Today we continue covering the story behind making Exposure, an event analytics system providing stats about offline marketing activities. We’ve been working on it for the last two years and have already covered how we delivered the MVP and then how we’ve been improving the system. In this post you’ll find out what has changed during the last 12 months and what challenges the product is going to face in the future.
Exposure Goes Social
One of the features that clients’ marketers were asking for for a long time is to find ways to learn more about visitors. Indeed, up until the early part of 2015, all Exposure had been doing is counting and tracking devices. The system could only find out whether it's an Apple device or a Samsung smartphone, but that is all, no data on gender or age. Besides, to be sure no private data is leaking, our guys at RubyGarage configured Exposure to additionally encrypt all Mac addresses and anonymize the info as soon as it was collected.
As you may know, modern technology now allows the creation of Wi-Fi hotspots that would require social credentials to let you access the Internet. Using it could let Exposure capture social logging data as well as enhancing the analytics with information like gender, age and contact information. Moreover, having this info tied to a specific device, we could then get a good profile of how people are behaving, how they are influenced by this experiential activation during the entire duration of the event.
Since such functionality would require additional investment and time and was not wanted by all clients, Forge decided to find a third-party solution for it. Back then Jeremy had already heard of and knew about Socifi, one of the leading US companies offering its own advanced Wi-Fi marketing and monetization solution, often widely used at retail stores, cafes and other permanent locations.
After successful negotiations, Forge tied up Socify with Exposure and provided clients with demographic feedback data. That technology was successfully tested in the autumn of 2015 in Abu Dhabi, where event visitors were amazed to watch how the product tracks their movements in real time.
Seeing that later, Socifi turned out to be very impressed, since they didn't have location analytics built into their Wi-Fi hotspot platform, and this feature was highly in demand among their clients. And when those clients studied Exposure’s new functionality, they asked Jeremy if there is a version of Exposure for their businesses, that is for fixed locations like retail stores. That seemed like a new interesting opportunity for Exposure.
Analytics Solutions For Retail
Installing and maintaining sensors in retail locations doesn’t require any additional hardware or software setup. Yes, the data would now be collected over very long periods of time, like months and years, but Elasticsearch could still handle that. First, because the amount of daily data was much smaller, second, because we have already been using Elasticsearch on another project where data was gathered and processed every second.
Having the same functionality, Exposure could offer slightly different possibilities for fixed locations like shops, bars, and even banks.
As a retail store owner, you could now get a detailed summary of your target audience, analyze your space organization and see the merchandising effectiveness in real time. As a bar owner, you could see what marketing activities drive more people to your place, how many tables your visitors take during peak hours and so on. As a bank executive, you could analyze how much time it generally takes to help a client address his problem and which managers work most effectively.
Although Exposure for retail stores hasn’t yet been launched, it is already clearly seen as another perspective market for Jeremy, where he can compete with big players thanks to his extreme flexibility in delivering products with RubyGarage.
Exposure: The Future
What initially seemed to be a straightforward tool for event organizers, has now turned into a product offering a lot of possibilities for different clients and having been further improved in lots of ways.
One of the major directions that was recently taken in terms of functionality is compatibility. Since the main idea of Exposure is to process the data and turn it into useful statistics, it was decided that the system should not be limited to retrieving data from one kind of Wi-Fi sensors only.
Cisco, Ruckus, Aruba, Xirrus and other companies offer their own hardware that can track visitors and provide stats. But again, that data is useful for organizers, but what about sponsors? So Jeremy decided to extend the Exposure functionality and now it’s able to retrieve data from those systems and provide specific stats for clients who are interested in such kind of data.
Such decision has led to other innovations in Exposure. For instance, earlier the solution was tracking engaged visitors by their proximity to a sensor. Now, when we might have no sensors but only raw data, we at RubyGarage are implementing a unified coordinate system to allow setting up a quick definition of an engaged person. Another challenge is offering clients the opportunity to see the stats for a particular zone that they could simply mark on a map.
In terms of business we can talk about further expansion of the product. However, instead of opening new offices around the world and turning his company into a worldwide enterprise, Rollinson would like to attract global partners and integrate Exposure into services like the one offered by Socifi.
At the same time, Forge Special Projects continues to offer Exposure as a separate platform and has recently installed it for one of its partners at Mobile World Congress, the largest mobile event in the world taking place every year in Barcelona.
We see a great future for Exposure in other industries. It is a great system for performing so many different tasks: just imagine installing it in your house to find ways to optimize your daily living flow; putting it into your office to track how many times per day your colleagues go for a short break or spend time chitchatting in the kitchen; using it as a part of protection systems to find vulnerabilities or wrongdoers.
Yet for now one thing can be stated for sure: Exposure has forever changed the location-based analytics industry. Being aware of the product, more and more marketing agencies and brands are now moving from the doubts of “Does it work?” to the confident “Yes we definitely need it. How can we best use it?”.
Thank you for paying attention to our series of posts dedicated to Exposure. If you’d like to get back to previous posts, here’s the list of links.