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 :)

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