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IAB taps beacons to greet 30K festival attendees

The Interactive Advertising Bureau recently teamed up with geo-targeting firm Sonata to combine the physical and digital world at Madrid?s 2014 Inspirational Festival by leveraging mobile to communicate with attendees and tapping beacons to send welcome messages to 30,000 unique users of the festival's mobile app.

More event marketers are eschewing print schedules and are instead turning to mobile to offer attendees conference materials such as agendas and maps. IAB?s decision to reach consumers attending the festival via their smartphones proved to be a fruitful one, as the organization saw 50 percent of users that downloaded the festival?s mobile app come to the event and interact with Sonata?s beacons in specific areas.

?It is extremely important, particularly as events continue to look for growth, to be able to direct attendees to the content that is most important to each individual,? said Alvaro del Castillo, CEO and founder of Sonata, Madrid, Spain. ?It allows the event marketers to harness the power of effective and relevant communication while measuring success of and interest in content, speakers, etc. 

?Mobile brings deep contextualization and personalization to the individual device,? he said. ?Up to the minute information can be easily provided to attendees who are at a certain location within the event while tailoring the message to ensure a smooth and relevant experience and repeat attendance.?

Augmenting communication
The IAB acknowledged that mobile is able to fill in many communication gaps at large-scale events, which can be rife with session cancellations, updated schedules and different meeting rooms. The company was also aiming to increase awareness of the Inspiration Festival and drive Spanish media executives in the area to attend the event.

This prompted the IAB to join forces with Sonata to launch a global campaign designed to connect media executives in Spain to the festival by driving app downloads, registrations and augmenting overall awareness. 

Attendees also received targeted mobile advertisements one week prior to the Inspirational Festival, with the campaign pinpointing individuals that were nearby top media agencies in Madrid.

During the event, Sonata beacons were able to track consumers? locations and send personalized mobile messages to their smartphones, smartwatch or tablet device. The IAB discovered that the beacons worked well with traditional advertising methods, and were able to measure attribution.

?Any marketer needs an ROI,? Mr. del Castillo said. ?Using digital platforms creates the opportunity to effectively target and measure the impact of the budget and time spent to attract the right attendees.?

Superior results
The IAB was able to complete its primary goals of driving festival attendance and awareness, prompting downloads of the mobile app and determining beacon success.

Results show that 30,000 unique users received welcome messages upon arrival and notifications of events occurring during the festival. Sonata saw a 1.7 percent rate of engagement with the festival map, which also offered users directions to the event.

Meanwhile, the company also saw 1.7 percent conversion of app downloads.

The beacons proved to be a success, with 50 percent of Inspirational Festival?s app users attending the event and interacting with the technology, which was placed in key areas such as nearby the Welcome Message and End of Day Messages.

The beacons also sent attendees notifications regarding the keynote and panel sessions, a strategy that may be useful for many other event marketers seeking to drive attendance numbers and ensure that consumers do not miss any sessions.

This tactic may become more popular as consumers flock to various wearables and smartwatches coming out in 2015.

?Smart watches give us the opportunity to notify consumers the through devices that are even more personal than a phone,? Mr. del Castillo said. ?The depth of the relationship these devices can be more discreet, customizable, and effective to the very specific consumer that the event is trying to attract and build relationships with.?

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York