Beacon Technology Makes a Sports Fan as Loyal to Your Brand as They Are to Their Team
The beacon space is highly fragmented, writes Opera Mediaworks' Andrew Dubatowka, but contextually relevant campaigns can cut through all that noise.
This is a contributed piece by Andrew Dubatowka,Opera Mediaworks’ Director of Innovation, Product Strategy and Marketing:
Two years ago, when the San Francisco 49ers built their new, $2 billion home in Santa Clara, California, in addition to the 75,000 seats — that hosted Super Bowl 50 attendees this past Sunday — they also installed 2,000 beacons.
It was just a few months after the NFL first experimented with beacon-based marketing at MetLife stadium, during Super Bowl XLVIII. They used Gimbal beacons to deliver geo-targeted ads via the NFL Mobile app to everyone milling around Times Square.
Were they effective? Not sure…
Were they a great way to put the possibilities of beacon-targeting in front of marketers? Very much so.
Since that 2014 kick-start, beacon adoption and its targeting technology has come a long way. With more than 4 million beacons now deployed in the United States, and an exploding number of ad tech companies now working to collect, sort and apply the data gathered from them, a significant number of major retailers and shopping centers have now bought into proximity marketing. More than half of the top 100 U.S. retailers tested out beacons in 2015, and Business Insider projects that among those, 85 percent of retail locations will have them by the end of 2016.
Targeting beyond the store
But beacons have expanded well beyond retail. At Wimbledon last summer, tournament goers that hit beacons at railway and tube stations received personalized directions to the venue. At the aforementioned Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, beacon technology helps fans navigate to their seat, find the bathroom with the shortest line and order food to their chair. Monetizable solutions for venue owners, such as seat upgrades and custom sales on merchandise, have rolled out at NBA and MLB games.
In fact, if you asked someone on the street — or more likely, at a mobile marketing conference — for a use case in sports, this is what they might tell you: It’s Coors Light serving a coupon for $1 off a beer when a fan passes the concession stand during the seventh inning stretch.
But that kind of location-based messaging only provides short-term value to the advertiser — the immediate purchase of one, maybe two beers. It focuses on a single retail transaction, which is not scalable in the long term. Moreover, it takes into account a single user, whose behavior is not always predictable.
Ultimately, the “shelf life” of that beacon data is very short. As soon as that fan leaves the venue, having purchased the advertised product or not, the data does not help the company serve that customer. He’s out of Bluetooth range and cannot receive personalized offers until he attends another event.
Find longer term value in beacon technology
The bigger question now is, how can you use beacon data over the longer term to better reach and serve that customer? How do we evolve beacons to help understand users’ “real world” identity, thus allowing advertisers to increase the personalization, timeliness and effectiveness of their mobile marketing campaigns? How can we build lifetime value from sports fans?
Instead of focusing on the here-and-now, and serving them ads for Coors Light based on their real-time location and behavior, why not use the collective data of all sports fans in that area, over a period of time, to make an informed decision about what to offer, to whom and when? With that aggregated data, gathered from multiple providers, you can make smarter choices that will impact your bottom line far beyond the moment when they hit a beacon at the stadium.
Say, for instance that a Broncos fan is walking through Super Bowl City in San Francisco the week before the game. There were beacons installed there, and because that person had opted-in to location services for the NFL (or the Super Bowl 50) app on their phone, the beacon picked up their location and registered it in the database.
Through the week, Coors might choose to serve their brand ad campaign, featuring humorous short-form videos within various news, weather or gaming apps to that person whether they are still in Super Bowl city or at home. Then, on game day, if that person was not attending the Super Bowl (which you would also know from beacon data) you would be able to serve them a custom offer for a case of Coors Light, with a message such as, “Let’s help you stock up for the big game.” In this way, you are building a long-term relationship with the customer, going beyond the immediate $1 off beer offer and providing them with what they really need (a party pack) and when (game day).
That is the missing piece of the proximity marketing puzzle: going past the singular, real-time view of one customer and taking a macro view of the consumer. The beacon space, much like online advertising was 10 years ago, before consolidation, is still highly fragmented — but there are now solutions that aggregate that data so that advertisers take the insights from it and create truly intelligent campaigns. This is the key step that will drive proximity marketing forward: the application of contextually relevant customer data to improve the accuracy of promotional offers and advertisements over the long term.
Andrew’s BIO: Throughout his career, Andrew Dubatowka has built a deep understanding of mobile marketing and has proven expertise in strategy and activation. As Opera Mediaworks’ Director of Innovation, Product Strategy and Marketing, Andrew oversees the product innovation, product strategy, sales support and new product merchandising and marketing for all departments.