Bluetooth, the technology that uses wireless connectivity to exchange data across short distances, could be a powerful solution for measuring outdoor ads, according to a paper published in the Journal of Advertising Research (JAR).

Measuring Audience Reach of Outdoor Advertisements: Using Bluetooth Technology to Validate Measurement addressed frequent criticisms that out-of-home advertising often struggles to verify its reach.

In response, Bill Page, Zachary Anesbury, Sophia Moshakis, and Alicia Grasby – all from the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science and School of Marketing at University of South Australia – looked to Bluetooth as a potential solution.

The use of Bluetooth logging, their analysis explained, has been applied successfully to tracking human movement, which demonstrates its potential for measuring the reach of outdoor advertising.

Bluetooth also can provide researchers with a method of obtaining unique and anonymous IDs for passersby, which leads to detailed measurements for the frequency and reach of outdoor advertising.

“Bluetooth data collection can be used to approximate the total reach of an outdoor advertisement and could be extended to be measured across multiple sites to determine the reach for a whole campaign,” the Ehrenberg-Bass team wrote. “This allows for a non-invasive, anonymous, and real-time data-collection approach.”

Moreover, they contended, the technology means that “advertisers now can determine the average number of exposures for each respondent and the proportion of repeated exposures for a particular advertisement over a period of time. Practitioners also can make informed decisions about the optimum duration of a campaign.

“Given the increasingly digital nature of outdoor signage and the changeable nature of the displays, Bluetooth data could be logged against the actual advertisement being displayed at the time, which would allow for even more fine-grained campaign analysis.”

Sourced from Journal of Advertising Research; additional content by WARC staff