Home > Articles > Business & Management

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

Digital Proximity and Location-Based Marketing

Obviously, one of the most valuable aspects of mobile marketing is that the phone is with its owner all the time. Many brick-and-mortar stores may have had a hard time using the traditional Internet to drive foot traffic, but location-based marketing turns the tables and gives them an incredible opportunity to get people into stores (evaluated in the industry as cost per pair of feet, or CPPoF). Mobile promotions reach potential customers when they are most likely to make a purchase. Location-based services (LBS, sometimes also called near LBS, or NLBS) are digital systems that broadcast digital messages to enabled devices within a specific radius or proximity. According to Robert McCourtney, from Metamend, the following advantages can be seen from location and proximity marketing (paraphrased here):

  • A captured target—The consumer is already in or near your place of business. A customer is much more likely to come through your door if a competitor's store is a 20-minute drive away but your store happens to be right around the corner from where they are standing (and you have what they are looking for).
  • Increased impulse buying—Real-time delivery of advertising can prompt benefits of immediate response—for example, "Come in within the next 30 minutes and receive 20% off your meal."
  • Development of one-to-one relationship marketing—Consumer purchasing history can be examined, thereby enhancing future marketing messages.
  • Direct marketing spending effectiveness—True targeting of promotional materials, meaning materials are delivered electronically and on demand, as required. There's no hard copy waste or excess printing inventory.
  • Psychological nurturing—The consumer feels like a somebody, building brand recognition and loyalty.
  • Increased return on investment (ROI)—Repeat or additional consumer purchases during a visit. Time-based incentives or promotions can be sent to increase the total value of the sale.

Proximity and Location-Based Marketing Technology

For retailers, marketers, and independent advertisers, proximity and location-based marketing efforts generally leverage one of five technologies described in detail in upcoming sections of this chapter—Bluetooth, WiFi, infrared (IR), near field communication (NFC), and ultra-wide band signals (UWB).


Bluetooth technology uses radio bands to transmit signals to Bluetooth-enabled devices, including mobile phones, handheld computers, and laptops. With this technology, a small server can be placed in any location and set to send out coupons, barcodes, applications, vCards, vCal, video, MP3, MP4, and text messages (also known as BlueCasting). It generally works in a circular 100m radius, but like all signals, it can be hindered by thick concrete walls or other obstacles. Bluetooth marketing is generally used to simultaneously target shoppers in a retail location, as well as passersby outside the retail location (see Figure 6.4).

Figure 6.4

Figure 6.4 Small Bluetooth beacons can be placed just about anywhere—signs, posters, or kiosks, for example—and can broadcast coupons, barcodes, and more.

Bluetooth broadcasting systems can also be set up in posters or worn by promoters, to encourage passersby to enable their Bluetooth devices and download promotional information about a product or event. Some brands are even placing Bluetooth broadcasting systems in bars and clubs, and even at the beach or at music festivals to engage the local audience with mobile media and promotions. When the server is set up, it can be programmed either to broadcast the same message throughout the day or to broadcast different messages at different times of day.

All Bluetooth devices have specific numbers associated with them that never change. When a Bluetooth-enabled handset enters the range of the server, the server captures that number and information about the handset. It then queries a database to ascertain what, if any, communications have been sent to that device previously. The server then sends back content that has been optimized for that particular handset or particular user. Specific protocols and dependencies can be programmed into the system to determine what communication should be sent, and different messages can automatically be sent based on those dependencies.

The European chapter of the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) has set a list of Bluetooth marketing guidelines for the United States and Europe. These focus mostly on the opt-in process and how to ensure user privacy. The full set of guidelines is available here: http://bloo2.bluetooth-zone.info/files/Proximity-Marketing-Guidelines-V1.0_082808.pdf.


WiFi technology basically broadcasts and receives a short-range radio signal to provide Internet access for Web-and WiFi-enabled devices. Companies can use WiFi marketing in a couple different ways to create brand awareness.

You can broadcast a signal to send a message to potential customers in a particular radius, as described earlier with Bluetooth marketing. You can also take a more passive approach and send marketing messages over the WiFi signal while your potential customers access the Internet on their mobile phones or laptops. The simplest of these methods involves including marketing messages in the name of your WiFi network so that when potential customers select your network from the list of available networks, they see your marketing message. This is especially valuable if you suspect that customers are coming to your establishment to take advantage of the WiFi but are not purchasing items or driving any revenue for your company.

CoffeeCompany, a Holland-based chain of coffee shops, used WiFi router names such as OrderAnotherCoffeeAlready, BuyAnotherCupYouCheapskate, BuyaLargeLatteGetBrownieForFree, or TodaysSpecialEspresso1.60Euro. Although they have not yet reported any statistics, they believe that it was a good way to ensure that patrons understood that the WiFi was really not free, and they were expected to buy something.

Another way to use WiFi for your marketing efforts is to create a sponsored WiFi system in which people who login are presented with an advertisement that they must watch before they are given full access to the Internet. The WiFi network operator can also set time limits on the use of the WiFi so that people who use the Internet are prompted to watch another advertisement after they have been online for a certain amount of time. This type of marketing is commonly used in airports and business parks, which have a captive audience of people who want to access the Web.

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)

RFID technology allows items to be "tagged" to or tracked using radio waves. The tags are very small and require no batteries, so they are frequently used for product tracking and asset management. RFID chips can also be used to store and send information from static displays or posters to phones that are capable of reading an RFID signal. For marketing purposes, RFID is usually used with devices that send a radio frequency to the chip, activating it so that it may pass a message, much like in a Bluetooth transmission. The message can be a URL, phone number, email address or a promotion code.

Near Field Communication (NFC)

Near field communication relies on high-frequency messages to be sent and received from two enabled devices, each sending its own signal. Near field–enabled devices can be used like smart cards that are waved over a reader, but in a marketing scenario, the mobile device is waved over a poster or other off-line marketing material. This type of smart card technology is already widely used in cards that allow people to access locked buildings or garages, in many public transportation systems, and as a form of payment at some stores.

The main way mobile marketers are using this technology is by embedding chips into billboards and displays (see Figure 6.5). The range of NFC is much shorter than Bluetooth, reaching only about an inch and a half, so the person receiving the marketing message must swipe their phone over the sending technology to receive the message. NFC is already being used widely in Japan, where users can pay for goods by swiping their phones over a receiver at a register. Many anticipate that this technology will be widely used for mobile ticketing, mobile payment, personal identification and even used to turn a mobile phone into a building or garage access key.

Figure 6.5

Figure 6.5 An RFID tag used at Walmart. Image under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2.

Ultra-Wide Band (UWB)

Ultra-wide band communication uses a large portion of the radio spectrum to transmit broadband communication at a short range, requiring very little radio energy. Ultra-wide band transmissions can share a variety of different narrow band radio signals without interfering with those transmissions. Its uses are very similar to those of Bluetooth technology, but it is less widely adopted.

InfraRed (IR)

Infrared is one of the oldest and most limited forms of broadcasting mobile messages. It was tested in the early 1990s but has limited range, reaching only about a foot from the broadcasting beacon. Some laptops and phones are equipped with infrared technology, but it has not been universally adopted by handset manufacturers. These limitations make infrared less desirable than other more universally accepted technologies available.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020