Free beacons are an extension of Facebook’s Place Tips feature
According to a recent update from Recode, Facebook (FB) is rolling out free Bluetooth beacon devices to retailers as part of its targeted advertising strategy. The company launched a feature named Place Tips in January 2015.
A beacon is a Bluetooth device that signals messages to a smartphone within a certain range of the device. The feature allows Facebook users to upload posts and photos of a specific location, say, for example, a retail shop or a restaurant. Place Tips works when the users are actually present at these locations, and now retailers can request a free beacon.
Target customers with the right Place Tips at the right time
With these beacons, businesses can send useful information to a Facebook user’s news feed when the user is within a set distance. The information could be about anything from upcoming events, to popular menu items and customer reviews on a particular product.
Retailers could benefit a great deal from enabling beacons through Facebook, as very few customers download a retailer’s own app. Via Facebook, these retailers can access a massive user base.
Beacons have gained popularity in the US
As the above chart shows, a recent survey conducted by BI Intelligence projects that the number of beacons installed in US stores will rise by 287% annually through 2018.
Along with Facebook, Apple (AAPL) and Twitter (TWTR) have also invested in this technology. Apple launched its own beacon technology—iBeacon—which is used by select McDonald’s restaurants and shops on London’s Regent Street. Twitter has invested in a startup named Swirl that specializes in beacon marketing.
Yelp (YELP) and FourSquare are two other companies that offer versions of Place Tips to highlight customer feedback and reviews. For portfolio exposure to Facebook, you could invest in the PowerShares QQQ Trust, Series 1 (QQQ). QQQ has 3.6% exposure to FB.