ad company Opera Mediaworks is trying to position itself as one of the primary forces that can unlock the fuller potential of these Bluetooth-powered sensors.

To do that, the San Mateo company has enlisted the help of eight beacon providers, including Roximity, Pulsate, Pinpoint Mobile, Signal360, and four other unidentified companies, in what it’s calling the Strategic Beacon Alliance.

“The purpose of the Opera Mediaworks Strategic Beacon Alliance is to move the beacon marketing industry forward and focus more attention on beacon data fueling paid media targeting and measurement,” Andrew Dubatowka, Opera’s director of Innovation Product Strategy, tells GeoMarketing. “The alliance will help Opera Mediaworks’ clients navigate the confusing beacon space and ultimately pilot new ways to use beacons to improve their marketing mix.

While beacons began seriously entering mainstream retail marketing in the past year, figuring out how best to use the devices has lagged adoption (Business Insider estimates that, by the end of 2015, 32 percent of the top 100 US retail outlets will have installed beacons; it further forecasts that number to rise to 85 percent the following year). For most of the public, beacons remain a fairly unknown entity — and in the cases of botched testing of these sensors, a potentially invasive one.

“Opera Mediaworks spearheaded this project in July 2014 and began reaching out to the leading names in beacon marketing technology,” Dubatowka says. “Through strategic conversations we combed through all the partners and technologies to uncover companies that shared our vision and also had the technical capabilities to deliver against that vision.”

Beacons In All Sizes

For Opera and its beacon developer allies, encouraging collaboration will not only help find ways of educating wary consumers, it will also drive greater creativity in expanding from a “one-size fits all” marketing model to one that’s more nuanced in approach, says Roximity CEO Danny Newman.

In most retail use cases, beacons will be used to deliver app-based content and notifications based on a mobile user’s location and context. All too often, what’s sent to users’ phones is no more relevant than an otherwise ordinary banner ad. To tap into beacons’ true value, retailers need to be shown how indoor sensors can be used to help a consumer complete a specific task — such as guiding a convenience store shopper to the aisle where they can find their favorite sunscreen on a sultry July afternoon.

“Beacons are the rare technology in the ad tech world that offers a win for all parties, including consumers,” says Signal360 CEO/founder Alex Bell, in a statement. “For instance, one of our clients saw a 93 percent increase in basket size from users who recently received a beacon-triggered marketing message.”

Beacons Beat Cookies

Opera Mediaworks' Scott Swanson
Opera Mediaworks’ Scott Swanson

In addition to expanding the creative development around beacons, Scott Swanson, Opera’s president of Global Ad Sales, says that the alliance will promote the value of targeting with beacons as an alternative to relying on cookie-based behavioral tracking on consumers’ desktops.

“With the launch of the Strategic Beacon Alliance, national brands can now leverage the rich data sets delivered by beacon technology to enable a far deeper understanding of their customers, based on a real-world, physical context,” Swanson says.

“Imagine segmenting and targeting users based on locations they frequent, for instance, identifying that fitness addict by seeing her hit a beacon in her gym every day, then serving her an ad in the evening when she’s browsing her favorite news app,” adds Dubatowka.

Beneficiary Of Past Privacy Battles

On top of building a united front to generate greater use of beacons, Opera says that it can better assure consumers about standard practices around their privacy and data by having a formal alliance.

The advantage beacons have by emerging right now is that other digital marketing formats have already absorbed the challenges and lessons associated with consumer privacy issues. The Beacon Alliance can therefore use the template of wider standard practices, such as ensuring users can opt out of ad tracking within their device’s operating system — which would stop beacon-targeted ads to those who are averse to them.

Consumers can also manage location data permissions on an app-by-app basis, whether it is through GPS or beacon technology.

“It should all be up to the user, and brands need to be very up front and explicit with their requests,” says Pulsate CEO, Patrick Leddy. “If you immediately ask for access to user location, it’s likely you’ll get a poor response. It’s better to ask for it the second or third time, while educating users on the value they get from opting in,” he says.

While Opera’s Dubatowka says that the alliance remains open to adding more companies” when it makes sense,” membership comes with meeting certain requirements.

“Any beacon platform added to the alliance must prove that it is enterprise-grade and that they have the ability to append their client’s beacon data to the anonymous, standardized Android and iOS advertising IDs,” Dubatowka says. “Potential companies also need to be able to define and crunch custom audience segments to be used in paid media use cases. Finally, potential partners need to deploy several crucial privacy standards and best practices.”

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of GeoMarketing.com. A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.