Interview w/ @Gimbal’s Kevin Hunter & Keri Danielski

Gail Chiasson, North American Editor

The Gimbal beacon, geared for mobile engagement, is not very old but it’s probably the most deployed beacon in North America.

Kevin Hunter

Kevin Hunter

And while it’s probably best known for its deployment by the OOH/DOOH industries, it’s now being used by others including the lighting industry. And Gimbal is already building additional improvements and extras into the Gimbal platform.

These are some of the facts we learned in a short interview with Kevin Hunter, Gimbal COO, this week.

Gimbal was initially the Qualcomm Retail Solutions Division but spun off into a totally separate company in May, 2014. The CEO, Rocco Fabiano, had been president of Qualcomm Retail Solutions Division. Hunter had headed product management at that division and was one of the founders of the beacons developed at Qualcomm Labs.

“We take a different approach with our beacons,” says Hunter. “Where others are just out there to sell their beacons, we want to build a scalable platform for venues such as retail, transit, museums and other verticals. We have huge flexibility.”

A lot of Gimbal’s efforts currently go towards educating what can be done with the Bluetooth smart beacons and how they can be used. When interviewed, Hunter and Keri Danielski, vice-president marketing and public relations, were just returning to Gimbal’s head office in San Diego from a trade show in New York, one of many where they demonstrate Gimbal beacons’ use.

“Recently, the Mayor of Los Angeles was involved in showing how the beacons can be used well by a city,” Hunter says. “There have been a lot of misconceptions about beacons in the past.” (Back in Oct./14, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio asked Titan to remove Gimbal beacons from several hundred phone booths that had been placed there ‘without consultation with citizens’.

This was despite the fact that the beacons were placed there for operational testing under approval by the city’s own agency, the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications.)

Keri Danielski

Keri Danielski

“Consumers are in control,” Hunter says. “They have to opt in on their mobile device to get location-based messaging for an offer or whatever the beacon is being used for. They don’t activate unless the consumer opts in. That was probably not well understood.”

But Gimbal beacons, which provide geofencing and analytics, are now beginning to get heavy use in various cities. Martin Outdoor Media is doing a test with them on bus benches in Los Angeles. Titan is doing a project using them at rail stations in Chicago. TouchTunes is now using them at its social venues.

Apple released Gimbal beacons in its stores. Major League Baseball in using them in all but two of its stadiums. Among museums, MoMA in New York is using them for a Bjork exhibit.

To quote from Gimbal’s own website: ‘Understanding who attends your events, not just who purchased tickets, and their specific interests and precise location in your venue allows you to more effectively engage with them in your stadium, arena, concert venue, or theater.’

Gimbal lets you provide a personalized mobile experience for each fan including: encouraging app engagement before, during, and after the event; delivering personalized greetings, interesting facts or history; directing fans to the shortest lines; and offering special access for sponsors.

Use at the retail level can, among other things, let the beacon owner welcome customers; offer them special deals or promotions; and customize shopping with information from the user’s account or loyalty status.

Japan is the other market outside the US where Gimbal beacons are strong. The giant ad agency Dentsu has several different apps linked to Gimbal beacon use in Tokyo.

“We are getting strong interest from the UK and Europe,”
says Hunter. “And people are now interested in installing our beacons into various products. We are currently dealing with a company that in interested in installing them into their lightbulbs.”

Gimbal has securities on top of all its beacon transmissions.

“This allows for digital ownership so there’s an opportunity for out-of-home new revenues,” says Hunter. “Secure transmissions offer an opportunity for beacon owners to ‘digitally own’ their beacon inventory, so they can securely share access to their partners for new revenue streams.

“Further, the antenna signals give a very clear transmission. They are reliable and this reduces operational costs.”

The Gimbal beacons also provide analytics, and users can look at the overall account as well as where their beacons are individually best performing.

The company has a self-service platform, and people can get Gimbal beacons directly through sale on the Gimbal website or large orders can be through direct sales from the company and its sales team. Gimbal beacons range in price from $5 to $30. The $5 beacon has a shorter battery life (batteries can be replaced) and a single antenna. More expensive beacons are geared for use both indoors and outdoors, unaffected by heat, cold and humidity, have a longer battery life and dual antennas. These are active within about 50 metres – as long as the consumer opts in.

The company is a member of TAB/OAAA.

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