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WeChat introduces iBeacon to the media industry with CCTV partnership

WeChat and China Central Television are leading the charge in bringing iBeacon technology into the media industry with a recent pilot targeting tourists during the International Workers Day holiday. 

The Chinese television network bridged the gap between iBeacons and media brands during the recent holiday weekend at numerous tourist destinations, with the help of mobile messaging application WeChat, which is widely popular in China. CCTV engaged with more than 150,000 tourists through the messaging app and iBeacons for surveys, in which consumers shared photos, videos, complaints and emergency news clues. 

"The iBeacon user scenario create a new channel for CCTV to communicate with its audience," said Vivian Li, global business development director at Sensoro, the developer behind the technology used by CCTV.ff "Its audience can directly send news to CCTV to take part as the role of a reporter.

"CCTV can post surveys and quickly get feedback from its audience," she said. "Humans have passion to share their experience as what they do in social network.

"The iBeacon user scenario provides another channel for its audience to share their experience."

Vacations with CCTV
Media and news brands have yet to unleash the capabilities of engaging viewers through iBeacon and CCTV?s unique usage of the technology shows the potential it can bring. 

During International Workers Day in China, the news brand encouraged users of WeChat, within the iBeacon locations, to participate in a survey to update the CCTV news program in real-time. The network is one of many other brands fighting to make its programming noticed. 

CCTV uses the user-generated information from Beacons in its news programming

Communicating with its audience in real-time, on-location such as this can benefit China Central Television in its effort to make its content known. This use of beacons may be something seen often in the future of media. 

The network took strides in making the user experience as simple as possible to entice consumers to engage through the platform. WeChat is a substantial part of this, as users did not have to download a new app to get involved in the survey, but rather the brand partnered with an app that already has a significant user-base. 

The iBeacon program was located at various tourist destinations during a highly busy weekend for these locations, which means its potential to reach consumers was very high. The brand was able to engage more than 150,000 tourists. 

WeChat?s shake feature allows users to shake their smart phones and see other users in their area. Users within the iBeacon locations that used this featured were directed to an H5 page where they could participate in the survey answering questions and sharing content with CCTV. 

The future of beacons
Although media brands are not yet keen on using iBeacon, CCTV did access an industry where beacons are taking off. 

The technology is poised to take flight in airports in 2015, streamlining travel experiences while opening up opportunities for marketers to deliver personalized offers and gain valuable consumer insight (see more). 

CCTV and travel brands are not the only ones using beacons. Medea Vodka, known for its programmable LED displays integrated onto its bottles, leveraged Apple?s iBeacon Bluetooth technology to let consumers program personal messages on bottles from mobile devices (see more). 

"The traditional media like CCTV is facing the challenge and competition from internet media," Ms. Li said. "As the leader of Chinese traditional media, CCTC is piloting different ways to improve their news's agility and interactivity. 

"IBeacon based communication is part of the pilot," she said. "It has proved its value in the event and will continue improve in future."

Final take
Brielle Jaekel is editorial assistant at Mobile Marketer