Gimbal integrates beacons with mobile, out-of-home messaging

Gimbal is going truly mobile with its beacons. That is, by putting beacons on moving assets, such as on the sides of buses and on Segways and jet packs, it's going about as mobile as you can get.

Gimbal Series 21 Proximity Beacon

Referred to as "out-of-home," or OOH, the transit system, roadside, street corners and other locations represent a relatively new arena for the devices. And while both OOH and mobile are effective channels in their own right, when integrated together, the combination is more effective than either of the channels by themselves, according to a white paper sponsored by Gimbal. When beacons and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) are added to the mix, the effectiveness of mobile as well as OOH is multiplied, according to paper titled "Watch This Space – Mobile, Beacons and Out-of-Home," by Phil Hendrix, managing director of consulting firm immr.

Last week, Gimbal announced a partnership with Vector Media that will have them upgrading Vector's transit advertising network to incorporate proximity marketing services. The initial agreement calls for outfitting 500 buses in Vector's nationwide network with Gimbal beacons that will engage riders and passersby within a 50-meter radius of selected vehicles. Vector's advertisers will be able to push relevant offers, discounts and messages to users within that radius who have opted in to Gimbal's mobile application publisher ecosystem.

"We've been playing in the outdoor space for a while," said Gimbal COO Kevin Hunter in an interview with FierceWirelessTech. "But this is one of the first mobile-type transit, out-of-home engagements that are out there. This is new for us as well as for the market."

Earlier this month, Gimbal announced a partnership with do it outdoors media, which it describes as the largest national mobile billboard and field marketing company. That partnership calls for beacons to be placed in the company's mobile billboard units, which are all owned and operated by do it outdoors, along with placement on Segways, jet packs, brand ambassador teams and other field marketing activation sites. That deal also involves about 500 beacons.

Gimbal also is making beacon firmware available to enable virtually any Bluetooth Low Energy device to act as a Gimbal beacon. With it, retailers, hotels, venues, advertisers and OOH networks can reach their mobile app users as well as to monetize their beacon networks by securely sharing access to the beacons with partners, sponsors or digital ad networks, according to the company. 

"This is an extension of making cities and the places we go smarter and more discoverable and engageable as we traverse through them," Hunter said. "We're excited to be in this space. It's a great way to bring mobile to mobile and I think that being one of the first to bring beacon technology to the mobile out-of-home space and leverage this as a new media type for advertisers and engagement experiences, it can be interesting to us as consumers" in terms of how we engage with the world around us.

According to the white paper, the OOH trend delivers one of the highest reaches of any advertising channel. OOH and mobile powered by beacons, or MOHBE, offers greater precision in targeting, richer data and measureable results. In the U.S. alone, OOH advertising represents a $7+ billion industry, projected to grow to more than $8 billion over the next five years.

Of course, beacons are tightly tied to smartphones. Generally speaking, when a mobile app comes within range of a beacon that it recognizes, the app can engage its owner with messages, offers and ads tailored to the location and individual.

Hunter said Gimbal has ongoing conversations with wireless carriers and they're looking at how to incorporate the technology with their offerings, but with the operating systems that are enabling the beacon features, especially from an Android and iOS perspective, a lot of it is happening at the OS level and with value add, over-the-top service providers like Gimbal that are delivering the technology and interpreting it through the phone.

For more:
- see this white paper
- see this press release

Related articles:
Google joins Apple, Facebook, Twitter in beacon race
Gimbal wants to turn Bluetooth LE devices into beacons
Wi-Fi technology goes beacon-like with upcoming Wi-Fi Aware feature
Gimbal, Urban Airship combine beacon, messaging expertise

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