Facebook eyes beacon technology

Sarah Homewood
By Sarah Homewood | 3 February 2015

Social network Facebook has installed beacons in eight locations in New York City as part of its service “Place Tips,” which aims to alert Facebook's 1.3 billion members to information about their surrounding location.

The service pushes information derived from a beaconed locations Facebook page, to the top of a user's Facebook news feed on their smartphone.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Facebook could one day sell ads tied to the information, giving the network another way to make ads more personal, and potentially relevant.

No big brands are involved as yet, however the beaconed locations include the Strand Book Store, The Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridien Hotel and Dominique Ansel Bakery, inventor of the “cronut.”

An announcement from the social networking site outlined that when you tap on place tips, you’ll see a series of cards with information about the place you’re at. If you choose to view place tips, you’ll find things like posts and photos your friends have shared with you about that place.

Andrew Davis, COO and co-founder of contact-less communications business Tapit, told AdNews that this development from Facebook could really launch beacons into mainstream usage, because one of the main limitations with beacon technology is that brands need to have their own app, as well as get their customers to download it.

“In order for brands to use beacons they need to have their own app, but with Facebook using beacons, Facebook becomes the master app for businesses to piggy back off,” Davis said.

Davis also explained that much like with news gathering, this is also good for the social networking giant because it just collates the content but it still gets to own the browser experience by keeping the user within its app environment.

In the future Davis also highlighted that: “Whose to say that Facebook and brands couldn't take this to the next level by allowing tractions within the Facebook environment?”

“At the moment it is (the trial) pretty low-key, the trial is taking place in areas where there is no threat, such a book store and a museum.

“As part of this trial then Facebook gets the data and they can then branch out into a deeper commercial agenda, particularly with data because they can tell a business that they had a customer looking at a certain product at a certain time, and if that brand isn't interested in working with Facebook's data they can always take it to that businesses competitor,” he said.

The trial is just taking place in the US with no plans for anything to take place locally as of yet.

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