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Platform Pulse: Beacons could soon be everywhere

Several platforms turned significantly bolder in their efforts to showcase brands last week ? quite possibly risking alienating consumers along the way ? but, it was Google?s push into the beacon space that will likely have the bigger short-term impact for mobile-savvy marketers. 

Both Snapchat and Facebook made attempts to give branded content a more prominent position. But, with Snapchat?s users quickly voicing their displeasure with the migration of its Discover section to the homepage, it is clear that marketers still need to tread carefully when it comes to trying to insert themselves into consumers? conversations. No one wants to annoy potential customers. 

The trend toward monetizing mobile platforms via commerce ? and not just advertising ? also continued last week, with both Google and Facebook stepping up their efforts. While marketers should be experimenting with these opportunities, they are not likely to be a big source of revenue for some time. 

It is Google?s new beacon strategy that is likely to have the biggest short-term impact, as a number of marketers are already dabbling in beacons and new Android-ready beacons are available from several suppliers. 

Here are the biggest mobile platform developments from the week July 23:

Snapchat moves brands front and center
While the mobile messaging application introduced Discover, its branded channels feature, earlier this year, the content was less accessible and went unnoticed by a lot of consumers. Snapchat?s recent update brought Discover to the homepage of the app, where the user-generated content is featured. The content from publishers and entertainment brands is now the first thing visible on users? feed. 

However, users quickly took to Twitter to complain about Discover?s new prominence. Snapchat is the current darling of the social media space but if it rushes too quickly and heavily into monetizing the platform with marketing, this could easily change. 

Facebook?s homepage update
Facebook?s update may create a more organic connection between consumers and brands. The social network introduced a new feature for its homepage, in which users can customize which friends and pages they want at the top of their feeds. They can also brand pages as well, enabling brands to potentially create a closer bond with consumers. 

Google Eddystone and beacons
Google announced on Tuesday new tools in support of beacon technology, including a new open format for Bluetooth low energy beacons to communicate with people?s devices called Eddystone, a way to add this data to apps and to Google?s services and a way to manage a fleet of beacons. 

Google?s buy button for mobile search
Google said last week that it is testing a way to buy products directly from search ads on mobile. The new service, called, Purchases on Google, will put ?Buy on Google? in some search results on mobile. When tapped on, consumers will be taken to a page hosted by Google and featuring the retailer?s name. Users can tap on the checkout button to initiate a purchase and then tap on the Place Order button to complete the transaction if payment information is already stored in the user?s Google Account. 

Facebook shops
Facebook is hosting shops on merchants? Facebook Pages, where merchandise can be promoted and sold directly to users. Pages will display a buy button so that users can complete a purchase without having to leave Facebook. The program is still in early development.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is senior editor on Mobile Marketer, New York