Google has been offering a pilot program to some companies over the past few months, called Project Beacon. It’s a way of harnessing the technology of mobile search and to help support local businesses in attracting potential customers to their location.
Project Beacon is a new test program whereby Google will send ‘beacons’ to businesses with a physical location to make their site more visible to customers with mobile devices. These beacons are small transmitters that send one-way signals that are read by customers’ phones. This location information can then be used across a wide range of services on mobile phones.
Beacons help mobile devices determine a user’s location more accurately. As a result, when a user’s smartphone has a better understanding of their location, participating companies can unlock a wide range of new features, and set up their business to use location-related features across Google, such as:
- Help their business show up on personal maps or saved places, where users have opted in to Location History.
- Gather photos, reviews, and other user-generated content for their business from people who’ve actually visited the location.
- Provide features like popular times and typical visit duration to help customers plan their visit to the business.
- Help provide Location Insights about how customers engage with the store.
The features available to a business will depend on the number of users that visit the location, as well as visit durations, size of venue, and other factors. The data shown in Google’s products is based on anonymous, aggregated visit statistics so that it’s not possible to tie a particular visit back to an individual and Google follows industry best practices to ensure the privacy of individual users.
At present the Project Beacon pilot is available to selected businesses in the US and UK and there is no cost currently being charged. In order to take part in the trial, businesses must first receive (or request) a beacon from Google.
If you’d like to know more about this trial program and how it might help your local business marketing, please get in touch.