Tuesday, December 30, 2014

New wifi cloud management beacons from Kontakt

OfferDrop merchants,

There is some good news we wanted to share with our merchant community. As we all know managing and maintaining beacons is one of the requirements of any OfferDrop installation. We are happy to pass along some information that Kontakt, one of our beacon device partners, has an exciting announcement that will help simplify beacon maintenance and monitoring for small and big installations alike.

Kontakt is releasing a new wifi cloud powered beacon that will make beacon maintenance automated and remotely manageable from the cloud. Please read more:

We are excited about how this new technology will make deploying and maintaining your OfferDrop environment easier and more efficient.

Happy OfferDropping!

OfferDrop Team

Mobile Advertising Will Soon Hit a Wall

Today, Facebook is one of the most successful internet giants at monetizing their mobile app properties using mobile advertising. However, a significant portion of Facebook's mobile advertising is coming from VC spending on mobile app downloads and related user acquisitions. Just spend some time on your Facebook time line and see for yourself. This is obviously not sustainable and a big concern for Facebook's long-term revenue growth potential.  Of course Facebook is not alone in this, but they are the king of the hill and they are riding the wave right now.

Now, we all know what happens when this type of startup and VC fueled spending ends and it will end once the land grab for mobile app downloads and mobile app users dies down and we move into a flatter mobile growth curve. It is one of those cycles that we have seen come and go. The successful players in the mobile advertising space are going to be the ones that are thinking beyond just online mobile advertising via sponsored posts and suggested products in a user's timeline. Next generation mobile advertising, that truly leverages the power of mobile technology, will be about customer engagement and not about how many friends you have. It is about where you are right now and what you might be interested in right now in the physical world (not just online).

The likes of Facebook need to augment their mobile advertising strategy toward more unbundled mobile apps and mobile apps that engagement users in the offline world as well as the online. Mobile apps that fuse to the real world with the online using all the tools available to mobile technology are the ones that will be successful in monetizing mobile users while providing sustainable and meaningful value to the the end user. This type of mobile technology includes integrating proximity and contextual computing into a user's mobile app experience. The definition of successful mobile advertising as we know it today will soon change, so get ready.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Why Every Local Merchant Needs a Contextual Mobile Presence

For local merchants, mobile is the new way to define brand and presence both on the web and on the streets (geo-streets that is). These days having just a domain name, webpage and company Facebook page is so last decade. Today, every local merchant needs a mobile presence that connects them with their patrons in a way that engages patrons as they shop. This however is no longer adequate, as mobile alone does not cut it. What merchants need today is mobile plus a big dose of contextual and proximity driven engagement in order to connect with patrons as they shop and in a way that is not seen as invading on privacy.

The big challenge with mobile shopping utility apps and social gizmo apps, that try to assist mobile shoppers or that hit customers with marketing offers and ads, is that they leave the retailer's brand behind and they end up fitting everyone into a Facebook universe or cram you into how players such as FourSquare or ShopKick model the mobile commerce world. These are all good apps, but they don't put the merchant in control nor do they put the merchant's brand in the forefront, because the merchant does not own the app. Much like business website, every local merchant needs to control the experience that mobile shoppers have in their establishment, and not let some third party obscure and waterdown their brand.

It is all about the merchant owning the app real-estate that is used to experience Joe's Coffee Shop, for example, while consumers are in Joe's Coffee Shop. This is why many social and mobile commerce apps are struggling to enable the full potential of mobile commerce for local merchants. The answer is to utilize mobile much like the way any merchant websites would work. As a local merchant, you want your website that you own, operate and customize. You don't want to fit into someone else's ecosystem and brand. It is great to have a merchant Facebook page or to have a corporate Twitter handle, but the in-store mobile app experience that shoppers have in your establishment on your premises should be something you as the merchant owns and controls, much like your website. It is part of your brand and your gateway for communicating and reaching your customers.

Big and small local merchants need to define their own mobile commerce experience and brand and not depend on the likes of ShopKick and FourSquare to define how they engage their local shoppers. This is in part why Facebook and others have not figured out local commerce yet.

Why can't every merchant have their own in-store app just like they have their own website? Why can't every local merchant engage and communicate with local shoppers to nurture a closer relationship with customers? A mobile app is more than just software or a thing to process a credit card transaction or track loyalty; it is a piece of real-estate, in each of the respective app stores, that engages the customer both while they are in and out of the merchant's establishment, just like a website represents a company (big or small) on the web and more. This is what OfferDrop is working to enable for all local merchants and venue owners. Join OfferDrop today to get control of your mobile presence with your local shoppers, while they are in and out of your establishment.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

OfferDrop Release v1.7

OfferDrop is pleased to announce the release of OfferDrop 1.7 for merchants and mobile shoppers. Now available in the Apple app store for the iPad (for merchants) and iPhone (for shoppers).

This release is packed with new features and improvements to enable merchants to engage with in-store customers using iBeacons. New features include:

1) Enhanced algorithm for discovering offers as shoppers move about your store.
2) In-stores offers only visible after notifications are received for stores with multiple beacons giving merchants more control over when offers are visible.
3) Separate notification sent per in-store offer. No more single batch notifications.
4) Lock screen notifications will navigate user to new popup offer details UI.
5) iPad merchant app account settings UI redesign.
6) iPad merchant settings info to configure more merchant options.
7) iPhone UI redesign for great look & feel and navigation.
8) New iPhone push notification center.
9) iPhone beacon detection critical bug fix for new offers.
10) New customer in-store feedback feature to allow merchants to communicate directly with their in-store customers.
11) iPhone in-store offers now show in separate popup.
12) Bug fixes.
Download or upgrade from the Apple app store today to get the latest Merchant iPad app and iPhone mobile app.

