Recently, we were pleased to see the beacons market heating up with Samsung’s entry into the space with Placedge. Samsung has approached beacons in a completely different way to Apple. With Samsung, Placedge works in two ways. Firstly by allowing developers to integrate the SDK into existing or new apps to provide proximity relevant experiences. Secondly, Samsung has found a way to bypass the need for users to have specific apps installed, by creating an app at the system level that can be used to send messages out.
Beacons have worked, via third party libraries, on Android ever since the release of KitKat last year. This year, Google has introduced greater support for BLE and beacons with the release of Lollipop. Samsung is taking support even further, with an SDK designed for Samsung devices that provides developers with the ability to provide proximity awareness to apps, similar to Apple’s iBeacon.
Where Samsung is taking a different approach, is by creating a system level app that provides brands and developers with a way to reach consumers, without the need to have an app installed.
This provides brands and marketers with the ability to send out relevant messages when users are within range of a beacon. Though this is being praised, there are some important considerations which bear thinking about, before using the technology to engage with consumers.
Namely, users may not want to receive messages from brands they haven’t already engaged with and opted-in to receiving messages from; which currently involves downloading a brand’s app.
Though the system is very clever, and clearly aimed at the marketing industry, we see beacons providing much broader potential to engage with customers as they enter a beacon zone.
In some ways, Samsung’s Placedge is similar to early use of Bluetooth, when it was used to send out messages to people as they passed transmitters. Whilst that system used Classic Bluetooth and early signs showed that it was successful, users quickly got irritated by receiving messages on their phones.
An early trial that took place at Heathrow to promote Land Rover cars saw a 15% engagement, which was hugely impressive. The impact led to other brands jumping on board which quickly led to fatigue with consumers and Bluetooth being negatively perceived.
Samsung, and brands that use this system, will no doubt be giving careful consideration to how campaigns are run, to protect the user experience.
We can of course see the appeal for brands with this type of service and clearly this was part of the reason Samsung elected to provide a way for brands to engage with users. However, it has to be done with care and consideration for the user experience. Alana Saunders, Senior Mobile Strategy Consultant at Mubaloo said “information triggered or made available must be relevant to users and they must feel like they are getting value out of the system.”
With beacons, just because it’s possible, doesn’t mean that it should be done. Mobile’s are the most intimate devices people tend to own. Protecting them and their experience is the most important challenge companies face. This is about the human experience.