I recently read an article that discusses how bluetooth marketing has been excluded from requiring Opt-In permission by ICO in the UK.
I’ve recently experimented with some bluetooth marketing, and whilst I am against spam via email etc, I do see some differences in the bluetooth approach.
Bluetooth vs Email or SMS Marketing
1. The message isn’t stored in the phone unless the consumer accepts it.
2. If they do nothing, the message disappears within 60-120 seconds on it’s own, as if it was never there, so it’s quite common they weren’t even aware of the message in the first place. I noticed most Nokia phones don’t vibrate or have an option to vibrate when a bluetooth request is received, so it’s not as intrusive as SMS as it behaves differently from what I have seen.
3. It is quite easy for anyone to either switch their bluetooth off or hide their phone from being ‘advertised’ via bluetooth to avoid any unsolicited messages, which I believe is quite adequate for managing whether people want to receive bluetooth marketing or not. I disagree with the analogy of having your phone number listed in the phonebook vs having bluetooth on to receive messages. You can’t disable your phone listing momentarily, though you can disable bluetooth as needed. People turn their mobiles off when going into hospitals, aeroplanes, and use silent mode in meetings, movies etc, why should bluetooth be any different? There’s no reason to have bluetooth on and discoverable unless you want to receive messages. There’s no detriment to the user experience if they still want to receive messages from friends which should be paired devices anyhow, so being hidden wouldn’t have a negative effect on that.
Though the only negative side I can see is if everyone was using bluetooth marketing, then it would become ineffective a walk in a shopping centre would illicit dozens of messages every few minutes as you approach more bluetooth marketing zones. Most phones haven’t been designed to handle multiple simultanoeus incoming connections (on the user interface side anyhow).
Some suggestions that may be useful though would be to have a code of conduct on how bluetooth marketing is used, such as maximum number of communication attempts per device, and minimum intervals between attempts to avoid bombardment etc. Alternatively, if the protocol was enhanced to allow the consumer to browse a list of ‘advertisers’ in their proximity, then they could opt to choose who to allow receieving messages from, which would be a once-off per advertiser/location. If they make no preference, then they don’t receive any advertisements. There are many possible applications for bluetooth, such as community announcements or location based instructions/guides etc. It would be a shame if it doesn’t reach it’s full potential due to overuse or ineffective protocols to deal with the growing list of possible uses.