Updated Android release for mobile shoppers now also available in the Google Play store.

OfferDrop Team

"In-Store Mobile Customer Engagement"

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Contextual Connection

I know that people are sometimes concerned with beacons and privacy, but in fact I think that beacons can have the reverse effect. For example, in the OfferDrop consumer in-store app, all users are anonymous but can still communicate and engage with merchants and receive offers anonymously.

Mobile patrons can link within the app with Twitter/Facebook, if they like, to socialize with their own network, but within OfferDrop and with the OfferDrop in-store merchant they are completely anonymous entities. How does this work? It works because the connection between merchant and shopper is based on physical proximity which makes it a contextual connection between all the parties involved (but private) and that is validated by the beacon which sits in the center of all this.

This is possible because beacons are local and in the moment contextual devices so the merchant can trust that they are engaging with communication or delivering an offer to someone in their store. This is hugely powerful. Then via anonymous but unique identification, the merchant can optionally continue the conversation with the customer after they leave the store with mobile push notifications, messages...etc. By both parties making that initial "contextual connection" they know a lot about each other without compromising their identity.

OfferDrop lets the merchant follow up with relevant offers both in and out of the store, once both parties (merchant and customer) have made that first initial in-store "contextual connection". This frees the merchant from tracking email addresses or needing to know your identity. And shoppers gets to use the OfferDrop mobile consumer app without logging in - no more remember passwords since the app is running on their personal smartphone. OfferDrop knows them by their mobile ID, since mobile devices are personal objects that more or less identify a unique user.

So beacons and contextual computing are actually a benefit to privacy and improve merchant marketing and advertising opportunities while keeping the consumer protected and connected with the best possible contextual experience with the world around them. Everyone benefits with mobile, beacons and contextual computing. The world of advertising, marketing and customer engagement (even customer support) will forever change with the advent of iBeacons and contextual computing. With contextual communication people can go beyond blasting obscure posts and messages to he whole world to see or to some distant virtual social network, instead people can engage with the world around them like never before - come back to real world - lots of cool things to see and experience :)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

OfferDrop Merchant App Release 1.3

OfferDrop is happy to announce the release of OfferDrop Merchant App for the iPad. This latest release delivers some exciting features to local merchants be allowing merchants and developers the ability to manage and add their own Estimote beacons as well as support for other iBeacon compatible manufacturers. This release also includes advanced spam control and optimized mobile offer deliver features so that merchants can reach mobile shoppers and keep them engaged with well timed and optimized in-store notifications.

OfferDrop is a new kind of digital marketing and customer contact platform designed to work out of the box and can be used directly by local merchants (low cost and easy to get started fast) and is ideal for digital marketing agencies as well that need more sophisticated tools and customization (white labeled mobile consumer apps).

To make this happen OfferDrop uses all the usual technologies such as mobile, Push Notifications and cloud based CMS technology, but OfferDrop also incorporate iBeacan and peer-to-peer communication for the local experience and engagement. And OfferDrop has a number of advanced technology capabilities that help govern, in an efficient and optimized manner, both the in-store and out-of-store mobile customer experience.

OfferDrop is not another push notification campaign management solution, instead OfferDrop has built a mobile first platform that allows merchants to engage with local shoppers while visitors are in the store and out of the store, and with a focus on in-store communication and customer retention. OfferDrop lowers the barrier of entry for merchants and digital marketing agencies and delivers a solution where the smartphone shopper/visitor is in control of their mobile contextual experience.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The iBeacon Race is On

The potential of micro-location and proximity services has long been promised and is not really anything that new. But I think we are now reaching a tipping point with the realization of this technology in every day life. With the pervasiveness of mobile devices and the wide adoption of Bluetooth LE (BLE) in common devices, we are reaching a critical mass with how developers and businesses can use this technology to engage with mobile users and optimize various location services.

As the momentum for BLE has been building, Apple's iOS 7 and Android 4.3 have opened the door wide open for developers to begin to bring innovative solutions to the market. But I think one of the biggest momentum drivers for this will be the Apple iBeacon standard (trademark and BLE profile). The recent announcement by Apple will create a certification type standard that will further enable better interoperability and ultimately lower development costs and other technology barriers. While the iBeacon name is often times used loosely to include any device that uses BLE, what Apple is doing will set a standard for how both mobile devices and transmitting contextual devices can talk with each other. This will lower the bar for developers to build applications that can work with a wider spectrum of device maker beacons - and the list of manufactures is growing every day. The iBeacon stamp will likely become the gold standard for micro-location solutions and devices at a hardware and API level.

Contextual computing is now possible from both sides of the equation, from mobile devices to smart wearables to cheap broadcasting devices. iBeacon device makers such as Estimote, among many others, are building cheap and easy to deploy BLE broadcasting devices that developers can use in countless ways to deliver innovative proximity solutions. This along with mobile powered BLE devices will bring a new flock of creative solutions to the mobile app we use everyday and will allow merchants to deploy solutions and environments that will enable true contextual engagement and computing for mobile users.

I expect the Apple iBeacon standard to win out in the end and for all beacon device makers to certify their devices compatibly with the Apple iBeacon spec. And expect the same from SDK developers, who will insure their APIs work with iBeacon devices. Think of BLE as the alphabet and the iBeacon standard as the language that a new world of smart contextually aware devices will be using. The race is on to a world that will engage with you as you move through your day to day life.

At OfferDrop, our goal is to empower local merchants to make their establishments and venues contextual aware where they can engage with their customers and users to deliver better solutions and services while improving the customer experience.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Beacons are Popping Up Everywhere

Consumer level interview about beacon and mobile technology: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hoywCPyPh2M