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How many quick response (QR) codes do you see on posters in a day? Now, how many near field communication (NFC) codes do you tap in a month? If you don’t know how to answer that question, you’re not alone; NFC is being touted by many as “the next big marketing tool”. Here’s a hint: if you have ever used Google’s Mobile Wallet application, you’ve used NFC.
NFC is a short range wireless radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology, making it possible for users to simply touch or hover over an application and share information, such as sharing contact information or making a payment. NFC is the driving force behind technology such as Google’s Mobile Wallet, which allows users to store credit card information on their smartphone using an app, and to pay for purchases in store by swiping their phone over the terminal during checkout. The Walt Disney Company has been researching RFID technology, and has now announced their plan to create MagicBand bracelets that use NFC to allow Disney Theme Park guests to access park entrances, pay for purchases, and enter hotel rooms, all with one tap of their wrist. The potential opportunities for user interaction using NFC technology are exciting, but is all of the hype worth it?
NFC may sound like the next big marketing tool for companies, but don’t expect it to explode just yet. Although many Android smart phones have this technology, Apple has yet to incorporate it into any of their devices, eliminating about half of target markets from the capability to tap into your advertisement. Furthermore, there are too few ways to differentiate NFC from a QR reader, which has been met with mixed success. Running a NFC campaign may just confuse customers and even turn some away.
Although some brands, such as Google and The Walt Disney Company, have taken advantage of this technology and are making it more convenient than ever for customers to complete transactions with Google Wallet and get around the Disney theme parks, NFC’s will have greater success once the technology is available for everyone. In a few years when more of the technology is developed, society will be more accepting of keeping their wallet in a cloud and tapping their phones to share data. We don’t expect NFC to be the NEXT big marketing tool, but we’re excited to see just where it is a year from now.