SBJ/June 16-22, 2014/Facilities

AEG deploys iBeacon tech at Staples, L.A. Live

AEG will begin a significant installation of iBeacon mobile technology at the Staples Center and L.A. Live complex in Los Angeles, the beginning of what the company intends to be a broad rollout across its portfolio of venues.

Evidence of the company’s bullishness in the concept is that it’s part of the investor group that now holds a majority stake in Gimbal Inc., a San Diego-based company that last month spun off from prior parent company Qualcomm and has been actively working in the space. Qualcomm remains a significant investor, but the spinoff was designed to make Gimbal more agile in what is a fast-evolving space.

AEG’s installation of the location-specific technology, which sends targeted messages to fans’ mobile devices as they pass various spots in a facility, is seeking to advance the initial deployments of iBeacons by linking them to its in-house fan analytics system.

AEG’s overarching goal is to create highly specific iBeacon messaging instead of more generic notifications seen in some venues to date. Among the planned initiatives are to use iBeacons as a tool for specifically targeted and immediate ticket upgrade offers, such as what occurs manually using various customer relationship management systems.

The first event to use AEG’s iBeacon deployment will be the 2014 BET Experience at L.A. Live scheduled for June 27-29. The AEG-owned Los Angeles Kings will then be among the first teams to take advantage of the buildout, with messaging to incorporate several areas such as ticketing, concessions, team content and fan loyalty.

Future installations are being eyed for other AEG-owned venues such as The O2 Arena in London.

“We’ve spent a lot of time studying this and figuring how best to connect the iBeacons to our various brands and then to our fans on a really granular level,” said Bryan Perez, AEG president of digital, ticketing and media. “We have to get the messaging right, because if users turn their notifications off, they’re hard to get back on. It has to be the right kind of message to the right person at the right time. But we’re very big believers in this technology.”

Gimbal technology is also being deployed by MLB Advanced Media and was used by the NFL during Super Bowl XLVIII earlier this year in New York and New Jersey. Financial details were not available regarding AEG’s pending installations, but Perez said it was not cost-prohibitive, particularly when compared to the vast realm of data that can be gleaned.

“There’s been a lot of education already in the market around beacons, and I now see a new level of maturity around this,” said Kevin Hunter, Gimbal chief operating officer. “As we’ve done more installations and had more case histories, clients are now coming to us with very specific goals they’re looking to achieve.”

AEG’s investment in Gimbal follows a similar equity stake it gained last year in Bypass Lane, an Austin-based mobile concessions technology company.

“We’ve made a strategic point of investing in other companies that enhance the live event experience,” Perez said. “That was clearly the intent of what we’re doing with Bypass Lane, and here again with Gimbal.”

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