With declining print circulation, rising online consumer expectations for free digital content and the ever-present issue of ad-blocking, news publishers are operating in an increasingly challenging landscape. Over the past few years, many international media brands have dramatically altered their revenue models and value proposition. They have embraced data services, harnessed the experiential value of events and earned revenue by selling targeted audience across platforms.

What’s clear is the most successful publishers embrace new advances in technology and actively seek out growing revenue opportunities.


Digital Proximity 

One new way that news publishers can leverage their reach to boost ad revenue is location-based retargeting. Digital audience data can reveal a huge amount about individual customers’ preferences. When this data is coupled with location-based technology, such as iBeacons, client brands can deliver unique marketing initiatives to engage their target audience and subsequently retarget users through the publisher platform.

Two recent iBeacon-based projects in both Norway and Sweden demonstrate how physical retargeting can be highly effective in connecting both off and online behaviour.


Knorr Soup Experiment in Stockholm

In November 2014, as per Venturebeat, a Knorr food truck in chilly Stockholm offered free warm samples of the brand’s tomato and Thai soups. Visitors could eat it on the spot or go home with samples. It set up iBeacons on the truck, and several people handing out samples were equipped with battery-powered iBeacons in their pockets.Visitors to the truck who had the popular Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet app preinstalled, as well as having location services turned on, were registered by the iBeacons as having been there.

iBeacons, the Apple-backed implementation of beacon technology, are small devices that repeatedly transmit a unique location identifier via Bluetooth. A mobile app in a customer’s smartphone will note the ID, and transmit it back to a publisher or advertiser via Wi-Fi or cellular data. This indicates that the user is standing, say, at the Knorr truck.

The usual iBeacon scenario is that the publisher or advertiser then immediately sends a location-specific ad, coupon, or other marketing communication to the user in the store. The idea is that you’re more likely to buy that new game — or soup — right then.

Instead of immediately pushing a coupon for Knorr soup to the user, the approach in this instance was to wait: as in, wait until the next time the user opens the Aftonbladet app. It could be that evening, or days or weeks later. Then, on the first screen of the app, the user sees a discount coupon to buy Knorr soup at any Stockholm grocery store.

This more refined use of Beacon marketing, where the marketing move is saved for later, ensures that the publisher’s online readership and the brand’s target audience is not unnecessarily subjected to intrusive push messaging.


Coke Cinema Trial in Norway
Similarly, in Norway, a recent iBeacon cinema trial generated impressive results for Coke and VG, Norway’s largest newspaper. Coke offered a free soda to get the initial click — from 24% of moviegoers — and then used the VG mobile app to find those people later to offer a free movie ticket if they returned. This data exchange was facilitated by proximity network Unacast. The retargeting effort delivered a stunning 60% click-through and an almost-as-impressive 20% redemption rate.

As evidenced in the two examples above, there is huge potential here for publishers to collaborate with major CPG (consumer-packaged goods) brands to deliver targeted digital proximity campaigns. Beacon technology has the potential to transform every industry specifically retail, events, entertainment, and travel. It is also a great way for CPG companies that lack a direct relationship with consumers to begin a dialogue and build brand loyalty.

Tomorrow’s successful media and publishing empires are focusing on the development of new sources of growth that leverage mobile and emerging consumer trends to effectively target and engage audiences. It’s crucial for brands to start thinking of their website and app as a platform instead of just a billboard. A platform where you can bring relevant advertisers to have a meaningful dialogue with your community without disrupting them.