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Verve Deepens Indoor Targeting With Beacon Specialist Gimbal

The mobile ad tech company wants to complement its outside geo-fences with inside ad targeting.

Verve CRO James Smith
Verve CRO James Smith

Location-based ad targeter Verve Mobile has signed a deal with beacon operator Gimbal as part of a wider effort to move beyond advertising in proximity to businesses by placing ads on smartphones while consumers navigate the aisles of retailers’ shops.

The partnership is something of an expansion for the two companies and is designed to capitalize on the rise of indoor ad targeting from beacons, a technology that will be featured much more prominently in the coming Apple iOS 8. Verve will now have access to Gimbal’s own proximity engagement platform, which includes its two beacon products. Verve plans to layer Gimbal’s tools with its own Purchase Path Analytics offering and its location-based ad delivery system.

A Different Spin

Verve CRO James Smith describes this deal as a “formalization” of an existing relationship with Gimbal, which was previously known as Qualcomm Retail Solutions. The San Diego beacon provider was spun off as a standalone company from mobile technology operator Qualcomm this past spring.

“We’ve been in close communication with the Verve team for quite some time, dating back prior to our carve-out from Qualcomm,” says Gimbal CEO Rocco Fabiano. “Verve has been getting great traction with their location-based advertising solution and they were early to recognize the power of precise location and proximity. The Gimbal platform will add advanced geo-fencing and [our] Bluetooth Smart beacons.”

Gimbal (the name is related to the support system of a gyroscope, which is particularly useful for orienting a device for location and direction) has gotten some attention for its deals with The Staples Center and AEG’s network of concert and sports venues. Solidifying its relationship with Verve gives the company greater access to advertisers, too.

“Gimbal provides a great deal, but at first, the partnership is focused on Gimbal beacons in retail points of purchase,” Verve’s Smith says. “These devices, in collaboration with smartphones — in an opt-in, aggregated, and privacy-friendly manner — provide insights and data that a smartphone cannot alone provide to marketers about consumer behavior at this time. And Gimbal beacons also allow for consumer-focused value, like customized offers and more.”

Inside And Out

The arrangement with Gimbal comes as Verve has been working towards a fuller ad solution for online-to-offline marketing. At the start of the year, Verve, which claims a reach of more than 50 million mobile monthly uniques in the US, began inviting users to save the custom, geo-targeted ads it creates for the small-to-medium-sized businesses it works with on Passbook, the wallet app that comes embedded in all iPhones.

The promise of beacons — which is facing increasing competition from other indoor marketing tools, including magnet positioning, cameras, Wi-Fi, inaudible sound waves, and LED lighting — is that it can help address the problem with geo-fencing, namely its imprecision when it comes to targeting. For example, geo-fences tend to apply to any connected device that just happens to be within 100-feet of a targeted business. In other words, it doesn’t know if a consumer is interested in an ad or not. The use of beacons, like those deployed by Gimbal, helps address the issue of sending an ad to the most receptive user by clearly allowing shoppers in a store to opt-in or out of receiving marketing messages. Ultimately, beacons are intended to make the process of ad targeting much less random.

By being able to present consumers with deals and enticements to retailers while they’re outside a business, Verve and Gimbal believe that they’ll be able to drive greater foot-traffic to brick-and-mortar retailers. Marketers are eager to see how mobile ads can close the advertising loop both inside and outside store locations, notes Smith. In addition, the data about consumer shopping patterns around points of purchase is, in some respect, even more valuable than merely sending ads to smartphone users as they pass in and out of stores.

“By using Gimbal proximity beacons, Verve will now be able to provide even more contextual precision in their offerings,” Fabiano says. “This will allow Verve to better track attribution; thereby enabling their ad buyers to accurately assess the return on their advertising investment.”

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.