You enter a trade fair stand and are personally greeted via your phone. You then take a closer look at the stand and received product-specific information such as data, videos and contact information presented on your mobile. This is just one of a limitless number of conceivable possibilities that can be accomplished using iBeacons.
An app on your smartphone detects iBeacons, which are small transmitters based on Bluetooth LE that are attached to the entrance of a store or trade fair stand. They send a signal that is interpreted by the smartphone and includes the location and the object or product that the iBeacon stands for, the company behind it and how far the iBeacon is from the smartphone. At close range, it has an accuracy of approximately 5 cm. If the app receives signals from at least three iBeacons simultaneously, it can calculate the position of the smartphone in the room using triangulation.
Thus far the technology has primarily been used for marketing purposes, e.g. in proximity marketing. Based on the customer’s location and profile, they are provided with product information, loyalty rewards, vouchers and purchasing tips (cross-selling, up-selling). Their awareness can also be drawn to products that they are looking for and have entered in their online shopping list (Live Watchlist Alerts). According to a recent study conducted by the innovation lab of the media agency Initiative, over three quarters of the surveyed marketing decision-makers believe in the relevancy of iBeacons for brand communication. Hundreds of start-ups have been established in the past few months, which are trying to drive this expected marketing revolution.
However, many decision-makers remain sceptical of iBeacons. Two-thirds of the survey participants see high or even very high risks associated with commercial usage. The greatest fear is that consumers may reject the push advertising transmitted by the iBeacons. In addition to this, those surveyed view adherence to privacy laws and technical obstacles as risky.
Before marketers start using iBeacons for commercial purposes, many companies will use them to measure the number of visitors and frequency at the POS to learn more about consumer behaviour in the first step according to the researchers.