beacons on buses

The next time a double-decker bus passes you by, it might just send you a coupon for the restaurant you’re about to enter or for the store across the street.

No longer relegated to in-store placement, beacons are on the move — and could be coming your way soon.

Through a recent partnership between Gimbal and Vector Media, 500 buses across the US will eventually be outfitted with beacons. This will give advertisers a way to send push messages like offers and discounts to people at a sporting event, entertainment venue, or other high-traffic areas.

“Marketers now have the ability to bring real-world accountability and metrics to Out of Home advertising [OOH] — something they could never truly do before,” said Ray Rotolo, senior VP of OOH Assets for Gimbal.

Taking Proximity to the Customer

When asked about his moment of clarity regarding the idea of placing beacons on buses, he said it came during a meeting with Vector in which he asked: “What if we take proximity to the consumer instead of making the customer come to us?”

Vector Media’s North American double-decker network includes tour vehicles in retail-heavy markets like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas and Miami.

According to the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA), Out of Home advertising accounted for 5.1 percent of overall media spend for 2014, with broadcast television, cable and internet leading the way in other sectors.

Out of Home advertising can take many forms, including:

  • billboards
  • street furniture (bus stops, phone kiosks, digital signs)
  • transit (airports, buses and taxis)
  • alternative forms (arenas, cinemas and shopping malls)

“There is a power to physical exposure, and everything is converging on different devices,” said Rotolo. “We want to bridge that physical exposure to a digital component, and extend it to the trusted universal devices that consumers use to make purchasing decisions.”

Metrics: The Key to the Future

In addition to bridging the physical presence, Rotolo stressed the importance of bringing in metrics so that advertisers can begin to understand how Out of Home proximity can influence purchasing behavior. He described how Gimbal’s platform can facilitate this.

“We can build in a real-world behavior metric on top of the Out of Home metric in order to create a true physical attribution model,” he said.

Now that Gimbal is conquering the double-decker bus world, what’s next for them?

“We’re working with retailers and the venues we partner with to build a marketplace to connect brands, people and places all over the world in a relevant contextual environment.”

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Title image from Vector Media's Twitter stream.