The long-awaited plan to turn London’s buses into giant, mobile iBeacons has finally come into fruition.

Proximity marketing specialist Proxama has launched the UK’s “largest beacon experience”, transforming 500 Transport for London buses with iBeacon technology, putting an estimated 300,000 passengers in the firing line for moment marketers.

The joint operation combines out-of-home ad business Exterion Media’s bus beacon network with Proxama’s in-house platform, while Mapway – a leading publisher of transport apps for mobile – has integrated Proxama’s mobile SDK into its ‘Bus Times London’ app.

This app is currently available only to Android users, while an iOS version awaits a roll-out to the App Store later this month.

Captive audience

With bus travel in London accounting for over half of all bus journeys in the UK, Proxama is looking to tap into a captive audience within a “dwell time” of 17 minutes on average, firing out real-time travel updates and contextual in-app ads.

Brands already utilising beacon-triggered advertising have reported higher consumer engagement levels; photo print company Sticky9 has seen an average click-through rate of 14.5%, a cut above a typical levels of 1-2%.

However, it’s the real-time travel updates that are proving to be the most effective way of grabbing commuters’ attention, earning some 44% of clicks.

Norwich trials

Some time in the making, Proxama’s London launch comes as a result of successful trials in Norwich, which bore witness to click-through rates of 30% following receipt of targeted notifications.

Recent tests bode well for campaigns in the capital, where smartphone penetration is at its highest in the UK (94%). It’s worth noting that as early implementation may have already shown, the average consumer in London may be a tad more ‘ad-resilient’.

Jon Worley, CEO of Proxama’s Marketing Division, called the collaboration a “huge milestone” for the proximity marketing industry, with 2.3 billion passenger journeys made on London buses a year.

“App owners are looking for ways to increase active user numbers and establish new sources of revenue, and beacons can deliver on both objectives,” he commented.