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Mister Beacon Episode #77

Global Location Trends

July 03, 2018

Asif Khan, Founder and President of the Location Based Marketing Association (LBMA), defines location based marketing as the intersection of people, places, and media. Asif through the LBMA shares the best of what is possible and inspires companies to think differently about the technology available to them. On this episode of Mr. Beacon, we talk pilots, surveys, trends, and end with a 3 layer cake that reveals what is essential to an effective location based marketing solution.


  • Narration 0:07

    The Mr. Beacon podcast is sponsored by Wiliot. Scaling IoT with battery free Bluetooth.

    Steve Statler 0:16

    Welcome to the Mr. Beacon podcast, really excited, always excited. But especially this week, we've got Asif Khan, who's the founder and president of the Location Based Marketing Association, the LBMA. And he also wrote the foreword to book beacon technologies and had some really interesting words, say, on a metaphor, the three layer cake, and we should talk about that before we end the podcast. But first of all, can you just introduce the LBMA? For people that don't know who the LBMA are?

    Asif Khan 0:50

    Yeah, so the Location Based Marketing Association, where a global nonprofit trade association member base group, currently about 1400, member companies spread across 20 plus countries. So like most associations, we run a lot of events. We publish research, and really our core focuses is we represent both the brand side of in retailers and consumer facing brands that are trying to figure out how to use location, technology and data, as well as the providers of location technology and data. So our job is really to kind of bring those two groups together, drive innovation, testing pilots, and ultimately spend across the industry. And that's, that's really what we're focused on.

    Steve Statler 1:35

    And so what sort of pilots have you been involved in? And what is your involvement in these pilots, I've seen your presentation, you've really got it done a great job of capturing stuff that captures people's imagination. How do you do it?

    Asif Khan 1:48

    Yeah, so really, what we do is we my team, we meet every six, seven weeks or so we kind of talked about what new members have joined the organization, we talk about trends we're seeing in different parts of the world, and how location data is evolving, or technologies are evolving. And then we kind of brainstorm new ideas, new use cases that have never been done before. And then we kind of look within the member base and say, if we wanted to test this in the real world, what kind of members can we put together in a mash up? Experiment? So we'll look at and say, well, first of all, we need a retailer to give us five stores to run this test. We need a digital signage company, we need a beacon company, we need one of these, and we go find them within the member basin, put them all together and try something different, and publish the learnings.

    Steve Statler 2:29

    So what are some examples that you're most proud of, of those tests?

    Asif Khan 2:32

    I think, you know, at the core, when we talked about location based marketing, we talked about this intersection of people, places and media, and we talked about all media, print, radio, online, television, everything. And so you know, one of the things that we try really hard to do is to truly validate that across these experiments, so one of the proudest ones for me is this experiment we did several years ago now with Nivea. You know, the cosmetic brand, where they had a sunscreen product. And in Brazil, we created this kind of print ad, where we embedded a Bluetooth beacon in the print magazine, in the advertising. And so and then what you did was is you tore off the the end of the page, which is where the beacon was embedded, and he created a bracelet that you could put on your around your kid's wrist, and then you download an app. And then when you're at the beach, and your kid goes wandering off, you create sort of like a small geofence. And then you can kind of track where your how far your kids gone and running off. But an execution that starts in print advertising, yeah, ends up in a digital execution, you know, involving beacons mobile, and, you know, all that coming together. So I think that's one example. What was the response to that really, really positive? I mean, 1000s of downloads. I mean, it's, you know, we did it in a very test limited market. And we only put out 1500 of these magazines, because it's not cheap, right to do. But that's always our goal is not necessarily scalable, you know, mass executions, but just proving what's possible and inspiring companies to think differently about the technology that's available to them.

    Steve Statler 4:11

    Very good. So we're here in Brussels, geo IoT, or a regular fixture of the conference. We've had almost dueling tracks running while I've been running. The other one, and we're coming together, I think in later sessions. I'm guessing you've been talking about the survey results that you you've got from the survey that you mentioned earlier. Can you give us a snapshot of some of the things that you've learned from this year's survey?

