Our industry is encountering momentous change on a daily basis. In fact, our digital lives are changing so fast, we don’t even know it’s happening, because the ways in which we connect and communicate with the physical and internet worlds is now blurring. iBeacon technology is far from new, it has been around for some years now – however we have seen the mighty Apple getting increasingly involved in this area, as connectivity and customer interest grows in real-time location-based personalised offers. My interest in this area was piqued and went onto my ‘watch-list of technology applications’ when the US patent office released a patent application filed by Apple for an iBeacons Restaurant Ordering & Reservation System. The said patent was for a unique system whereby a user of an iOS device may be offered various options/ promotions for local restaurants. The system allows for waiting times and seating availability in real time, and remote and in-restaurant ordering systems that allow customers and restaurant staff to place and change food orders before you get there, so basically a variant of just-in-time technology for ordering food to eat. So what exactly are these ‘beacons’? Like many mobile users when placing a sports bet, we always encounter connection issues with mobile phones. For example, signal coverage problems are still common even with the advent of 4G and discreet placement of wireless masts, perhaps due to the barriers presented by physical structures such as shopping centres or football stadium, as well as poor connectivity and availability if more than ten people are connected to the network at any one time.
Beacons are low-cost, easy to deploy low-powered transmitters that can find and notify other iOS devices of your location using the latest Bluetooth technology. The beacons could, therefore, be used as a means to push messages to the phone device for precision or location-based marketing offers. Of course, we’ve been there before with Bluetooth, and it never quite progressed. But now with advancements in the size of tech – of the beacons, transmitters and smartphones packed with so much computing power – it could just transform how companies communicate with potential customers. Not only within an indoor environment but also via the actual journey a customer takes in the real physical world. Let us consider a large-scale sports gathering which offers betting opportunities, such as the forthcoming Cheltenham Festival or London derby between Arsenal and Chelsea, which both attract upwards of 50,000 fans. It’s very plausible to assume a significant percentage of those would have iPhones with the beacon compatibility. This may allow gaming operators, not needing to have mobile telephone numbers or email addresses to communicate in the traditional sense, to push prospective betting information in real-time based on location via the beacon tech at a fraction of the cost of having promotional models handing out leaflets or expensive static or digital advertising hoardings which don’t actually engage your potential in-stadium customers. It’s even possible to offer subscription-based content that adds value to the customer experience, or premium digital in-play betting content during the match. Similar in-style to the traditional football programme, this digital micro-content could help inform betting customers’ decision making and future bet placement via the beacon technology. So with an estimated 170-190 million iOS devices currently capable of being iBeacons, the technology is therefore a potential game changer.
In my view, the gambling world is ready for a Tinderstyle location-based application service. So perhaps the next time you see a promotional model for a betting company, she may not have any fliers to hand out, but instead be a walking mobile beacon, pushing discreet, personalised gambling notifications to your phone’s mobile app as she brushes past you in the stadium.
“The next time a promotional model for a betting company brushes past you in a stadium, she may not have any fliers to hand out, but will instead be a walking mobile beacon, pushing discreet, personalised gambling notifications to your phone.”