Sports arenas

Apple’s iBeacon Sports Arena Marketing Hopes to Deliver Relevant Information Without “Spamming” Fans

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Promoting products to iPhone users using Apple’s wireless location-based iBeacon technology is a fine line as professional sports teams try to provide useful information to fans to sell more products. without bothering or annoying them.

Finding the right balance has been an issue for the National Football League as well as Boston-based Kraft Sports Group, who both spoke to GigaOm about their adoption of Apple’s iBeacon technology. Sports teams are hoping that iBeacons will allow them to sell more goods and services by targeting interested users, but they also realize that doing too much could potentially turn customers away from iBeacon-based marketing altogether.

“We don’t want to flood the customer with ads,” said Jessica Gelman, vice president of customer marketing and strategy for the Kraft Sports Group, which operates the New England Patriots and their arena, Gillette Stadium. “This is no different from the problems we face today with spam marketing: how to make information timely, relevant and non-obnoxious.”

In their current form, iBeacons require a certain level of user effort to start functioning. For example, a user must have a specific app installed for local transmitters to connect, and they must have Bluetooth and the appropriate notifications enabled.

To encourage fans to install apps and get involved, the NFL offers content to keep fans entertained during commercial breaks and at halftime. In one example, the league is looking to allow fans to participate in half-time shows if they register during the game.

IBeacons use Bluetooth Low Energy technology to communicate with nearby iPhones, enabling location-based functionality. For example, Apple uses iBeacons in its own retail stores to keep users up to date with in-store events, provide easy access to product reviews, and even allow users to see their iPhone upgrade eligibility or to collect their order online.

Outside of Apple’s retail, sports stadiums were among the early adopters of iBeacons, including significant use of NFL and Major League Baseball. Some uses of the technology include seat upgrades, location-based interest in points of interest or stadium amenities, and even the placing of concession orders.

Since iBeacon’s features require a third-party app to be installed, Apple plans to make it easier to install the options available with the launch of iOS 8 this fall. With iOS 8, users will be able to view location-based app recommendations directly from their iPhone. lock screen, installing them quickly to get functionality from nearby businesses.


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