    Asif Khan 4:39

    Yeah, so so this is the third year of the survey is called the Global location Trends report. We do it across our five biggest markets, which is Canada, the US, Germany, the UK in Singapore. And basically we generally ask the same set of questions so we can benchmark year over year growth. And our audience that we're serving our CMOS has a digital marketing cross the major brand. And, and so right now globally, we're looking at about 77% of marketers are already using location data, you know, to target and influence consumers that's up about 12%. From last year, so significant growth year over year. And what's really interesting, I think, is, is that a lot of that growth is coming from smart lighting, you know, kind of jumped out as an interesting application area, so about 7% growth year over year in the implementation of smart lighting systems, which speaks to I mean, within our member base, we have, you know, Philips and acuity and, you know, CERAM, and all these guys. So, you know, I think it's, we're interested to watch how that piece is going to evolve. You know, and kind of speaking to beacons, you know, I think, in some markets, some markets beacons are are still growing and other markets is really slowing down. Yeah. You know, like, in the US, for example, I would say that, you know, generally we're seeing a slowdown, at least in retail execution, around that which they're finding new markets for beacons, things like manufacturing, or automotive or other markets, I think we're seeing interesting applications there. Or I gave an example earlier of one of our members, blue.is is working with Transurban in Australia, and using beacons as the method for measuring tools on the highways, and things like that. So yeah.

    Steve Statler 6:24

    Fantastic. So how are things evolving in terms of your membership? How is your membership evolved over the years? How many years you've been going? Just over eight? That's a wall?

    Asif Khan 6:34

    Yeah. Yeah. So I think, for us, it's, you know, the, I would say, in general, the type of members, you know, we've always skewed heavily to, you know, consumer facing brands. So about 40% of the member base are on the brand side, the actual consumers of location, technology, and data. And the rest are obviously vendors providing solutions. And we've held that sort of split, you know, through all these years. What I think, for us is interesting is the growth is coming now in, you know, new markets that we have never operated in before. So we've recently, just in February, we opened a chapter in Tokyo. In the in November past, we opened in Prague, we're seeing a lot of interest coming out of Southeast Asia, we're about to go into Dubai, in India. So you know, like, kind of moving out of, I would say, you know, the English speaking, first markets that we've, you know, penetrated and kind of done very well. And now we're started branching into other markets. And I find that in these a lot of these emerging markets, like Southeast Asia, in particular, you know, they're when you look at things like beacon technology, for example, my my interpretation of that is, is that, you know, in a lot of these places, they're jumping to things like NFC or other. And a lot of it has to do with the penetration of Samsung versus Apple, you know, and the lack of support early on that Apple had for NFC, and things like that. So in a market like Singapore, where we've operated for six years now, you know, we that was clearly evident right from the beginning. And yet the government of Singapore is, is a heavy investor and location services and proponent of it. So, you know, they don't really care what flavor it takes, they just want to make sure it's embedded in everyday life.

    Steve Statler 8:21

    And so while it's a real sign of maturity, that you're spreading across these different geographies, and I'm sure you'll just have that broader net to cross pollinate the best ideas. We both got to get into sessions that are coming up. So I'm going to wrap it up. But before we go, can you just explain briefly, what's the three layer cake that you wrote about?

    Asif Khan 8:41

    Yeah, so this was a concept that we came up with, primarily for bricks and mortar retailers, because what we were seeing is I'd go in and talk to these guys. And they'd be like, What are you doing with location based marketing? And they would be You mean, like beacons? And I was like, yes, that is a part of it. But it's one slice of the location ecosystem. And so we felt this need to create a sort of a theory for them to think about the bigger location picture and building an investment strategy around that. So what the three layer cake is, is about the bottom of the cake is really about how do we drive traffic to the store in the first place? Because things like beacons or indoor solutions, in general are kind of pointless if there's nobody there. You got to get traffic there. Yeah, so geofencing local search, you know, you know, push, push messaging, you know, all these sort of location solutions that are really about traffic driving, you know, are really about the bottom of the cake. Once you have the traffic there, the middle of the cake is really about now how do we increase customer service, customer engagement, basket size, dwell time, and that's where the indoor micro location solutions become really important. Whether that's beacons or Wi Fi, or magnetics, or smart lighting or smart flooring or whatever it is, you know, I think that's, that's important. But the top of the cake is really the transactional piece. And that's been missing and still, to some extent missing from a lot of these solutions. So a lot of the guys who built these indoor platforms have not thought clearly about integration to CRM point of sale loyalty, you know, and tying those platforms together. Because if you have a beacon network, and you're gonna push somebody from a marketing point of view, some offer, you better know, when were they here last? How much did they spend last time they were here? How often are they here? These are questions that can be answered by the transactional data systems that sit at the top.

