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There's an old surrealist gag by a comedian called Harry Hill that goes 'Text messaging?! What's wrong with a good old-fashioned chain of beacons, hmm?'
I think I'm remembering that right.
Anyway, it leads me to ask - are iBeacons a legitimate advancement in push communications, or are they overhyped?
Personally, I think 2014 was the year when the hype around digital technology in retail stores crested a wave.
By 2015, I was writing fairly sceptical posts about the screens in the corner that nobody uses.
However, now that the noise around kiosks, beacons and mobile loyalty has died down, it seems a good time to assess the landscape.
Who would have thought those enormous blocks of plastic you could play Snake on back in the early noughties would end up completely transforming the way brands communicate with people?
Mobile is an exciting channel that presents an enormous amount of opportunities to connect with consumers, but it is evolving so quickly that many marketers are struggling to keep up.
I was reading an excellent article about the slow uptake of iBeacons when I became almost lucid, and started to see digital as the CFO sees it.
The power of digital technology can blind marketers to the simple question of 'will the customer use it?'
Too often, marketing technology is interruptive, based on providing value for the business but wish-washy engagement for the customer.
In an age of persistent connectivity, no modern event would be complete without its own mobile app.
During the recent Glastonbury Festival weekend, the official event app was launched more than 3m times by users checking festival news and set times, connecting with fellow festival goers, and streaming live coverage.
Industries ranging from theme parks to sports venues are amplifying the customer experience by diving deeper into data and mining insights that are timely and add value.
Delivering a breakthrough customer experience requires close collaboration between marketing and technology.
A truly collaborative experience depends on employees throughout the organisation reaching across the aisle and participating in delighting the customers.
Are there any numbers out there to justify the hype? Let’s go on a little investigation.
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, or in fact any publisher dealing in digital or marketing, you’ll likely be well versed in the world of beacons, iBeacons and other near-field communications (NFC).
If not, head on over to this handy beginner’s guide which should bring you up to speed.
Examples of beacons being used in everything from retail to one-off music or sporting events are becoming more frequent as the months roll on. It’s an exciting time, and there’s a genuine belief that this technology really will build the bridge between offline and online marketing.
Depending on your upbringing, ‘fencing’ may mean something very different to you than other people.
If you’re very posh it’s the practice of non-lethally poking masked opponents with pointy sticks. If you’re slightly less posh, but still had a garden to run around in as a child, then it’s the practice of putting up a wooden division so that neighbours can’t just wander onto your property unsolicited.
And if you’re even less posh... it’s the practice of knowingly buying stolen property for the purpose of selling on at a later date.
I probably fall somewhere between the latter two.
However, perhaps you come from a long line of digital innovators and early adopters (your granddad developed the first beeper for instance) and the term fencing means more about GPS to you then anything else. If that’s the case then you probably needn’t read any further.
Then again you came this far...
How much traffic does your website get? On the surface, it seems like it should be an easy question to answer. But unfortunately, it isn't so cut-and-dry. Companies like comScore are in the business of helping publishers and advertisers find the answer, but according to Jason Calacanis, comScore is running an "extortion ring".
In a fiery post this weekend, he rails against comScore, calling it the "technology industry’s biggest bully" and even suggesting that traders short the company's stock.