Shining a light on location based marketing

iBeacon is Apple’s implementation of Bluetooth wireless technology. The iBeacon creates a different channel of providing location based information to iPhones and other IOS devices, such as the iPad or iPod. The process consists of two parts, the broadcaster (the iBeacon device) and the receiver (the smartphone App). The broadcaster is constantly advertising itself and looking for connections to Apps, while the receiver detects these ‘beacons’ (if you’re in the proximity) and accepts or declines these ‘beacons’. The message transmitted could be informational or promotional. This doesn’t mean that you will be bombarded with advertisements and messages every time you walk down your local high street. The iBeacon’s only send out a Bluetooth message if you have the corresponding App downloaded and allow permissions. There are various examples of the iBeacon in practice, with our current favourite being the use of the iBeacon in the travel industry. Various airlines have now tested and used the iBeacon (for things like boarding passes for example). EasyJet and Virgin Atlantic are the most notable airline operators currently using this new technology. The travel operators will automatically send out a message to the Apple device and send out your electronic boarding passes (to the Passbook App on your Apple device) every time you need them and they will also send out important travel information, or general information that may be important throughout your journey, within the proximity of the iBeacon, within the airport. The iBeacon technology could be a big step towards mobile payments, we already have certain ways we can make payments via our phones. Apples Apple Pay  technology (first mentioned Q4 2014 as part of the iPhone 6 launch) will seamlessly integrate with other Apple devices and technologies (for example Passbook and iBeacon) enhancing the user experience.  Current mobile payment methods have limitations and challenges that banks and other payment providers have been trying to overcome for many years. Apple won’t be the only player trying to make a breakthrough in mobile payments, PayPal are also developing their own technology to compete, called the ‘PayPal Beacon’, due to arrive at some point in 2015. Depending on how the iBeacon evolves and gets adapted it could form a very important part of Apple’s identity within e-commerce and mobile payments. You can purchase an iBeacon compatible transmitter for around £30. The price is extremely competitive for the technology that it provides. It is an affordable, yet unproven marketing technique that should be explored if the application and message is relevant.