Urban Airship Gets Beacons

Urban Airship Gets iBeacon | Image Via CNET

Urban Airship launched support for Bluetooth LE beacons yesterday along with other enhancements to its relationship management platform. As perhaps the leading provider of push messaging and associated technologies, Urban Airship is positioning beacon support as a natural extension of reaching consumers at the right place and time.

While the news may have been drowned out by the quiet release of Apple’s iBeacon specification, we actually think it’s far more significant. With the release by Urban Airship developers, brands and retailers can now gain access to multiple technologies through a single vendor including:

  • Apple Passbook and Google Wallet integration
  • Push messaging
  • Geofencing
  • Bluetooth LE beacon support
  • Deep analytics

Where Are You in the iBeacon Stack?

The move isn’t a surprise. We’ve speculated previously that the ‘becosystem’ would be driven from two ends of the stack: from the devices themselves, with services being layered on top; and from existing services and products with beacons being added to existing systems.

In fact, we proposed that it wouldn’t take long for Urban Airship to join the beacon fray and for companies like Pinterest and Facebook to follow (or at least offer basic APIs that integrate more directly with iBeacon technology).

Recently, Brent Hieggelke of Urban Airship wrote about how iBeacon needed to be part of a larger experience because otherwise consumers will be turned off by the incessant bugging of an iBeacon-enabled app:

Seriously, though, after a few too many buzzing, irrelevant alerts, the best you can hope for (perhaps naively) is that customers tune you out and let your brand remain on their mobile devices. Some have envisioned scenarios where grocery stores become their own ad networks, auctioning off the end cap of each aisle for different brands to advertise to shoppers. Chiming, beeping, buzzing ads trip-wired to every aisle, hawking the latest must-have products — you won’t be able to put your phone down.

In response to that concern, their back-end platform for managing beacons and associated messages uses things like dwell times and frequency limits, much as Gimbal and Swirl already do. NextWeb reports that:

In a bid to avoid bombarding customers, Urban Airship’s new solution also features timing delays and frequency limits for subsequent messages beyond customers’ responses or non-responses. For example, a business may trigger a free shipping offer two days after a customer abandons his/her shopping cart, but avoid sending it more than once per month to each customer.

In combination with their easy-to-use Passbook and Google Wallet services, Urban Airship is offering an end-to-end solution for push messages and iBeacon-based transactions that jumps it ahead of the queue for ease-of-deployment. You can now build a robust customer journey from geofence through proximity from a single supplier of services.

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3 Responses to “Urban Airship Gets Beacons”

  1. Doug, from what you’re hearing, do you think Beacon rollout will be hampered by firms who are more intent on advertising than providing value? I think Brent’s exactly right, and I hope his industry peers are listening. Consumers will label beacons as spamming devices in a heartbeat. They have to be given value first. Beyond mobile payments, what do you think that value can be?

  2. David Walker

    I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that once I’ve pulled my phone out of my pocket four times in response to a beacon it’ll be to find the OFF switch.

  3. Agree with David totally. The right TIME and right PLACE, customers will really care about such alert promotion message ! We are building the same iBeacons solution for detailers, welcome further discussion.


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