It wasn’t a very good movie, but those of us who are technology watchers might remember Minority Report starring Tom Cruise. The plot was horrible, but I was struck by the specific technology that ‘big brother’ used to track people in that advanced society. They used eyeball biometrics to track the people’s whereabouts along with delivering personalized one to one marketing messages via digital screens when the character walked past. It was cool!
Science Fiction has Become Science Fact
Let’s fast forward to 2016, considering the stadium and arena venues worldwide and the rise of the Millennials and their unique buying habits. People have a choice. Go to the stadium and spend $400/$500 or more for a family of four or stay at home to watch the game on 80” 4K televisions in the comfort of their own living rooms. This has now become the challenge to team and venue ownership and the food service concessionaire’s that serve the fans. Every team wants to better engage their patrons, from season ticket holders to corporate clients to that family of four that can afford one or two events a year. It’s about fan engagement, entertainment and the experience that will compel them to head to the venue.
"Beacon technology is being rapidly adapted in the retail, hospitality and healthcare segments"
It all starts with an “app”. Teams and retailers today have or will have apps that fans can download to receive offers, coupons, food and merchandising deals. Fans and consumers can opt in an out. Today, through integrated beacon technology and Digital Signage based displays, “Minority Report” comes alive. A few digital signage software providers can now integrate a team’s “app” with the digital screens throughout the venue. Through the Bluetooth low energy (BLE) beacons the venue management can now communicate with the fan on a one to one basis in real time, right there, right now for maximum impact. Millennials want info where they want it, when they want it, and how they want it.
Enter the Beacon
The Beacon itself is simply a device that transmits small amounts of data via BLE up to 150 feet.
Shedding light on how the technology works; the team or venue’s selected mobile application is installed on a user’s smartphone. The app will now be looking for Beacons in the background. Once detected, the content management platform and the mobile application will perform a search in the Cloud, using cellular data or Wi-Fi, to see what content is associated with that Beacon. Once the connection is made, the user or customer can receive customized content to his or her smartphone. Alternatively, the team or venue management can use mobile phone signals to post customized messages on already existing digital signage displays. This allows you to better target your fans and patrons with personalized ads, promotions, product information and calls to action. The possibilities for exciting fan and/ or customer engagement with this new technology are limitless.
I have the venue’s app on my smartphone. I walk past a 65” advertising screen. The Beacon pings my smartphone and I see a personal message on the screen. “Hello Peter, Welcome to Busch Stadium. Glad you could be with us today. The nearest beer stand is 100 feet behind you. The nearest restroom is 100 feet ahead. Here is a code for 10 percent off any jersey purchased in any of our retail stores today. Enjoy the game.” It may not be biometric eyeball scans, but it’s pretty darn powerful nonetheless.
The content management software powering this one to one marketing effort is a key component of success. The API must be easily accessible; built with the latest HTML5 integration tools and ridiculously easy to use. After all, the teams business is selling tickets and merchandising along with putting a good product on the field and not worrying about the technology that enables their objectives.
After all, isn’t that what technology really is, an enabler?
• Good tech enables that fan engagement experience, the brand promise and a call to action.
• Good tech remains quiet in the background.
• Good tech is seen and not heard, unlike the millennials who are a very vocal group.
Beacon technology is being rapidly adapted in the retail, hospitality and healthcare segments. Moreover, when digital signage is strategically placed it leads to increased purchase and a better patron, fan or customer experience.
We are entering the age of beacon technology, enabled by content management platforms and it is coming to life on digital displays all over the world. One to one marketing is now a reality, and even Tom Cruise would be proud of it.
Hesham Abboud, MD, PhD, Director of the Multiple Sclerosis and Neuroimmunology Program and staff neurologist at the Parkinson’s and Movement Disorder Center at University Hospitals of Cleveland, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine
Health Sciences Associate Clinical Professor, Dept of Pediatrics - University of California- Irvine, Director CHOC Comprehensive Epilepsy Center Pediatric Neurology & Epilepsy , Children's Hospital of Orange County