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Will Bluetooth Become a Sweet Tooth for Marketers?

Now that over 60% of new mobile devices are Bluetooth enabled, marketers have an opportunity to leverage Bluetooth or proximity marketing to enhance or extend customer communications and / or campaigns.

What is Bluetooth?

Bluetooth is an international wireless radio communication standard used primarily for mobile wireless headsets. Think of Bluetooth as a super short wave radio station – it only works in small localized areas. Bluetooth is also operator / network independent.

How does it work?

Marketers set up Bluetooth transceivers in an area – usually a store, event, mall, or anywhere people congregate.

When somebody with a Bluetooth enabled mobile device walks within 100 meters of your transceiver – they’ll receive a message on their mobile device seeking permission to engage.

If accepted, the person can receive a text based message – like “come to super coffee shop and get a free muffin,” or “fill out our application and we’ll give you a canned ham.”

You can also use Bluetooth to send other types of media messages – such as an image (coupon? Product shot?) Or even audio or video – such as a movie preview or product demo.

Unlike SMS, MMS, and mobile web, there is no user fee attached to receiving a Bluetooth message – unless the message drives the user to something that requires data or initiates an SMS / MMS.

You can setup the campaign so that the person only receives one message request within a period of time. This is helpful for those who may add a Bluetooth transceiver at a booth near a beer stand during a sporting event.

If the person declines the incoming message, they will not be contacted again for 24 hours.

Barriers to Bluetooth

Mobile devices must have Bluetooth enabled on their device for the messaging to work. This is not a default setting with most devices. In some cases, the user also has to specify that their device can be “discoverable” even if Bluetooth is already enabled.

Although the medium is permission based, there is the potential for Bluetooth messaging to be perceived as spam.

South Africa has embraced Bluetooth

South Africa is a leader in Bluetooth marketing where over 30 regional malls, an international airport and over 40 other independent locations are fully Bluetooth enabled. A friend of mine working in South Africa indicated that she even gets Bluetooth messages confirming cash withdrawals from the ATM machines there!

Petros Kondos, the co-founder and CEO of Wireless Customer Interactive Technologies, estimates that over 60,000 Bluetooth interactions occur each month in South Africa. There are just over 20 million active mobile users today in South Africa (about the same as Canada). 

There have already been some Bluetooth enabled campaigns in Canada – most notably by Zoom media who installed transceivers in restaurant and club bathrooms in Toronto to create a conversation for those who are doing their business with Bluetooth enabled devices…

And you thought a stranger talking to you in the bathroom stall beside you was awkward 🙂


  1. Scott Armstrong
    Scott Armstrong April 21, 2008

    Along with Zoom media, great little Canadian entrepreneurial agency call UrbanDNA has been running bluetooth campaigns for clients like Rogers.
    Great medium but I think like SMS campaigns we are still looking to find the big ideas on strategic implementation.

  2. Stephane Faucompre
    Stephane Faucompre May 1, 2008

    Bluetooth marketing is a great opportunity for Mobile Marketing.
    A lot of marketers now prefer Bluetooth campaigns for its proximity, compare to SMS…
    Adding the fact that, there is no operation fees [Sender and Receiver], the Bluetooth Marketing is definitely THE solution to easily reach its target for less money.

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