7buzzwordProximity marketing is the localized wireless distribution of advertising content associated with a particular place. Transmissions can be received by individuals in that location who wish to receive them and have the necessary equipment to do so.

Distribution may be via a traditional localized broadcast, or more commonly is specifically targeted to devices known to be in a particular area. The location of a device may be determined by:

  • A cellular phone being in a particular cell;
  • A Bluetooth or Wi-Fi device being within range of a transmitter;
  • An Internet enabled device with GPS enabling it to request localized content from Internet servers;
  • A NFC enabled phone that can read a RFID chip on a product or media and launch localized content from Internet servers.

Marketing messages can be further targeted to specific groups within a given location, for example, content in tourist hot spots may only be distributed to devices registered outside the local area. Messages can be both time and place specific, e.g. content at a conference venue may depend on the event in progress.

Uses of proximity marketing include distribution of media at concerts, information (web links on local facilities), gaming and social applications, and advertising.

Bluetooth-based systems

Bluetooth is one transmission medium used for proximity marketing. The process of Bluetooth based proximity marketing involves setting up Bluetooth "broadcasting" equipment at a particular location and then sending information, which can be text, images, audio or video to Bluetooth enabled devices within range of the broadcast server. Other standard data exchange formats such as Vcard can also be used. This form of proximity marketing is also referred to as close range marketing.

It used to be the case that due to security fears, or a desire to save battery life, many users keep their Bluetooth devices in OFF mode, or ON but not set to be 'discoverable'. Because of this, often regions where Bluetooth proximity marketing is in operation it is accompanied by advising via traditional media - such as posters, television screens or field marketing teams - suggesting people make their Bluetooth handsets 'discoverable' in order to receive free content - this is often referred to as a "Call-to-Action." A 'discoverable' Bluetooth device within range of the server is automatically sent a message asking if the user would like to receive the free content.

Current mobile phones usually have Bluetooth switched ON by default and a majority of users now leave Bluetooth switched on for easy connection with car kits and headsets.

Some implementations of Bluetooth proximity marketing require users to run Java applications on their phones to enable them to receive content. This has the advantage that only those who choose to will receive content. Others require no handset-side software.

The diversity of mobile phones is huge. Screen sizes and supported file formats varies greatly. To obtain the optimal user experience with Bluetooth Marketing, the Bluetooth system must be able to automatically recognize phone models and deliver the proper content automatically.

NFC-based systems

Near Field Communication (NFC) tags are embedded in the NFC Smart Poster, Smart Product, Smart Book. The tag has a RFID chip with an embedded command. The command can be to open the mobile browser on a given page or offer. Any NFC-enabled phone can activate this tag by placing the device in close proximity. The information can be anything from product details, special accommodation deals, and information on local restaurants.

Proximity Marketing Strategy using NFC Technology has been widely adopted in Japan and uses pull rather than push marketing allowing the consumer the choice of where and when they receive marketing messages.

There are a number NFC-enabled phones entering the market spurred by NFC mobile wallet trials globally. NFC wallets include the Google Wallet and ISIS (mobile payment system). While mobile payment is the driver for NFC, proximity marketing is an immediate beneficiary.

GSM-based systems

Proximity Marketing via SMS relies on GSM 03.41, which defines the Short Message Service - Cell Broadcast (SMS-CB), allowing messages, such as advertising or public information, to be broadcasted to all mobile users in a specified geographical area. In the Philippines, where by the way, there is the world's highest traffic of SMS, GSM-based proximity broadcast systems are used by select Government Agencies for information dissemination on Government-run community-based programs to take advantage of its reach and popularity - also used for commercial service known as Proxima SMS. (Source: Wikipedia)

By MediaBUZZ