There will be no shortage of outrageous Super Bowl ads on TV and the internet this weekend – as has been the case for the past decade. But this year, iPhone owners in the host borough of East Rutherford, New Jersey, and those in nearby New York City will be part of a whole new advertising playing field: pop-up alerts enabled by Apple's iBeacon software, as the New York Times reports.
Introduced along with iOS 7 last summer, iBeacons are Bluetooth-enabled text alerts that show up on an iPhone user's screen when he or she moves within a close distance of a stationary wireless transmitter (called a beacon). For the Super Bowl, iBeacon notifications will only show up for those who have installed the NFL Mobile app. The NFL has set up dozens of beacons around Times Square and MetLife Stadium, where the big game will unfold. The iBeacon alerts sent by these beacons will contain messages directing iPhone owners to merchandise, NFL exhibits, and shorter concessions lines.
iBeacons have previously made their way into a few Macy's and American Eagle stores, and transmitters are due to be installed at Major League Baseball ballparks later this year, but the Super Bowl marks "the boldest test yet" for the technology, according to the Times. Advertisers and privacy advocates are also cautious that an overzealous use of the system could actually drive prospective shoppers away from purchases. Concerns notwithstanding, it's a safe bet that Super Bowl XLVIII is only the beginning of a whole new advertising ballgame.