Norway's Unacast a beacon for the future of advertising

    Even if you’re not bullish on any practical use of Bluetooth beacons, after meeting the founders of Oslo-based Unacast you’d probably want to put money into the company. With the cofounders working together at Norwegian music streaming service, WIMP, Kjartan Slette and Thomas Walle Jensen have taken their experience negotiating digital record deals (not the easiest market) and are now applying it to the beacon industry in a fast sales-first approach that’s honestly refreshing to see from a young startup. From day one they’ve sold the idea while putting together the pieces.

    The idea behind Unacast is that digital advertising is getting smarter and smarter. If you look online for a hotel to stay at in London, for instance, it’s not uncommon to see ads for hotels in London to pop up everywhere you look the next week or so. But these retargeting ads make assumptions only based on your online data – if advertisers could see that you’ve already traveled to London then there would be no need for retargeting, or it would open up smarter advertising opportunities.

    To commercialize beacon technology Unacast acts as the network that matches online and offline data through their proprietary algorithm, bringing together proximity companies and advertising networks for a higher ROI.

    “While retailers and brands are well served with platforms that enable online retargeting based on online data, this accounts for a maximum of 30 percent of a consumer’s awake time,” said Thomas Walle Jensen, CEO of Unacast. “The remaining 70 percent is spent offline, but until now, with the addition of hyper-local offline beacon data, they have had limited ability to adapt their advertising messaging and media spend accordingly.”

    To plug into more and more beacon information now Unacast announces they’ve partnered with Total Communicator Solutions, a California based company boasting a large beacon network everywhere from universities, hospitals, and convention centers which should expand their network of data input. Moving forward Unacast will need to make more of these connections, and bring more advertisers pulling data from their platform

    Real-world tracking for our advertising overloards brings up privacy concerns, but Unacast stresses that their data is anonymized with a “core principal that we never disclose recognizable customer data and the partners always retain full control over their own data sets,” and that they strictly follow EU data laws.

    But thinking about the future of advertising this is our brave new world – advertisers are going to know where we like to eat and where we go shopping in real life, instead what places we’ve clicked “like” for on Facebook. At least this should mean less “one weird trick” ads in my face, or even worse, ads for hotels after I’ve already booked one (which is strangely infuriating).