One year of proximity – The Unacast journey

Unacast launched commercially at SXSW one year ago. Join us on a trip down memory lane to look back and reflect on just how far this industry has come in such a short time.

March 20, 2016

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Proximity technology, where beacons are the most prominent component, represent a newfound possibility for retailers and brands to precisely communicate with customers at the location and to bring those hyper-local interactions into digital channels for continued engagement.

We have come far, but the journey has only just begun.

From o to 60 to 400 million beacons

At the time of launch, the estimated amount of deployed beacons was around roughly 60 million in 2020, something that has been dramatically adjusted upwards as deployments have increased in volume and size – and with the announcement of the Google Eddystone beacon protocol. The number now tally 400 million in 2020 and recent numbers from Proxbook shows that we are as an industry on track to reaching that number. There are five million confirmed launched beacons as of Q1 2016, and when we launched a year ago that number was in the low 100K's. The next four years are certainly going to be hectic, and fun.

From 100 to 350 Proximity Solution Providers (PSPs)

One year ago we estimated there to be around 100 proximity solution providers in the world, and now that number has grown to over 350. We expect it to continue to increase to 500 companies by the end of 2016. In opposite other new tech industries where you typically see a convergence towards a handful of global companies over time, we do not predict this will happen in the proximity industry. Due to the inherent geographic nature of installing physical sensors and the vastly different technologies and software needed for various verticals we believe fragmentation to be permanently high.

The growing number of retailers and brands investing in proximity technology

Business Insider predicts that over 40 billion in retails sales will be directly influenced by beacons in 2016. No wonder then that all the bigger retailers are boarding the beacon and sensor train. To name a few:

  • Rite Aid with 4500 stores
  • Screenvision in 300 theaters
  • CAPA cinema at 80% of their cinemas
  • The San Francisco 49ers with 2000 beacons at Levi’s Stadium
  • General Growth Properties with 120 shopping centers
  • Target with 1800 stores
  • Verifone payment terminals
  • LevelUp payment systems planned for 1000 shops
  • ViewMarket with 200.000 beacons at US restaurants
  • And many more like Barneys, Old Navy, Macy's, Marshalls, TJMaxx and American Eagle

Google´s Eddystone changed the proximity industry

The proximity industry was largely born out of the launch of iBeacon from Apple. The Apple protocol has one industry defining limitation; that it requires an app to read and trigger beacon actions. This is not surprising as Apple is at heart an app company.

When Google launched their competing Eddystone standard mid-2015, although the iBeacon and Eddystone protocol can speak to each other, it had one major advantage; it can trigger web pages/URL’s directly, in effect treating the web browser as the beacon app. This will dramatically grow the industry in size, and you can expect to see many uses cases based on this URL-ability in 2016 and beyond.

With the growth of the Industry, so has the relevance of Unacast and our products grown – as we are on a journey to connect the dots of the fragmented proximity industry

Halfway to 100 companies - The Unacast PROX partner network

When we launched at SXSW, we presented our first seven PSP partners and with that our ambition to build a more robust proximity industry, by connecting the industry players to each other and to digital media channels. In doing so, we can as an industry be more relevant for large advertisers and media platforms – increasing the deal flow for everyone.

Twelve months later we are welcoming PSP number 50, and we are working with some of the biggest players in the industry. We have also signed with large global media platforms like Opera Mediaworks and more are coming onboard.

Proxbook soon 300 PSPs strong

One year ago Proxbook didn’t exist. We built Proxbook to help increase visibility for the whole of the proximity industry so that retailers and brands would more easily find a proximity solution provider to fit their specific needs. From the launch in June 2015 the growth has been nothing short of amazing, and we are about to welcome company number 300 onboard from 45 countries and with more than 6 million sensors deployed. Over 90 % of the industry is represented – making Proxbook the definitive guide to proximity marketing.

To keep up with demand, we have recently launched new functions for showcasing proximity use casesindustry events and a helpful “get started with proximity”-feature.

And of course, each quarter we publish the Proxbook Report, which is the aggregated view of all data from the 300 companies in Proxbook. These reports are downloaded in the thousands, and the Q1 report will be launched in just a couple of weeks. Stay tuned.

Read more: Download the latest Proxbook Report

The growth of Unacast

Since we launched at SXSW, we have seen the need to ramp up our team, to grow in line with our partners. Since March we have hired 10 new “Knights of Unacastle” and are in the process of onboarding our next 10, bringing the team to 25+. From our cradle in Oslo, Norway, we have moved our commercial head office to New York City, as well as having offices in London and San Francisco. To top of a fantastic year, we won both the “Best New Company in the Nordics” at the Nordic Startup Awards as well as the “Best Location-based Campaign” at the StreetFight Awards.

We are humbled by the warm welcome you have all given to Unacast and to our mission of connecting the proximity industry.

Read more: Unacast is hiring #thetwenty

Thank you

Thank you all for an exciting, inspiring and educational year, and a special warm thank you goes out to all of our partners. We are grateful to be working with you, and to build together a strong, new industry. The proximity industry.