First Insight Asks the Wrong Questions about Beacons

First Insight Asks the Wrong Questions about Beacons

Most people don’t care if the ads they see around the web are programmatic, or site direct. Why should they care? They’re much more interested in the end result, because that’s what they see.

Asking someone if they’ve ever interacted with a beacon is like asking them if they’ve ever seen a programmatic ad. Why should they care? And even if they did care, how should they know?

This concept is completely ignored by First Insight, a consumer analytics firm that today released its August 2015 Consumer Survey Report gauging the evolving in-store experience. In particular, the firm asked consumers about beacon technology, and announced that 70% of consumers have never heard of the technology, while 3.4% have never engaged with a beacon in-store.

Take these results with a grain of salt. The real question for First Insight is this: How should a consumer know what technology triggers a message on their phone?

It’s likely that the majority of these respondents have received a push message before. And consumers can’t tell if push messages have been triggered by beacons, or not. In fact, VentureBeat astutely points this out:

To be fair to beacons, I asked First Insight chief marketing officer Jim Shea: Couldn’t this simply reflect the fact that consumers don’t know what pegs their location for the coupon sent to their smartphone while they’re standing in the games aisle?

Yes, he admitted.

What First Insight should have asked is how many consumers have received a place-based engagement on their phones — either while in a store, at a stadium, at the museum, etc. This would give us a better idea of how many folks have actually received a proximity message.

But it still wouldn’t tell us how many folks have engaged with a beacon.

Beacons, like many other proximity technologies, enable apps to engage consumers based on where they are. As such, consumers have little reason to care about which technology performs the task. They just care about the end experience, regardless of how it’s triggered. We all need to be thinking less about beacon tech itself and more about what we can do with it.