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Shoppers at five regional retail malls in the greater Los Angeles area have a new way to obtain promotional messages and discounts. They just have to set their Bluetooth enabled cell phone, PDA or other mobile device to discoverable.

Santa Monica, CA-based Macerich Co., one of the country’s largest owners of major retail properties, is using the Intera Group’s Proximity Marketing network to reach customers. Pleasanton, CA-based Intera installs Bluetooth transmitters in a busy area of the retail properties. Then it sends ads and special offers wirelessly to the mobile devices of passing shoppers.

The program debuted at the Westside Pavilion in West Los Angeles, The Oaks in Thousand Oaks, Los Cerritos Center in Cerritos, Lakewood Center in Lakewood, and Stonewood Center in Downey. The five shopping centers have more than six million square feet of combined retail space.

The key to the Intera AzureMayan Bluetooth Proximity Marketing network is Bluetooth wireless technology. Bluetooth is the global short-range wireless standard for personal connectivity of a broad range of electronic devices. The low-power technology has a typical range of 50 to 100 feet, says Intera Group CEO Kevin Thornton.

“This limited range enables us to target promotions to a specific location. In addition, Bluetooth operates independently from the wireless carrier networks,” Thornton says. “That means there’s no cost to the consumer to receive the message or associated content.”

Bluetooth zones are located in or near food courts, theater box offices, information kiosks and other strategic locations where shoppers tend to linger. “We always post signs so shoppers know they’re in a Bluetooth zone. They have to opt-in if they want to receive promotions,” Thornton says.

The network enables marketers and advertisers to deliver targeted messages to consumers based on their location and near the point-of-sale, when targeted marketing has the greatest effect. Intera’s content delivery system supports all major content formats including video, audio, images, downloadable mobile applications and text.

“One of the first promotional offers we sent to shoppers was a 30 second trailer for a soon to be released movie. Consumers who downloaded the trailer received an option to download a second piece of content, wallpaper for their mobile device,” he says. “Once people opt-in and download, 50% opt-in a second and third time. Those who don’t opt in again have typically moved out of range.”

Thornton says the key is to make sure consumers perceive value in the content. The promotions have to be relevant and interesting, and the offers have to be meaningful and easy to access. “Generally speaking, merchants just ask the consumer to show the coupon on the screen to redeem it. A few will include a code that can be copied,” Thornton says.

Scott W. Burchard, senior vice president of business initiatives for Macerich, calls mobile marketing “vitally important” for reaching consumers today and in the future. Partnering with Bluetooth network “provides a unique opportunity to reach millions of consumers with relevant offers at the point of sale,” he says.

Macerich owns approximately 77 million square feet of gross leasable area consisting primarily of interests in 72 regional malls. It focuses on high-growth US retail markets, including in California, Arizona, New York and suburban Washington, DC.

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