Forbes declared 2015 \u201cthe year of the mobile beacon.\u201d A recent survey from beacon platform inMarket (verified by comScore) shows 38 percent of U.S. Millennial mothers can now be reached through beacons in retail locations.\n\nOn July 14, Google announced its open-source beacon format, Eddystone\u2014a promising competitor to Apple\u2019s leading iBeacon platform. Even Facebook has kicked off a pilot program, Place Tips, that enables brick-and-mortar stores to transmit information to shoppers\u2019 FB News Feeds via beacons.\n\nAccording to a Forrester survey, 4 percent of mobile marketing executives were using beacons for \u2018proximity marketing\u2019 purposes in 2014, with 30 percent planning to use them this year. And a fall 2014 Harris poll found that 57 percent of U.S. smartphone owners were aware of in-store beacons, and 20 percent had already used them, eMarketer reports.\n\nIn short, beacons have traction.\n\nMany enterprises are busily installing Bluetooth Low Energy 4.0 beacons throughout their locations. Beacons communicate wirelessly with consumers\u2019 smartphones. The goal: To automatically send promotions, coupons, offers, and location-relevant information to opt-in consumers while they\u2019re at a physical site and are therefore more likely to appreciate and act upon those offers.\n\nSome shining beacon examples:\n\n* Retailers are using beacons as a way to bring online shoppers back into stores. Macy\u2019s has been among the pioneers, installing more than 4,000 beacons in nearly 800 stores before the 2014 holiday season and partnering with the Shopkick mobile app to deliver location-based offers. Shopkick is also partnering with Target, Old Navy and other retailers and was acquired last year by SK Planet, a division of South Korea\u2019s largest mobile carrier.\n\n* Travelers at London\u2019s Gatwick Airport can opt to be identified by their smartphone via beacons, mobile app, geofencing and other technologies. In exchange, they receive turn-by-turn directions to their gate, with dining and shopping opportunities pointed out along the way, according to The Wall Street Journal.\n\nThe Journal also reports that San Francisco International Airport has installed 350 beacons in Terminal 2 and \u201cis testing an app that can give visually impaired passengers audible directions,\u201d and that Miami International Airport is testing beacons to track how long passengers wait for baggage.\n\n* Beacons are being tested in museums such as London\u2019s Victoria and Albert Museum and New York\u2019s Metropolitan Museum of Art to help visitors learn about exhibits and engage more with the museums.\n\n* Festivals and special events, such as Austin\u2019s SXSW and the Coachella music festival, are increasingly deploying beacons on site to feed visitors location-relevant information and offers.\n\nBeacons, in combination with enterprise branded mobile apps and other technologies (such as on-site Wi-Fi networks), are gaining traction because of the benefits they provide enterprises that deploy them.\n\nFor example, a Hillshire Brands promotion launched on the inMarket beacon platform fueled a 20 percent increase in purchase intent, according to the company. Macy\u2019s beacon strategy played no small role in helping the retailer grow its \u201cbrand value\u201d by 383 percent from 2013 to 2014, according to an Interbrand report. Business Insider predicts beacons will directly influence $4 billion in sales among leading retailers this year and $44 billion in 2016. A November 2014 Swirl Networks, Inc. study show the impact of beacon-based marketing campaigns on consumers (see below).\n\nAside from the potential in sales increases, beacons coupled with loyalty programs and mobile apps can help marketers better understand what customers do in their stores or locations; what interests them and what doesn\u2019t; and much more.\n\nNeedless to say, not all consumers love the idea of being tracked as they move through a store or other site. Brands are likely to abuse the privilege, too, overwhelming consumers with too many alerts and coming off as creepy instead of helpful. \u201cToo many brands want to know who is in the store, but lack a strategy to act on that information,\u201d notes Forrester analyst Julie Ask.\n\nDespite these potential setbacks, a number of startups in the mobile beacon\/proximity marketing space are gaining traction, including Swirl Networks, Inc., which has reportedly received $32 million in series A through C funding; Gimbal, a Qualcomm-incubated startup that\u2019s now a standalone company; and Mobiquity, with $28 million from five funding rounds.\n\nEditor\u2019s note: Traction Watch is a new column focused obsessively on growth, and is a companion to the DEMO Traction conference series, which brings together high-growth startups with high-potential customers. The next DEMO Traction will take place in Boston on September 16, 2015. 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