Facebook’s Free Beacons: The Next Ray of Light in Mobile Marketing?
Facebook’s Free Beacons: The Next Ray of Light in Mobile Marketing?

Beacons to change things up for brands using Facebook.

Facebook is providing advertisers with a new “beacon” of hope in mobile marketing capabilities. As an extension of the Place Tips feature, an iOS update rolled out in January that allows users to receive posts and photos from their friends about a specific restaurant or retailer when they open the app within the location, Facebook is now offering new options called beacons to participating businesses for free.

Consisting of small devices that can send a signal to a person’s smartphone with promotions and deals once he/she comes within certain proximity of a given business, beacons mark the launch of Place Tips to the mainstream market. Since the beginning of the year, Facebook has been testing Place Tips to a select sampling of businesses and landmarks, primarily in New York, including Central Park and Times Square. This week, Facebook announced it was expanding the feature to all businesses in the country and with it, the ability for each brick and mortar store of a brand to request a free beacon.

And while retailers don’t yet have the chance to advertise through Place Tips, it’s clear to see the feature won’t remain organic and purely social for long. An article on the announcement by Recode.net stated, “Facebook has designed its own beacon, which is being produced by an external manufacturer. Beacons aren’t expensive, but it’s still noteworthy that Facebook is willing to produce and distribute these beacons for free.” In other words, Facebook wants ads worked into the model ASAP.

Facebook has long held the reigns as the social media platform with the most geo-targeted ad capabilities, and their recent efforts in geolocation services (Place Tips included) have been wholly geared toward the company’s growing mobile user base. Nearly 1.2 billion people access Facebook from a mobile device each month, up roughly 26 percent from a year ago. Adding location-specific ads and push notifications to their eventual offerings will only reinforce Facebook’s place as the undisputed titan of targeting.