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Sunday, 04 March 2007 14:00

Getting close to customers with bluetooth

Two of the hottest concepts in marketing are 'proximity marketing' and hypertags, and underpinning both is the bluetooth short range wireless technology.

With most new cellphones supporting bluetooth, it provides a perfect channel to deliver a whole range of information in a multitude of situations.

Ford Australia is exploiting the technology to the max on its stand at the 2007 Melbourne International Motor Show at Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre by creating four separate interactive Bluetooth zones on its stand to promote four separate vehicle categories: small cars, medium to large family sedans, utes and SUVs.

Each of the four interactive zones has been created using a Hypertag, a bluetooth/infrared base station supplied by marketing company Aura Interactive. These enable visitors to download onto their mobile phone a series of animations, videos, ringtones, wallpapers and m-vouchers specific to each of the vehicle categories.

According to Adam Dunne, director of sales & marketing at Aura, "Hypertags are short-range wireless devices mounted into each of the Ford information booths, which send information to mobile phones via Bluetooth and infra-red. By activating the Bluetooth or infra-red capabilities on their mobile and standing near the Hypertag, consumers can choose to download free mobile content and Ford information about the specific vehicle they are looking at and interested in."

Aura claims that the range of each Hypertag has been set to ensure that visitors receive an invitation to request information from each sector as they move around the stand. Ford deployed the technology at both Sydney and Brisbane motor shows and generated over 18,400 interactions during these shows, according to Aura.

A trial by Hoyts of the Aura technology has been so successful that The cinema chain is revamping its advertising practices as a result, according to a report in The Australian.

The company had trialled bluetooth technology at four cinemas as a means off offering visitors, via their mobile phone movie trailers and discount vouchers and achieved its response target for the three month trial in just two weeks, the report said.

Aura has rolled out 100 Bluetooth zones in high pedestrian traffic areas around Australia and, according to The Australian, is planning a national network of bluetooth hotspots that would enable people to download advertising content to their bluetooth phones.

Well, it could take off and become really big, or we could all get so fed up of being invited to receive this or that offer everywhere we go: down the street, in the shopping mall, into a stored that we tune out and turn off.

Incidentally there is nothing new in this concept. It was devised and tried by Ericsson, one of the co-developers of bluetooth, and if Ericsson's vision had been realised we would all be downloading content to our bluetooth phones today and the lexicon of the digital age would have a new word for a new activity: 'blipping'.

In March 2001 Ericsson announced plans for a global rollout of Bluetooth Local Infotainment Point (BLIPs), quoting Merrill Lynch estimates that 80 percent of mobile phones sold would support bluetooth by 2003. Peter Lundin, managing director of venture BLIP at Ericsson Business Innovation, predicting that "in only a few years time 'blipping' while on the move will be as common as home surfing is today".

That idea did not last long. By the end of 2001 Ericsson had decided to focus only on the Japanese market, saying: "Ericsson sees an exciting future for proximity services, however this future is further ahead than we previously have thought. This is partly due to the delayed introduction for WAP over Bluetooth in mobile phones and partly because of the threshold of usage for mobile Internet services.

Bluetooth is now widespread in cellphones as is usage of Internet from cellphones so if Ericsson was at least partly right, maybe now's the time to revive BLIP.

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