Mobile's Last Inch: A Conversation With WirelessWerx
Today I had the chance to catch up with WirelessWerx, a company that brings more accurate location targeting in indoor or confined locations.
This can include hotels, casinos, grocery stores or city highrises. The idea is that GPS falters in such scenarios due to different altitudes and blocked satellite signals. The company got started with the problem of mobile 911 call accuracy but now, it’s also working with marketers and agencies that want to target users in such scenarios.
“GPS isn’t as good the further you get inside,” says Marc Fernandez, VP of business development. “But in those indoor situations, sometimes you need more precise location targeting.”
It works with Kroger grocery stores, for example, to pinpoint users in different aisles. It also works with the Hard Rock in Vegas and Westfield Malls among others, to promote different things to different users — filtered by where they’re standing and the products in which they’ve indicated interest.
So how does this all work? It piggybacks on the ubiquity of Bluetooth. In each of the above locations, it provides a network of Bluetooth nodes, which create triangulation fields to pinpoint mobile devices within inches. At the client level, its software is then baked into different applications or carrier software.
You may think this is too many moving parts for consumer adoption. This is less of a worry to Fernandez because he just supplies the underlying technology. WirelessWerx’s constituents are ad agencies that work with companies to mobilize these types of campaigns — a quickly growing area.
As part of these campaigns, agencies will build their clients mobile smartphone apps, such as Hilton’s Honors app. WirelessWerx’s software is built in, and the Bluetooth nodes exist throughout some of their hotels. Together, this creates the ability to reward members with different hotel promotions when they sign in, for instance.
Campaign dynamics aside, Fernandez also sees the day when it can be used for marketing tied to inventory management. This can be used to push promotions on months, days or hours where there is known to be surplus at a given location — not a new concept but one that gains relevance when it comes down to captive audiences.
This can include promotions where there are overshipments of Starbucks supplies, or unused seats at a restaurant. Fernandez gives the example of a concert at the Hard Rock in Vegas that’s only 60 percent sold out. Promotions can be pushed to hotel guests two hours before the concert who are sipping drinks by the pool.
Lots of moving parts to the technology, but once you consider that it gets installed within a confined environment, the dynamics and advantages of captive audience can be gleaned. I was a skeptic at first but am starting to let my mind wander on the possibilities.
One I’ll leave you with: The growth of check-in services like Foursquare and Brightkite has been rapid. But the monetization realities — such as charging for check-ins at an advertiser’s location — are tied to much better accuracy than currently exists.
A partnership between one of these providers and WirelessWerx can pull the pieces together for many of the national advertisers it’s already working with or talking to. We could see a partnership along these lines soon. That’s all I can say for now.