QR codes are dead: NFC technology is the future

Near field communication (NFC) is a contactless Wi-Fi-lite technology that works by using a short-range, low-power wireless link that evolved from radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology.

NFC enables the transfer of small amounts of data between two devices held a few centimetres from each other. An NFC-enabled device can also connect with an NFC tag, which can come in the form of a sticker, key fob or card that does not require a battery. This opens up endless possibilities for marketers to use NFC tags on everything from magazines to billboards. The big difference between NFC and Bluetooth is there is no pairing code or battery needed. This makes NFC technology very versatile and useful.

Common use cases of NFC technology

There are lots of opportunities to use NFC in your everyday life and within your company. I’ve broken down the different use cases into three categories: marketing, mobile payments and personal.

Marketing use cases

NFC tags are very exciting for marketers. Since they can be used as stickers and contain a small, unpowered NFC chip, they are very versatile. Here are some common marketing examples:

  • Use NFC in posters and next to products inside retail shops to link to additional information via a URL or video.
  • Place them inside magazines and take the reader to additional story information.
  • Use NFC at bus stops to link to bus timetables and maps.
  • NFC helps companies provide their customers with more information in the easiest possible way. Remember QR codes? They were a pain because you had to rely on a customer downloading a QR receiver, opening it up and snapping a photo. With NFC, customers simply touch their NFC-enabled phone against the NFC tag/sticker/chip and instantly the information (website, video, map, timetable, etc.) is delivered to the device.
  • Throw away those QR code campaigns and start planning for NFC. Over the next four years, we’re going to see four times as many people with NFC-enabled devices. As more and more customers gain access to this technology, you will need to start thinking about how you can adopt it and use it inside your marketing in clever and creative ways.

NFC mobile payment use cases

Mobile payments made a big leap in 2014. We saw Google roll out Google Wallet a few years ago and Apple release Apply Pay in 2014. Both of these mobile payment apps are using NFC to facilitate transactions between retailers, customers and banks.

NFC mobile payments works like this:

  • Tap your phone on the credit card terminal and a connection is made via NFC (you must have the payment application open on your phone).
  • You are then asked to scan your finger (Apply Pay) or enter a passcode to approve the transaction.
  • Transaction is then validated with a separate chip called the secure element (SE), which relays the authorisation back to the NFC modem.
  • Payment processes the same way it would with a traditional credit card swipe transaction.

Pretty simple. In the future, we’ll be throwing away our credit cards completely and using our mobile devices to facilitate transactions.

Personal use cases

Let’s not forget about all the creative personal uses that NFC can provide. Since NFC tags can be used as small stickers, you can place them conveniently everywhere.

Essentially, you can program the NFC tag to do what you want it to do. You can change various settings, launch apps and perform certain actions just by holding your phone against the NFC tag. When you combine this technology with the thousands of useful mobile apps, there are some really creative, time-saving things you can do.

Here are a few of my favourites:

  • In the car: Let it turn on your Bluetooth so your smartphone automatically connects to your radio or headset and plays your favourite playlist or turns on your phone’s GPS and opens Google Maps.
  • Turn on your computer remotely: Imagine coming home, tapping an NFC tag at your entrance which automatically turns on your PC or laptop. You need a few apps to be able to do this, but it’s possible (here’s a step-by-step guide by reddit user Captainmathmo).
  • In your wallet as a business card: Stop carrying around business cards and use an NFC tag inside your wallet that includes your contact details and can be scanned by others.

NFC and video: What are the possibilities?

There are big opportunities for you to harness NFC and use video to deliver useful and valuable information to your customers. Using NFC tags, you can take customers from the real world and link them to a promotional or product video. Here are two cases of how you can use NFC and video:

Product information in store

This is a quick win for many retailers. Use NFC to take customers to product videos that show how your product works. High-end fashion retailer Vic is piloting an in-store NFC experience at its shop in Groningen, the Netherlands, allowing customers to access product information, vouchers and promotional videos using their mobile phone.

nfc pic

So far it’s been working well.  Jouke De Jong, sales and marketing manager at Vic, says the NFC tags are more popular than the QR codes because “they are very simple to use.”

“It is definitely something we hope to keep in our store going forward into the future; it is our way of connecting our online and offline worlds.”

Marketing promotion at a bus stop

Samsung was an early adopter of NFC technology and used it creatively in a marketing campaign in New York City. The company embedded NFC technology inside a bus stop billboard and encouraged people walking by to tap to receive a music video download as part of a Samsung music promotion.

Check it out here:

NFC technology offers marketers exciting new opportunities

As a marketer, you’re always looking for creative ways to engage and communicate with your audience. NFC technology is gaining popularity and as more people start using NFC-enabled devices, more and more marketers will start experimenting with NFC-driven marketing campaigns.

If you’re a business with a retail store, it makes sense to start exploring this technology straight away. Picture being able to direct customers to promotional and product videos while they are in your store.

If you’re doing a lot of content marketing, NFC also makes sense. Picture being able to take your audience from the offline world – magazine, billboard, poster – to the online world and continue the conversation with them through a video or micro-website.

Endless opportunities for savvy marketers. If you want to chat more about how you can use NFC and video in your next marketing campaign, give Creativa a call on 1300 901 858.

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