SOURCE: CMN

July 16, 2014 11:10 ET

What Is Revolutionizing the Event Marketing and Entertainment Industry? iBeacon Technology

iBeacon Technology for Event Marketing & Sponsorship Activation in Sports & Entertainment Venue's Nationwide

CHICAGO, IL--(Marketwired - July 16, 2014) - Imagine you are at a Romeo Santos concert at Yankee Stadium, or about to watch Lionel Messi and the two-time World Cup champions Argentina take on Mexico at Soldier Field. You can't wait to get to your seats, buy Cheladas, hot dogs and chips with guacamole and start to enjoy either some pulsating Bachata or high-level soccer action with your friends and family. But wait, this is your first time at this venue and amongst the sea of people, you can't find an usher to help you get directions to your seats. The "King of Bachata" is about to start! Messi and company are about to begin their futbol  "symphony"!

What do you do? Que hago?

No problem. Just download the venue-specific iBeacon app to your smartphone and with a few clicks on your Bluetooth enabled device -- in an instant -- you are getting step by step directions to your seats in a way that closely parallels how you use a GPS phone app to get driving directions.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. iBeacon apps could eventually help fans find the shortest lines for food, beverages, and bathrooms, among many other creative potential future uses for experiential marketing campaigns.

So what is iBeacon you ask?

BusinessInsider.com responds: "Beacons are a low-cost piece of hardware -- small enough to attach to a wall or countertop -- that use battery-friendly, low-energy Bluetooth connections to transmit messages or prompts directly to a smartphone or tablet."

More simply, we are talking about an indoor positioning system created by Apple that is enabled by transmitters that can notify nearby iOS 7 devices of their presence. The iBeacon technology works on Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), also known as Bluetooth Smart. BLE is also available on Bluetooth 4.0 devices, including a select number of Android smartphones.

For marketers, once the campaigns become more well-rounded, quantitative data can be transformed into a "heat map" revealing information that can empower brands to activate more targeted and customized campaigns and sports property owners to better monetize assets.

Major League Baseball, for example, was among the first major companies to embrace Apple's iBeacon technology on a wide scale to enhance its event marketing program. MLB installed iBeacon in 28 MLB ballparks across the U.S. last year to help iPhone owners check-in to games automatically and collect special offers. Now, the project is entering phase two, with a major debut project scheduled to be implemented at this year's All-Star Game at Target Field. That event marketing effort will use iBeacons combined with in-park attractions to offer additional content and interactive features to the exhibits via their devices. Besides MLB, other early U.S. adopters include the NFL, NBA and WWE.

"Businesses today need to think hyperlocal," says Yankee Group Research Director Sheryl Kingstone. "It's not just about location-based applications, but also understanding how the new proximity marketing opportunity can be embraced. This technology helps businesses target customers in the physical domain by embracing mobile to improve customer engagement."

A growing number of Cardenas Marketing Network clients have inquired about the technology. The same is true about some client prospects we are in touch with. It seems as this emerging new technology has everyone curious about what is possible now and will be possible in the future. The agency is just as enthused with the prospect of fully immersing in the technology and activating innovative guerrilla marketing campaigns for our clients.

My take on this is that in less than two years, every major US stadium or entertainment venue will become "beacon-enabled" as they seek to improve and enrich fan engagement with smartphone users at the game, concert, or event. Music sponsorships, experiential marketing and guerrilla marketing campaigns, in particular, seemed perfectly poised to take full advantage of the endless creative activation possibilities.

At music concerts, for example, the technology can be used in endless manners limited only by one's imagination and creativity. Concert-goers can be invited to visit X Lounge, or X Restaurant to receive star artist's signed merchandise or a free copy of her latest music CD, or to get two-for one drinks in a offer provided by a concert brand sponsor. Concert-goers exiting the arena can receive notifications about a concert after-party sponsored by a spirits brand. Concert-goers can get exclusive coupons provided only to them and only on-site sponsored by a retailer brand. The possibilities are literally endless.

Retailers and shopping malls are next.

The challenge at hand is both technological and human-centered: brands must determine how to integrate location-based technologies in a way that is non-intrusive and flows naturally with the targeted audience.

The more personalized in-stadium or in-store experience enabled by proximity marketing is going to change everything across the customer path. However, the effectiveness of branding programs will depend on how well marketers 'do their homework' in terms of customer intelligence and customer profiles."

In order to generate optimal results, brands need to create rich customer profiles that will enable them to activate deeper customer engagement strategies based on the individual preferences and patterns of behavior for each customer. Best results will come to fruition when brands combine precision location with customer context to suggest the right offer to the right person at the right time.

About the Author: Joshua Eagle Patron is the Executive Creative Director at Cardenas Marketing Network. You can connect with him at @joshuaepatron.

About Cardenas Marketing Network: Cardenas Marketing Network is a multicultural experiential marketing agency that connects consumers and brands through their passion points of music, sports and cultural culture. The award-winning agency has been recognized by Event Marketer's Top Agency "It List," Chief Marketer's "Promo 100" and Crain's Chicago Business "Fast 50" among others for its service to such clients as Anheuser-Busch InBev, Diageo, Johnson & Johnson, H&R Block and Sherwin-Williams. For more information please visit: CMNevents.com.

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