A few weeks ago Exact Editions introduced a new way of promoting magazine apps. Publishers can now promote their magazine apps by making them freely available at specific locations. We are now working on the tools that will be needed for publishers to set up these promotional opportunities ByPlace™ for themselves. Expect further announcements about this in early January.

However promotion by geo-location is only one part of our concept for promotion ByPlace™, we are even more excited by the potential for ByPlace™ promotion using the iBeacons which have been getting significant attention since Apple’s endorsement of the devices with the launch of iOS 7.

iBeacons are small, low powered devices, that use Bluetooth to interact with iPhones and iPads. They are powered by watch-type batteries and can run for a year or more as a simple transmitter or beacon.


An iBeacon next to a cup of tea

These iBeacons can be used by the Exact Editions app platform in much the same way as we can use geo-locations. Just as specific geocoordinates can be used to unlock access to Music Week in the vicinity of Abbey Road, so an iBeacon can function as an ‘unlocking device’ for the appropriate apps in its vicinity. The iBeacon can be stuck on the ceiling, or posted on a pillar and the associated apps will be freely available within about 15 metres of the location. Several apps can be attached to the iBeacon, and the allocation can be altered remotely, as and when needed.

Promotion using a geolocation and using an iBeacon are broadly parallel, but they meet different use cases, and the delivery of ByPlace™ functionality through iBeacons has particular attractions for venues and private spaces. In particular the use of iBeacons give publishers the opportunity to sell subscriptions targeting a cafe, a hotel, an airline or a first class lounge.

Exact Editions expects that selling subscriptions attached to iBeacon delivery will be particularly attractive to a magazine with a niche audience, and one that will be particularly associated with corresponding venues. The principal advantages for the venues are as follows:

  1. Suitable content can be selected (eg film magazines for a cinema wifi zone, fashion magazines for an arty venue, finance or business magazines for a location in the City or in an airline lounge etc.)
  2. The venue can choose its content to suit its audience, and the iBeacon will generate statistics which indicate which magazines are most used and when.
  3. There will be discreet but noticeable in-app branding for the venue, through the use of ‘courtesy panes’ within the app, stating the sponsorship eg “When Saturday Comes brought to you by courtesy of Bar Kick”.
  4. As the venues get statistics on the usage of the apps that they host, and as they get in-app credit for the use of those apps, they will be able to measure to an extent the degree to which freely magazine apps generate repeat business. The customer who really enjoys his app and walks out with the app synced to his iPhone has a reason to buy a subscription in iTunes, but he also has a reason to return to the bar where he got some free access.

There are other reasons why iBeacons appear to be ideally suited to the new opportunity of selling mini-site-licenses, but these four  drivers appear to be especially compelling. Venues can choose, venues can measure, venues get credit, and venues can see repeat business. This has the makings of a virtuous circle. Bar Kick since yesterday has an iBeacon installation for When Saturday Comes and for Dazed & Confused. As Daryl Rayner, Exact Editions Managing Director, points out: “This is a world first: the first iTunes newsstand apps accessed by iBeacon. Not in Silicon Valley, not in Silicon Alley nor in Silicon Fen, but within kicking distance of Silicon Roundabout.”

We will be making more announcements about this breakthrough technology and the way that magazine apps can use iBeacons next week.