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The future of retail advertising was on display inside a private suite at the Consumer Electronics Show last week — and like many things these days, there was a Seattle Seahawks tie-in.

pic2The prototype system, created by the Seattle-based Ratio digital agency and Footmarks beacon technology company, showed how a retailer — the Seahawks Pro Shop, in this example — could use a promotional giveaway in combination with beacon proximity sensors to get customers into the store, engage with them in new ways, and better track the effectiveness of a marketing campaign.

“We can now personalize a relationship between a shopper and a retail storefront,” explained Russ Whitman, Ratio’s chief strategy officer, during the CES demo.

In the demo, a fan using a sports app on a game console was prompted to download the team’s smartphone app and visit the pro shop to receive a special prize — a “Go Louder” megaphone, of course. The system uses the agency’s RatioTV application framework. Once the fan was in the store, a beacon connected with the app to unlock a special code to receive the free promotion, along with special digital content.

In the end, the retailer would be able to bring more customers into the store, and track the source of the customer acquisition with a level of precision more typical of an online sale. That kind of attribution is a Holy Grail for marketers.

The Seahawks were used as an example in the CES demonstration (with the team’s permission) but there’s no word on any plans by the NFL team to actually roll out the beacon technology in its stores. However, Footmarks does have an existing relationship with the Seahawks: The team is already leveraging Footmarks’ platform for beacons on game days at CenturyLink Field, using them to unlock special messages and content for fans on their smartphones in different parts of the stadiums.

The Seahawks, owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, have been experimenting with new technologies in situations when they believe they can improve the experience for fans.

“We don’t just adopt to what other teams are doing for the sake of adding features or functionality,” said Chip Suttles, vice president of technology for the Seahawks, during the Seahawks CIO Summit this week. “We’re more focused on the right experience for our fan base and having the operational backend support for what we want to roll out. We’re testing beacons and have been doing it for the past couple games. We’re doing it again next Sunday. We’re trying to find the right utilization of that technology for our fan base.”

With beacons expected to grow exponentially over the next year, more and more retailers are on board with the concept, said Brian Slettvet, Footmarks senior vice president of sales: “It’s nascent, but the large brands and retailers have given this their stamp of approval. Now it’s about leveraging the technology in the right way.”

GeekWire reporter Taylor Soper contributed to this report.

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