iBeacon Inverted Value Pyramid
iBeacon news is everywhere and changes in IOS 7 updates are making good news fodder but I want to clarify some real “value” points about iBeacon solutions. I’ll call this the “inverted value pyramid”
This pyramid helps you decode the value of iBeacons in a business context. The smaller the triangle, the lower the value.
Layers of Value: iBeacon, Passbook, Apps
- at the base of the pyramid, iBeacons are the lowest value
- next step up the pyramid is the possibility for retailers, museums, brands, airlines to incorporate iBeacon with some of the features of Passbook. I’ll do a detailed post on Passbook iBeacon integration because its good but has a few hidden gotchas.
- Most value at the top of the pyramid is integrating iBeacons with Mobile or Table Apps. The most flexible and meaningful uses for iBeacons are in conjunction with a specific experience. For example:
- A Museum can help users discover exhibit information
- Playgrounds and Museums will run treasure hunts for kids
- Dating Apps will allow proximity matching for “similar likes”
- Business Apps might exchange business card/contact data quickly
- Retail can measure footfall and attribute to a specific marketing activity earlier on the App
- Retail might trigger an event in Aisle 5 because a user put the Pasta Sauce on the shopping list.
- etc. The possibilities are limitless.
iBeacon Hype Hate List
Hate 1: my first item on the iBeacon hype hate list is: Assigning magical properties to a new gadget.
Much of the press about iBeacons latches on to the magical properties of “never-before-available” capabilities. The green section of the pyramid is what iBeacons can do for you on their own…..the answer is “not much”.
They might be great as a talking point and as a sales tool in a meeting, they help people to grasp the potential, but other than that you can’t make much use of them.
Hate 2: Magic Happens. The great news about iBeacon and Passbook is that it allows long-tail retailers to potentially use coupons without delivering Apps. It also allows big retailers/brands to use Passbook as a new customer acquisition channel.
However, here is my list of “its not magic” points:
- Implementation Magic – whether you do Passbook or Apps to implement iBeacons, there is a stack of planning and implementation to get this running. At this stage iBeacon needs technical people to get a deployment
- Proximity Magic – iBeacons transmit “radio” signals – so reception varies. Problems include: iBeacon signal overlap, over-promising how accurate proximity will be. What happens when your phone is in your handbag
- “Me, Me, Me” Magic – iBeacons will become pervasive. Why will a shopper prefer your Popup in comparison to all the other Popups in Passbook. Apple’s current implementation is to silently show the Passbook, so its a high probability your user won’t see your coupon. My discussion above on Apps shows that if a user is already engaged with your Brand/Location/Venue/Retailer then you are going to get the best engagement and response rates.
- “One Beacon to Rule them All” Magic – Passbook is on Apple only – forget about Android users. In the US, EU, Australia this is roughly 50% of customers you are missing. In Asia Android penetration is much higher so the Apple users are a small part of your customer base. Some startups are doing Passbook things on Android but its not automagically installed on Android phones.
Hate 3: No talk of cost of ownership – Here is how it will play out…..
- you’ve deployed iBeacons and your campaigns but you don’t seem to be getting much response.
- Investigation reveals that your iBeacon near the front-door of the store has gone missing. Yep, stolen or “souvenired”. The replacement is more than $30 for the device, there is the setup of the new iBeacon ID’s and associated campaign configs.
- Not stolen? So you shake it a bit, give it a bang on the cash register but still no luck. Its probably got a flat battery. Some vendors are cleverly and correctly providing monitoring but you also have to provide the data paths to get that info back to a central monitoring platform, so that introduces security holes that IT are going to want to audit.
- Customer Hijacking – its possible to sniff other iBeacons. That means (as far as I can tell) your competitors could have an App that pops up a message when your customer enters your store – enticing them to come to their shop!
So there you have it. A quick fun post on the practicalities of introducing a new gizmo into your mobile marketing initiatives. The iBeacon technology wave will have great benefits but we think the big VALUE will be found in Apps.