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Boston local merchants drive foot traffic with beacon-enabled Howler app

By
April 21, 2015

The Howler app delivers nearby offers using beacons

The Howler app delivers nearby offers using beacons

In Boston, 150 local merchants including Grindr, Patty Chen’s Dumpling House and Sofa Cafe are delivering offers to passersby via beacon technology and the Howler mobile application, driving 52 percent of recipients into a venue.

Howler teamed up with beacon technology company Kontakt.io to deploy 600 beacons in restaurants, grocery stores, boutique, gyms and malls in the Boston area. Results include that 89 percent of people who receive an ad through Howler interacted with it.

“It’s all about presenting the right context for the right content to drive immediate action,” said Trevor Longino, head of marketing and public relations at Kontakt.io. “Beacons give applications a power efficient way to get the proximity data that they need in order to create that context.

“By being longer range than NFC and less energy drain than GPS, it hits that ‘Goldilocks zone’ of functionality that’s just right between the two extremes,” he said.

Driving relevancy
By delivering offers based on where a user is as well as their behavior within the app, Howler aims to make local offers more relevant for consumers.

Howler claims to have the largest deployment of beacons per area in Boston. The app uses an algorithmically-based system that presents users with ads that are relevant to their interests and are based off of where they are in the real world at that exact moment.

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Users choose which deals they want. Every time users pass a relevant store, they receive a tailored notification called a howl.

An example of a message that might be sent would be, “Buy an entree, get one free.”

To redeem an offer, it is presented on the phone inside the venue.

Motivational threshold
The motivation threshold to buy is much lower when an offer is targeted at a user’s interests and when that user is in front of the store, per Kontakt.io.

Merchants receive insights into how recipients are viewing their ads and how they are reacting to them so marketing efforts can be optimized.

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Howler hopes to pick up from Groupon, LivingSocial, Foursquare and others who have tried to combine mobile and offers for local merchants by leveraging beacon technology to take these offers to the next level.

Local beacon programs
Howler is the latest of several regionally based beacon programs for local merchants.

In Atlanta’s Midtown district, local merchants are leveraging Sionic Mobile’s Ion Loyalty and Rewards app as well as beacons to deliver promotions, reward customers and accept mobile payments (see story).

Last fall, approximately 1,000 merchants using First Data’s Perka mobile loyalty solution received free beacons so that customers could automatically check in, get credit for their purchase and earn rewards (see story).

The Union Square Loyalty Coalition in New York is being spearheaded by LoyalBlocks, helping participating merchants to use beacon technology to send personalized deals and earn rewards across multiple locations (see story).

Howler is currently being launched in Las Vegas and is in the process of partnering with businesses in New York City and San Francisco.

“There are plans to implement the strategy in a number of major cities all across the U.S.,” Mr. Longino said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is senior editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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