The Hard Rock Cafe in San Francisco’s Pier 39 has decided that it wants to offer coupons to passersby. Rather than respectfully printing them out, or offering a mobile website or something, the restaurant has decided to partner with Intera Group to use Bluetooth Proximity Marketing. If you’re not familiar, that means that if you get within 200 ft. of the Hard Rock Cafe, and have Bluetooth on, you’re likely to get spammed with an unsolicited advertisement or coupon on your mobile phone. Lovely, eh?
The mobile advertising market is still rather new, and agencies are frantically trying different methods to find the best way to target users on their mobile handsets, which is viewed as the final frontier, more or less. Similar to those annoying people who stand outside of stores and cram a paper coupon into your hand, Intera’s system slaps you with a message ON YOUR MOBILE PHONE without asking if you want to be bothered, or even targeting you at all, other than the fact that you’re within 100 ft. of the restaurant.
The company gushes about their product (naturally), saying that Bluetooth is best because it’s free, supports all types of media (photos, videos, audio, etc), and best of all, it asks if you want the ad. Sure, it asks, but it’s still invading its way onto your phone in the first place. If you’re thinking it sounds OK, imagine walking through the mall, only instead of signs and ads everywhere, each is converted to a Bluespam message! You’re now completely unable to use your phone because of the annoying ‘friendly permission requests’ from all of the various stores, who know nothing other than that you are within range of their shotgun marketing tool.
This is a bad, bad idea. It’s also bad because it will condition consumers to simply turn their Bluetooth off completely, which prevents them from enjoying technology such as Bluetooth headsets. Attention Consumers: You can leave Bluetooth turned on, but keep it in ‘Hidden’ mode, or disable the ‘Discoverable’ option. This way, your phone will only be visible to devices, such as Bluetooth headsets, which you have pre-authorised. Don’t let one stupid marketing agency ruin your Bluetooth experience.