February 26th, 2014

Really real real-time: Urban Airship adds iBeacon functionality


Really real real-time: Urban Airship adds iBeacon functionality

Portland’s Urban Airship was into the whole “push notification” game early. And they’ve managed to continue to lead the way as that market matures. Now, they’re getting into another complementary technology early. One that promises to drastically change the way companies communicate with their customers and would be customers. Urban Airship now supports iBeacon.

What’s iBeacon? It’s a new Apple technology that uses remote sensors to extend the communications potential of iOS devices.

iBeacon is a new technology that extends Location Services in iOS. Your iOS device can alert apps when you approach or leave a location with an iBeacon. In addition to monitoring location, an app can estimate your proximity to an iBeacon (for example, a display or checkout counter in a retail store). Instead of using latitude and longitude to define the location, iBeacon uses a Bluetooth low energy signal, which iOS devices detect.

That means that UA powered push notifications—which already had the capability to use latitude and longitude clues—can now get much more granular.

For the first time in the industry, every swipe on a push message, tap on a landing page, or proximity to an iBeacon can trigger a real-time response, or build richer mobile audience segments for better targeting and deeper personalization over time. For example, a shopper might walk into a children’s clothing department triggering an iBeacon message with the week’s in-store specials, and also become part of a children’s clothing audience segment for a back-to-school campaign later that year.

Marketers can more easily react to campaign responses and other customer behaviors—including inactivity—by defining triggers and messaging sequences spanning push, in-app messages and deep-linked landing pages. As one example, apps can more effectively on-board new users by automatically triggering a welcome message that highlights key features the day after first app open. Subsequent messages can be tailored to focus on different app functionality based on users’ interactions with the first message—creating an adaptive, multi-step welcome series.

Yup. That means push notifications can get really real real-time. For reals. And we’re one step closer to Minority Report shopping experiences.

It will be interesting to see where this goes. And how companies use this new offering to customize their conversations with customers. No doubt, UA will be spending time helping those customers make the best use of this new technology.

For more information, see the Urban Airship post on their iBeacon functionality.

[Full disclosure: Urban Airship is a PIE alum. I am a cofounder of PIE.]

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