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Cannes

4 Ways Beacons Are Helping People Network at Cannes

Festival tests the technology for a 2nd year

This year's Cannes Lions festival isn't short on mobile technology for networking. Marketing-video platform Virool made a Tinder-like mobile site, and you can order a glass of rosé through an Apple Watch app.

The festival itself is testing out beacon technology in the official Cannes Lions app for the second year in row, upping the number of location-based devices set up around venues from fewer than 10 last year to 100.

The Cannes Lions app was created by Eventbase, which also powered beacons at this year's South by Southwest Interactive. Adweek talked to Jeff Sinclair, co-founder of Eventbase, about this year's app and four different scenarios that beacons will enhance (or annoy, depending on who you are).

1. The Around Me section of the app employs location-based targeting to find people who have check into venues. Festival goers can also see which sessions are the buzziest.

2. On top of the geo-targeting, the app crawls LinkedIn profiles to connect online connections offline. And as many ad executives know from cold LinkedIn pitches, that often means meeting someone in real life for the first time.

3.  The app sends out mass push notifications to everyone about schedule changes and information about the event. There's also a planner to map out which sessions people want to go to and a section with videos from presentations.

4. If the beacons detect that someone has stayed in a session for 15 minutes or more, the app will automatically save the session as a favorite. The liked panels then serve as a virtual icebreaker for attendees to find common interests.

"We're trying to work on that nirvana use case where you walk into a room and networking can be quite awkward—how do you decide who to talk to?" Sinclair said. "With the app, you can actually see everyone else who is checked in at that venue, reach out to them and focus on the people who are the highest-value connections to you."

So, has this type of beacon-level targeting caught on with real-world networking apps like Tinder and Match? Not yet, Sinclair said.

"Most of the use cases you read about in the media are related to retail—you walk into a store, you get a coupon," he said. "A big part of it at Cannes Lions is we just want to expose people to this technology, and they're going to find creative ways to apply these use cases outside of these events."

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