    Steve Statler 10:25

    Of course, that last step is so difficult, isn't it getting through all those POC point of sale vendors? They see themselves as gatekeepers, and they want to yes or no, right?

    Asif Khan 10:36

    I mean, more and more now we're starting to see that that closed loop come together, you know, guys like Adobe, and IBM, and Salesforce, and all these guys who are managing a lot of that data, and the credit card companies, Amex and others, you know, are either coming in to that layer and buying companies or partnering with companies to kind of solve those solutions? So that's, that's really what the cakes about it's how do we drive traffic? How do we then influence that traffic? And then how do we actually tie it back to transactions and sales?

    Steve Statler 11:05

    Yeah, it seems like a lot of the early successes in the beacon world, I look at companies like Shopkick, that got bought by a planet and in market who have just grown steadily through organic growth, no major investment, but they've got this amazing three sided network, but they're all getting people into the store. And I've been kind of frustrated. And I think they've all thought about and tried to do more of the engagement piece. But that's seems to be as an industry is the the beacon industry has underperformed, we've done, I think, a pretty good job of getting people in the store with gamification and the right message at the right time to the right person. But it just seems maybe it's because it's just operationally hard to get once you're in the store. Any thoughts on that? Yeah, maybe people are doing better than I think, are you seeing any light at the end of that time?

    Asif Khan 11:56

    Yeah, I think you know, what's really interesting from an engagement point of view is we've seen a big shift in sort of moving away from this kind of, just because somebody's here, we need to push them on offer. And instead, we know they're here. How do we just improve the experience for them, and a lot of that is relaying the data in real time to the staff, to the employees that are in the building. So they you know, like if you see, you know, there's 60 People in the women's shoe department at this store right now, but you've got one person working it, you know, that's not a good customer service ratio experience. So if the data can tell you that, and you can quickly send additional resources there, that alone improves the the experience, right? So I think finding ways to kind of improve the operational side using the data that then affects the customer experience, I think is where we see it going. And we're seeing more and more retailers wanting to kind of do that type of stuff.

    Steve Statler 12:51

    Do you see anyone working on concierge? And this is kind of one of these concepts where you know, the the sales assistant has the tablet in their hand, they greet you by name, they know about your purchase history. We've all sort of evangelize. Yeah. But people doing it.

    Asif Khan 13:05

    For sure. Nordstrom, in particular, does that really well in the US. You know, like I think that's more of a, we tend to see more of that in sort of luxury retail type of environments. But yeah, I mean, as far as big department store chain, you know, I would say they're at the top of the heap of that.

    Steve Statler 13:24

    Very cool. Well, if you want to hear more from Asif and I think you will, then you have a weekly podcast. Yes. It's great. If you want to keep up to date on the latest developments. He does an amazing job of calling the most interesting information about what's happening in the market what's happening in his membership, so I highly recommend that and of course, if you want to hear more about the three layer cake then buy the beacon technologies book and read his his foreword. Yeah, I see. Thanks so much.

    Asif Khan 13:53

    Thanks. Thank you. Yeah, and if I may, I actually have another my own book coming out. Oh, this fall. It's simply called people places media. So you just go to people places media.com.

    Steve Statler 14:03

    I'll buy it.

    Asif Khan 14:04

    Yeah. Well, you'll get a free one. Thanks.

    Steve Statler 14:16

    So Asif, what are the three songs that you would take with you to Mars?

    Asif Khan 14:20

    But I think the first one is Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven love it. Probably my second is really anything Bob Marley but like no woman no cry or something like that.

    Steve Statler 14:30

    All right.

    Asif Khan 14:31

    And then like you know, just like peaceful amazing grace or something nothing Canadian know like that. Well, I mean, I you know, there's so many great Canadian bands like Tragically Hip were rusher you know, folks like that that you know will be I think interesting.

    Steve Statler 14:47

    Okay, well put them on standby. Yes, yeah. Thank you very much.

    Asif Khan 14:50