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You’ve probably heard about iBeacons. It's the cool new technology that Apple put in the latest iOS that’s going to kill NFC, QR codes and every other mobile marketing technology.
At least that’s what people generally perceive to be the case due to consumer indifference to the other technologies I mentioned, as well as the fact that history proves that the safe bet is generally with Apple.
Though it's worth noting that the technology is also available in the latest Android handsets.
At the time of writing iBeacons are still in the trial phase, but hopefully one of the global brands currently experimenting with them will prove that they can be used as a successful marketing or commerce tool.
To find out more about how the technology works, read my post investigating what iBeacons are and why marketers should care...
Pouch is a mobile app owned by Weve, which is an m-commerce venture in the UK backed by EE, O2 and Vodafone.
In February it began what was claimed to be the country’s first ever iBeacon trial in partnership with fast food chain Eat.
Initially launched with just 100 users, the trial involved sending marketing messages to customers as they entered one of Eat’s stores.
The idea was to scale it up gradually throughout the year until the iBeacon feature was available to around 10,000 users. Weve also hoped to bring more retailers onboard with the trial.
Interestingly, this trial was carried out with Android users rather than iPhone.
Major League Baseball
MLB added an iBeacon feature to its already popular At The Ballpark app for the start of the 2014 season.
The technology enabled fans at 20 baseball stadiums to check-in at games and receive exclusive offers.
New features were due to be added as the season wore on while additional stadiums would also be installing iBeacons.
Keen to play up to its image as an innovator, Virgin Atlantic began an iBeacon trial in Heathrow Airport at the beginning of this year.
Virgin passengers with an electronic boarding pass loaded in their iPhone Passbook app could receive messages relevant to their location within the airport.
For example, passengers in the departures section of the airport would be sent special offers such as a commission-free currency exchange.
Or as Upper Class passengers approached the private security gate their phone would automatically load their boarding pass ready for inspection.
New features were being added every few weeks with the aim of creating different, relevant interactions throughout the entire passenger journey.
A museum in Antwerp has been using iBeacons for several months to enable visitors to guide themselves around the various exhibits.
Using the Ruben’s House app, visitors can navigate galleries and find out more about different paintings and galleries.
This video explains more:
Towards the end of 2013 Macy’s began trialling iBeacons using Shopkick’s mobile loyalty app.
Shopkick is a US smartphone app that offers rewards for entering retail stores and scanning items. It can also be linked to a credit card so users can earn points for making purchases.
Its new shopBeacon function allows retailers to send relevant messages to iPhone users via iBeacons, which is what Macy’s did in a pair of its stores in New York and San Francisco.
When Shopkick users entered one of the stores they were sent a message alerting them to deals and relevant sale items.
The trial was initially only conducted among a few Shopkick employees and I cant find any information suggesting that it has been rolled out to the public yet.
Another trial in conjunction with Shopkick, this time taking place at 100 American Eagle and Aerie stores in the US.
It went live in February this year and as yet I can’t find any public results, although American Eagle already uses the original Shopkick app in its US stores so there’s huge potential to scale it up.
According to the PR blurb:
ShopBeacon will welcome and show [shoppers] location-specific rewards, deals, discounts and product recommendations – without them even having to remember to open the app.
In June Odeon Cinemas announced that it planned to imminently begin trials with iBeacons to welcome people to its cinemas, share information and inform them of special offers.
In a talk at Marketing Week Live commercial director Andy Edge said that iBeacons also offered Odeon the opportunity to gain more insights on its visitors.
Around a third of its customers, or 2.5m people, have signed up to the Odeon loyalty scheme and a third of those people have also agreed to CRM.
That’s an impressive figure, but also means there’s a big chunk of customers that the cinema chain knows nothing about.
As a retailer we are looking at how we can use WiFi and iBeacon technology to give us more insight. Without being intrusive we want to understand things like using mobile technology to see average dwell time in the foyer, what is people’s route through the cinema, do you go in and come back again?
Following in Virgin’s footsteps, easyJet has installed iBeacons at London Luton and Gatwick in the UK, and at Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris.
The aim is to help passengers navigate around the airport by sending relevant messages at different locations.
The technology will initially be deployed at bag drop offs and security areas to notify passengers that they need to have documentation ready, such as passports and boarding passes.
Unlike other trials, anyone using the easyJet app can take part, which includes more than 9m passengers.
Japan Airlines has just begun a trial involving both iBeacons and smartwatches at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport.
However it doesn’t appear that consumers will be directly involved. Instead the iBeacons allow the airline to locate staff wearing one of the smartwatches and assign them tasks.
Frontline staff can also check and share the latest information related to their business activities by using the smartwatch.
It’s interesting to see a brand trialling iBeacons to improve business processes rather than pushing out special offers and coupons.
Tesco’s trial began earlier this year in its Chelmsford store. It has said that the technology won’t be used to push out marketing messages, but will instead notify shoppers that their pre-ordered goods are waiting for them.
Ultimately iBeacons could be a central feature in Tesco’s new beta MyStore app, helping customers to find specific items in-store.
Not to be outdone, UK supermarket chain Waitrose also began testing iBeacons in its Swindon store in May.
It’s part of a wider initiative to test new technologies and shopping experiences, including a juice bar, mobile payments and free drinks for members of its loyalty scheme.
iBeacons are being trialled in a new smartphone app that would alert customers to price promotions when in the relevant section of the store.
The app also enables customers to scan barcodes, read reviews, create a virtual shopping basket and pay using a mobile wallet.
St George Bank
Down in Australia St George Bank is to trial iBeacons in three of its Sydney branches.
Customers will be sent a welcome message and tailored information, and can then respond to the message or cancel the interaction.
St George will monitor feedback to see whether the technology improves the in-branch experience and meets a customer need.
In what has been touted as the industry’s largest deployment of iBeacons, American Airlines launched a six-month trial at Dallas Forth Worth Airport beginning in June.
Selected users of the American Airlines app will be sent messages aimed primarily at guiding them round the airport.
This will include information about walking time to gates and boarding updates.
American Airlines says that 65% of passengers arrive at their gate early because they are worried about being late or getting lost.
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