Mac's Convenience Store Install Bluetooth-Powered Marketing

QUEBEC, Canada -- iSign Media Corp. made an arrangement with Pinpoint Media Group to provide proximity marketing at the 1,400 Mac's convenience store locations across Canada, according to a report by The IBM partner makes passive Bluetooth devices with software that can send a multimedia transmission directly to any smartphone that's in range and has its Bluetooth chip turned on, and this is the approach the c-store chain is taking, the report stated.

iSign's hardware will be deployed onto Pinpoint Media Group's digital signage footprint in Quebec first and then Ontario later this year, and plans for each store to have one 32-inch screen in the store aisles and two 17-inch screens near the point of sale, Enmanuel Rumbos, president of the Toronto-based firm said in the report.

"Nobody will do something for nothing," he said in the report. "If you can tailor a message on digital signage and provide them with information, then you tell them to look at your mobile device to find a coupon."

Direct messages will be sent directly to smartphones without pairing, except for BlackBerrys, whose owners will need to accept a pairing request and enter in a pass code (the universally used 0000) to receive the coupons, according to the report.

"Picture it as a perimeter fence determined by the range set on the Bluetooth dongle, which is about 150 to 200 meters" Rumbos said in the report. Once that fence is breached by a mobile device that has Bluetooth, the solution picks them up."

The message transmitted could be a bar code, QR code, or other types of multimedia to be scanned at the point-of-sale, and the device will keep some basic analytic information such as the make and model of the smartphone, what time the message was sent, and whether it was accepted or rejected, the report stated.

The dongles can also recognize a returning customer by referencing its database for the smartphone's Bluetooth Media Access Control (MAC) address. Using that database to build intelligent customer profiles is a distinct possibility down the road, Romanov said in the report.

"This person comes in every Wednesday and always go for a Coke product," he said. "Give them a special offer and see if they bite on a six pack."

The technology protects privacy because it doesn't log any personal details about an individual, Romanov said. Other mobile marketing methods would require a phone number to send a SMS message, or an e-mail address.

Quebec locations will get the Bluetooth dongles by end of 2011's first quarter, Rumbos said in the report.

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