2017 Predictions #16: Beacons Take A Major Leap

David Kaplan Yext

To give you a jump start on the new year, we asked industry experts about their predictions for the future of location, marketing, and technology in 2017. We’ll be posting their responses over the next month here on the Yext blog. Follow us on Twitter @Yext for new posts, and tweet at us with your own predictions.


David Kaplan
Managing Editor, GeoMarketing

For the past three years, Bluetooth-powered beacons have become a pivotal tool for closing the loop around indoor/outdoor location marketing and analytics.

This particular sensor has become mainstream: Macy’s, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Marriott, United Airlines, and other large brands have rolled out beacons widely in the three-plus years since Apple rolled out its iOS-based iBeacon platform (followed by 2015’s Google Eddystone format).

Up to now, the advancements have been largely limited to improving battery life or shrinking the size of the devices for easier indoor placement. Some beacon platforms have even been able to expand the range of the devices in order to form an indoor network.

Despite those improvements, the use cases have remained largely the same. Typically, a consumer who has opted in to receive a brand’s app-based push notifications gets a discount while passing by an in-store display.

Aside from the necessary, privacy-friendly need to get consumers’ permission to send marketing messages, the friction involved in getting more consumers to interact with beacons has been a tall hurdle for brands.

Apple’s “surprising” decision to remove the headphone jack is likely to emulated by other smartphone makers. That means, in most cases, users will be relying on Bluetooth-powered headphones. And as users adopt other Internet of Things devices, the notion of keeping Bluetooth on and being attuned to all kinds of connected sensors (like beacons) will become second nature.

From there, the expectation that consumers’ connected devices will interact with the places they go, driving greater personalization that will leave people more open to the broader uses of location technology.

Ultimately, that will spur marketers to find ways of satisfying consumers’ needs even before they ask for it, such as when their connected car is close to running out of gas or helping suggest a place to get a present for a friend’s approaching birthday celebration.

And as those connections become a daily part of people’s lives, one safe prediction for 2017 is that location technology will assume an even more central part of the decisions consumers and marketers make.

This post is part of a series of 2017 predictions from industry experts.

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