On my company blog, I post about the rise of iBeacons and their implication for retail marketers. It will probably be a long time before stores do something creative with it, but I ordered some from Estimote for the team to play with and I’m sure we’ll come up with some weird scavenger hunt idea for them soon.
iBeacon, Apple’s tiny Bluetooth-enabled device, is a disruptive technology set to allow brands to intercept shoppers at the exact point of intent. It’s bringing us even closer to an “internet of things” and will give us creative and opportunistic ways to engage the retail consumer. While our phones are currently smart enough to know how to run complex apps or contact servers across the globe, until now, the device doesn’t know if you’re in your kitchen, bedroom, frozen foods section or milk aisle.
With a range of 50 meters, inexpensive iBeacons can cover 2,500 square meters. This means that even an average Macy’s store at 16,258 square meters would only need 7 of them. Instead of simply knowing you’re near a store (as today’s location-based services do), iBeacons will know precisely which section you’re in, enabling retailers to send contextual messages accordingly.
Knowing precisely where someone is in a store or mall has tons of potential for creativity. But because they’re so inexpensive and last for up to 3 years on a single watch battery, it’s just a matter of time before any brand with an app starts hiding these things in competing stores, movie theaters, train stations, etc. The key, as we found out, excited to badger someone with a “Welcome to DiMassimo Goldstein, take $1 million off your $100 million ad campaign” was that you need to have a working and updated iPhone app on the target’s phone. Which is great for banks, and big store chains – it simply takes a little bit of code in your next app update.