Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Bluetooth or Bluespam?

One of the more interesting types of marketing to emerge in recent years is Bluetooth proximity marketing. Customers will receive messages when they enter a geographic zone. While it may not be the greatest medium to receive random brand messages, it could work under the right circumstances. I think that Bluetooth technology is changing everyday and that eventually we may start to see it utilized in places other than our cell phones more. Many people hate this type of marketing, though, renaming it “bluespamming.”

What are the right circumstances? Sales promotions and other messages that have proven to be successful mobile marketing communications to start off are messages that could be well-received while consumers are in “shopping mode”. Nothing complex, naturally – the messages should be limited to something that the receiver can easily comprehend in a short amount of time without too much trouble (more on that later). Finally, I think the best implementation of proximity marketing is in a situation where message receivers can be targeted in some way. For example, at an athletic event or concert where those in the area share a common interest or trait would be a way to use Bluetooth devices as a marketing tool. The Beijing Olympics provided this type of a setting for a Coca Cola message to be well-received by attendees.

What are the wrong circumstances? Most of them probably aren’t conducive to these messages. A situation where the message cannot be targeted at all and is sent out randomly and clumsily to unsuspecting consumers does not benefit the company, marketer, or consumer. In many cases, it is just too much work for the consumer to receive the message. In other cases, it strongly resembles spam and other junk messages consumers receive all too often. There is no tailoring of the message, personalization, or benefit to the consumer at all.

One of the biggest advantages with it is that Bluetooth proximity marketing is highly measurable. It allows the service providers to make a buck as well (although I personally hardly consider adding to the marketing cost with this “middleman” type situation an advantage). The biggest problem with Bluetooth proximity marketing is that, essentially, the headsets were not designed to work this way. In order to view a video or visual message, the user must pair it with the device – kind of defeats the purpose of a headset, doesn’t it?

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