Could Bluetooth Kill Mobile Marketing?

Between the announcement of the mobile marketing success of the Robin Hood campaign and the alliance of MobiBlitz and 72 of our country’s shopping malls I am beginning to get a little worried.

You see whenever I tell someone I am writing a book about mobile marketing (a regular consumer, not someone in the industry) almost without fail they comment under their breath about how horrible it will be when their phones are inundated with unwanted marketing messages. Usually they actually even cringe.

Of course I tell them right away that the Mobile Marketing Association has their back. “Mobile marketing must be done with permission.” I tell them. “Businesses will invite you to participate and it will be entirely your decision to join in.” Only then do they stop making faces.

However, the way that Bluetooth campaigns are typically launched that is not the case. Whenever someone comes within range of a Bluetooth transmitter and they have their Bluetooth device on they receive an invitation asking them if they want to receive a message.

The consumer can, of course, say no and that is where the Bluetooth proponents claim that permission is granted or denied. The problem is that first message asking permission is NOT requested. Consumers will see that as annoying, interruptive and exactly what they want to avoid happening on their phone.

Consumers will learn quickly that if they just keep their Bluetooth off when they go into malls they will be safe from this interruption. Unfortunately they may also shy away from other forms of true permission based mobile marketing because they won’t know the difference between an unwanted Bluetooth query and an opt-in text message.

Businesses who try Bluetooth marketing will also be disenfranchised with mobile because it won’t work the way they were hoping or expecting. Unfortunately they may also shy away from other forms of mobile marketing which could be more cost effective and get better results.

I strongly advocate that Bluetooth campaigns be 100% permission based. Use signage to create a Mobile Zone. Consumers can then purposely step inside the mobile zone, turn on their Bluetooth and receive the content the business wants to share. Granted, this will change the strategy behind Bluetooth marketing, but I think it should. For the sake of all mobile marketing. And consumers sanity.