Sales & Marketing

A new era of marketing: 500 London buses set to receive a beacon tech makeover

4 min read

08 July 2015

Beacon technology on buses will enable advertisers to push targeted offers and content to commuters as they travel around London.

Now that consumers are more open to receiving branded communications through their smartphones and tablets, 63 per cent of marketers are looking to combine in-store tactics with mobile strategies, according to a report by RadiumOne and WBR Digital. One of the biggest trends, it suggested, was that of beacon technology.

A trial at London’s Pimlico Underground station, aimed to assist blind and partially sighted people to navigate independently, proves the scope of the research. At the same time, Barclays is using beacon technology to improve accessibility for customers with disabilities.

Retailers such as Bentall, House of Fraser and Hawes & Curtis have also installed devices in mannequins to send information about clothes on display to consumers.

The latest move to encourage shoppers back to the high street via beacon technology involves 500 London buses being fitted with beacons by advertising business Exterion Media. The technology, which has been developed by Proxama, sends in-app messages via bluetooth depending on what “trigger zones” people are travelling in.

For example, a commuter could receive a discount coupon on their mobile as they pass a particular store or a trailer for a movie as they near a cinema. 

According to Proxama, targeting consumers on the move and while away from home is an effective way of attracting business, as it is “more likely to prompt immediate action”.

The scheme follows a six month trial on 110 buses in Norwich conducted by the two firms. It saw 30 per cent of users click through from receipt of notification and 2,000 app downloads. Exterion’s online urban community work.shop.play. also found London to have the highest penetration of smartphones (94 per cent) in the UK. 

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The trial in Norwich highlighted that consumers are open to receiving content via their mobile devices while they travel, said Jon Worley, CEO of Proxama Marketing Division. 

Coupled with this, the average journey on a bus in London is estimated to be between 17-19 minutes. 

“We are continually seeking new and innovative ways to connect brands with consumers and this solution will engage audiences on the move in a way that builds meaningful and mutually beneficial relationships,” said Exterion’s UK MD, Jason Cotterrell.

He suggested that the future of OOH engagement was the ability to deliver a personal experience, and “with so many people keeping smartphones handy during bus trips, it made sense to combine the two”. 

Exterion’s aim is to deploy this technology across the nation, providing full connectivity across buses in the UK.

The push from Exterion comes as it competes for the rights to Transport for London’s (TfL) underground advertising business. In May, the organisation invited media companies to pitch for the £1bn account as part of its wider bid to generate £3.4bn in non-fare revenue over the next ten years.