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MLB: How intrusive can ballpark technology be?

Major League BaseballWith almost two-dozen teams implementing Apple’s iBeacon technology for personalized product pitches, MLB and BAM will find out how intrusive message alerts can be at the ballpark.

Personalized, targeted messaging is the Holy Grail of marketing these days: why waste time on a generalized message when you can target a potential buyer? Though it’s a little Blade Runner/Minority Report in its implications, several organizations — including MLB AM — are moving ahead with technology that allows smartphone users to received personalized messages based both on proximity and stated preferences. For instance, a fan could receive information on special offers at concessions stands or a team store, or information about a new offering. A key is to transmit the information without alienating users; another key is getting users to participate in the first place. And, of course, there’s the whole privacy issue: iBeacon technology lets the collector of data know your specific location at all times, and while in theory you’ll give consent when you click on the terms of service when installing an app, you may be surprised how the data is used in the future.

So there are lots of issues involved when these services debut. From The New York Times:

Robert Bowman, president and chief executive of MLB Advanced Media, the Internet arm of Major League Baseball, said stadiums were becoming “crucibles for technology.” But he said there was bold line between gentle marketing pitches and obnoxious upselling.

Where is that line?

“Welcome back, and last time you bought this jersey. This week, do you want to buy this jersey?” Mr. Bowman said, composing an unattractive smartphone advertisement on the fly. “To me, that’s crass commercialism.”

It will be interesting to see this technology in use.


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