Features

From Click to Brick, How Apple’s iBeacon Changes the Ad Game

Written on
Dec 16, 2013 
Author
Richard L. Tso  |

ADOTAS – Retail stores have long searched for the ability to use people’s online shopping habits to more effectively target consumers with offers that they want on their most trusted devices: their mobile phones. Bridging the online and in-store marketing conundrum push notifications and text messaging will soon be powered by new technologies like Apple’s iBeacon, an in-store transmitter that allows stores and brands to deliver targeted messages to the iOS7 smartphones of people who walk through their doors.

Last week, Apple debuted its iBeacon technology in its New York store on 5th Avenue, enabling people who use the Apple Store app on their iPhones to receive customized messages about discounts, products and events available at that specific Apple store location.

In a new study released by mobile marketing company Swirl and independent marketing research firm ResearchNow that surveyed over 1000 consumers, 77 percent of respondents said they’d be fine with sharing location data in exchange for something valuable like a mobile coupon or digital offer. Swirl also found that 65 percent of consumers indicated they trust retail brands over shopping apps and social platforms such as Google or Facebook when it comes to location data.

Other findings of the survey include:

  • 67 percent received shopping-related alerts on their smartphones in the past six months.
  • Of those individuals, 81 percent said they read them “most of the time,” and 79 percent then made a purchase.
  • When asked why they rejected mobile shopping alerts, 41 percent stated that they were not relevant to their interests or location, while 37 percent said the offers did not provide enough value, 16 percent thought they were annoying, and 6 percent said they were spam.
  • 80 percent said they would use retailer apps more often while shopping in a store if those apps delivered sales and promotion alerts.
  • 62 percent said they would increase their use of use retailer mobile apps in the store if the apps provided content that was more relevant to their interests and location.

Even so, Computer World recently wrote that usage of iBeacon may lead to additional security flaws that people need to consider.

“iBeacon’s fundamentally open design means that any mobile app could be designed to pick up a retailer’s location broadcast, including apps developed by competitors or unscrupulous third-party developers,” said Hilmi Ozguc, chief executive of in-store mobile marketing platform provider Swirl. “These apps could use that broadcast information to locate and track a user, possibly without their permission.”

iBeacon works by leveraging Bluetooth LE (BLE) technology available in most phones today, as a way to transmit data between BLE supported devices within a physical area within 50 meters, according to GigaOM. People will need to explicitly give brands permission to receive this type of custom ad content through enabling their geo-location services at stores, sporting venues and restaurants. But according to mobile marketing company Swirl, people in search of good deals are more than willing to hand over their privacy.

“iBeacon does what QR codes didn’t, and without ever having to click on a photo, or do anything technical with a phone,” said Christopher Laurance , CEO and co-founder of J&L Marketing. “It can just occur, much like having an icon on your phone that asks if you want to click and see more. It can also price compare, and much much more. As always, implementation is paramount and the best will understand how to make it a powerful tool.”

Where’s it headed? “It’s going to go wherever someone that is inventive takes it,” Laurance said. “It has such wide opportunities. Since it uses low-power (less than a battery) transmitters, it can be used to show hiking trails, help people if they are lost, introduce moms looking for walking partners to other moms with same age children. Let your imagination run wild, and it might fill that void. In the future I suspect we will have more micro, more macro and more messes on all fronts — more micro advertising like iBeacon, more macro like TV, now even pre-film at a theater, and more messes like spam.”





Richard L. Tso is a reporter for Adotas and an avid writer covering the intersection of technology and advertising, fashion and music. With over 12 years of experience in the Advertising, Marketing and Public Relations industries, Richard has held executive positions at global agencies and technology companies and is founder of the interactive communications firm Pseudosound Consulting LLC. A classical cellist and painter, he believes that sometimes sound carries more weight than words. He is a graduate of Stanford University.

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