iBeacons-Coming to a venue near you soon!
It seems to be on the lips of every marketing agency, it’s the buzzword of the year, it’s the retailers recurring fantasy come true, it’s the …. ” but … but……WAIT a minute!! surely it’s just a bit of technology and it’s got some obvious retail and other public space applications”. Thanks Homer.
iBeacons use Bluetooth 4 technology to broadcast messages to Mobile phones. The iBeacon itself is inexpensive and mobile. They can be put almost anywhere. Imagine you are at a rock concert and the merchandiser wants to get a message to all the audience in front of the stage, or arriving in their thousands at Wembley Stadium… but how?.. what about pairing?, what about distance and …..hold on there fellah ! with the iBeacon there’s no need to have paired devices and the range is typically greater than you would associate with standard Bluetooth, up to 50 metres at the moment. Imagine the potential where the beacon could reach every one of the tens of thousands of people walking down Wembley Way towards or away from the stadium. The possibilities are many and varied for selectively blatting a message to these passers-by as they exit a game, hungry, thirsty and tired perhaps. Hotels/restaurants, bars , burger joints and hot dog vans alike will be able to entice people with direct marketing appeals at specified events turning it on or off like a tap as their facility fills to capacity…………..or their beer runs out….
When will this “hit the streets” so to speak? Well…that’s a good one, it’s definitely about to land in a significant way, in fact, 200 million iOS devices can already serve as transmitters and receivers – yes, Apple have built in the technology and it’s called Apple iBeacon into the iOS7iPhone operating system. To be clear, the Apple iPhone beacons are two way iBeacons for receiving a signal and for transmitting. There are other, third party beacons, which simply act as transmitters of data /messages which are received by the iPhone and numerous Android devices too including the ever popular galaxy range from Samsung.
…. Any more objections? Yes sure, what powers these iBeacons? – great point, they are low energy, have self contained power source – (cell battery!), so can be installed and left alone (low maintenance) and are thought to have a battery span of about 2 years…. since they work on pulse rather than continuously draining a battery… Yes two years!. Next.? How does it work in practice…? Ahaah, OK, yes… well,… from a user perspective it’s a case of “Wow – where did that come from?”. But in fact When a smartphone enters within an iBeacon’s range (up to 50m), the beacon’s signal triggers content from either a local database or cloud-based storage. The smartphone user will see a notification on their home screen saying a discount, incentive or appropriate product is available at such and such a place . What if the phone is locked? It gets to them even if the phone is locked, relax.
That’s what I’m talking about, targeted marketing , targeted by time, place, people events products …what about putting this into a shop, there’s a special offer on those shoes, lets hit everyone within 15 metres of the shoe shop with this offer, lets sell shoes !….and everything else besides. Beacons will be used in all sorts of public spaces to inform as well as to sell. Maybe airports will use them to direct people to the right gate, maybe an art gallery will have information on the artwork on its walls and a guide through the building to keep those crowds moving. Crowd control is a really big business in the days when mass participation activities seem to be on the increase through the marketing efforts of social media. These iBeacons may be the link on the ground that contacts and communicates any number of kinds of information to the crowds once they get together at the venue. iBeacons are here folks… let’s get ready to ……..er… be…. contacted. Yeeey!