Long ago I wondered about those global positioning satellites above us. I thought about how they can pinpoint where we are and how we might use that technology for more than just targeting systems. Then mobile phones came out and not long after Google Maps showed us how to get around. When Bluetooth came about, our phones suddenly became part of a hyper-local tool kit that didn’t need a satellite and is far more accurate. Bluetooth gave birth to wireless headsets so we could talk hands free. It allows our phones to talk with our computers or our car. And as soon as we were able to download apps for our phones we had advertising to go with them. Then someone realized advertising could take advantage of that hyper-local tool kit and proximity marketing was born.
Beacons and proximity marketing aren’t just for commercial business uses. Higher education will use them to enrich the on-campus experience in 2016 (okay – maybe 2017). Here are some ways beacons will be used along with examples from the commercial world. Beacon technology offers higher ed some key advantages like reduced costs and increased efficiency. Some campuses have already begun to deploy beacon networks. The need to compete will drive other universities and colleges to deploy their own and enrich the student’s, alumnae, and other visitor’s mobile experience in order to compete.
A short background on where this idea came from. Product placement is the practice of displaying a brand’s product or trademark somewhere within the content being consumed. It can be subtle or big and bold.
Product placement has been around a long time. “In the 1920s-30s US commercial radio evolved into a sponsored medium when broadcasters sought to impose the cost of programming onto advertisers. 1.” Product placement made its way into the film industry in the 1920s 2.
- Branded Entertainment Reshapes Media Ecosystem, Cynthia B. Meyers, Carsey-Wolf Center ↩
- The Elon Journal of Undergraduate Research in Communications, Vol. 1, No. 1, Winter 2010 ↩
One of the first projects I was handed after I started at Norwich University was responsibility for a mobile app. The conversation with my boss at the time went something like this.
“…and we need to work with Admissions on the mobile app.”
“What mobile app?”
“Admissions and the Development office have been talking about a mobile app.”
“How far along on are they?”
“One of the Alumns knows someone…”
“Okay. Goal? Audience? App, website, or responsive design?”
“Umm. Give them a call.”
It quickly became clear none of the homework had been done. I want to be clear these are smart people. They are very good at what they do but they don’t think in the same way that techies do. We think in terms of goals, scopes, outcomes, and timelines. It was an education on both our parts. After a short while, I corralled and worked with Danielle Krizan from the alumni office and together we established some criteria based on what we heard from the Admissions and Alumni offices. Essentially they liked a few of the key features of apps they had seen plus the novelty of reaching potential students and alumni in the mobile space. But they couldn’t articulate a clear goal. So we defined one for them.