What Are The Top 6 Reasons Places Use Beacons And Other Indoor Sensors?

Driving sales is the main primary driver behind indoor positioning serivices, followed by wayfinding, with building customer experience, brand awareness, and loyalty bringing up the rear, says an Indoor Atlas survey.

Beacons and other indoor location services have gone mainstream, as retailers double down on proximity platform programs while hospitals and airports are beginning to adopt the technology too.

At the same, the reasons driving the implementation of wifi, beacons, geo-magnetic positioning, ultrasound, and evening signals from lighting systems, have expanded the reasons for implementing a location proximity program in the first place, according to an IndoorAtlas-commissioned survey of 301 CMO-level decision-makers at mid-to-large organizations with at least 250+ employees across health services, Leisure/travel/transport, Marketing/media, and retail categories.

Brands like Marriott and Neiman Marcus expand their respective use of beacons, the reasons for initiating a proximity technology program have evolved from sending a coupon for an item on the shelf at a retail location. Even Waze is starting to place beacons to bridge the gaps in GPS signals to alert drivers about traffic conditions.

While almost every person surveyed by research firm Vanson Bourne said their organization has either added or is adding indoor location positioning services, the key takeaways from the survey also showed:

  • Right now: 38 percent of all global respondents currently use indoor positioning.
  • Global view: Looking at the international breakdown of that number, 43 percent of US respondents have already initiated an indoor proximity program, followed by the UK and Asia (both at 33 percent).
  • What kind?: As for adoption of particular kinds of offerings, 47 percent of the entities surveyed rely on wifi as their primary proximity communications channel, followed by 26 percent who use beacons, and 17 percent who rely on geo-magnetic positioning, which provides “natural GPS” inside because the steel within buildings distorts devices’ readings of the Earth’s geo-magnetic waves.
  • Budgets: Over the next year, decision-makers expect to allocate just 2.47 percent of their marketing budgets to indoor positioning. Looking ahead at the next 3-to-5 years, that number rises slightly to 3.07 percent of their marketing expenditures.

The Big Why

When discussing the use case for proximity tools, platform companies and their clients often tell us it’s to “enhance the indoor experience.” But more than half of survey respondents cited “attracting customers” and “increasing sales/revenues” (55 percent for both citations) as the first and second reasons why they’ve installed beacons or other sensors.

A close 48 percent said for usability, which implies wayfinding, while driving “brand awareness” and “customer loyalty” came in at 42- and 41 percent of the tally (reasons 5 and 6).

“Customer experience” was cited by 47 percent of the CMOs in the survey.

As Dan Patton, IndoorAtlas’ CCO told GeoMarketing, location-centric apps are the obvious driver behind the widening interest in proximity. For the most part, proximity marketing accounts for 82 percent of the use cases, with way-finding (42 percent), purchasing/reserving items (35 percent), asset tracking (32 percent), and search (31 percent) are the other forces shaping the direction of the landscape.

Use cases that are cited less often — price checks (30 percent), employee or public safety (28 percent), and tracking footfall (28 percent) — are likely to become much more important in later years.

“The mega-trend driving all this, in my view, is definitely the adoption of mobile applications,” said Patton. “Every consumer now is using mobile apps from their insurance company to social media to their bank, etc. Most companies are aware of that, so they’re trying to respond to that. How can I be relevant to my customer base, whether I’m a bank, an insurance company or a retailer Ads dive more and more into mobile apps. There’s definitely an awareness that’s been increasing of location. Can you provide information to your end-customer in context of their location? That is this next wave that we’re seeing.”



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About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

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