by Tom Kaneshige

Proximity-Based Advertising Closer Than You Think

News Analysis
Jan 22, 20152 mins

Proximity-identification and real-time targeted marketing are the future, and this u2018Minority Reportu2019 type advertising is coming soon thanks to mobile and biometric technology.

Credit: Thinkstock

In the futuristic movie “Minority Report,” Tom Cruise’s character, John Anderton, is on the run, pursued by police searching for him using super high-tech, privacy-invasive tools. Anderton has someone else’s eyeballs; you’ll have to see the movie to find out why.

A previous scene showed Anderton walking through a shopping mall and being bombarded with customized advertisements from wall screen displays. This time, as Anderton eludes police in a store, a wall screen display identifying him through a retinal scan cries out: “Hello, Mr. Yakamoto, and welcome back to the Gap!”

Mr. Yakamoto is the guy whose eyeballs Anderton now has in his eye sockets

Proximity identification and real-time targeted marketing are the future of advertising, but how far away is this? “Minority Report is absolutely doable,” says Paul Price, CEO of Creative Realities, a New York-based marketing technologies consultancy.

The key to this kind of advertising is biometric identification, says Price. In the physical proximity realm, sensor technology needs to identify someone by the gait of their walk, the five points of their face, fingerprints, palms or a retinal scan, before a targeted message can be delivered.

[Related: How to Attract Digital Natives to Buy at Retail Stores]

The more practical way today, though, is to identify someone close by through their mobile phone. Then a tailored marketing or customer service message can be sent to the phone.

It’s what Forrester CEO George Colony calls seizing “the mobile moment.”

Speaking at Dreamforce last year, Colony said he had walked into a hotel where he had reserved a room and received a message on his phone. The hotel had found him via location tracking and sent a message giving him all the details about his room. Colony didn’t need to go to the check-in desk, rather he headed straight to his room where an app unlocked the door.

Proximity identification and real-time targeted marketing can help all sorts of industries, not just hospitality and retail. Sports venues, museums, airports and casinos all stand to benefit, according to Choice Loans, a UK-based finance broker. Here is Choice Loan’s infographic primer on proximity marketing:

proximity infographic