Clear Channel Outdoor Americas has partnered with several companies to track billboard viewers’ behavior through their mobile phones, raising privacy concerns. However, retailers’ experiments with beacons suggest that the technology could be slow to catch up with the hype.

Hundreds of major retail chains experimented with beacons in 2015, and even airports and cinemas are using the devices to supply customers with location-based information. Business Insider predicted that beacons would influence over $4 billion worth of top U.S. retailers’ sales in 2015.

But this optimistic assessment belies the fact that beacons are a long way from mainstream adoption. None of the brands in L2’s Insight Report: Beacons were able to develop a robust and scalable system for customized offers. And even when beacons were successfully rolled out, in-store tests often revealed continued glitches.

These obstacles make many reluctant to engage with beacons. Almost a third of marketers surveyed in 2015 had not even entertained the idea of using the technology.

Beacons and geotargeting

Lord & Taylor’s failed implementation provides a cautionary example to brands eager to invest in beacons for the first time. In 2014, the brand announced it would expand the technology to all of its stores in the U.S., partnering with technology company Swirl and the third-party coupon app SnipSnap. However, L2’s study finds that even with all three apps downloaded and the correct settings turned on, the beacons failed to send notifications.

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