Chances are, you’ve heard of NFC. However, you might not understand what it does or why it may be important. NFC stands for Near Field Communication a technology imbued in a small number of Android smart phone devices. That “small” number is soon poised to change however as Samsung is set to release its Galaxy S 3, its latest and most powerful smartphone, with full NFC capabilities.
Samsung’s new phone begins the era when all new phones will be embedded with NFC, including the iPhone 5 in the near future. NFC enthusiasts are salivating over a future where things like credit cards, bus passes, house keys, and parking meters will all be completely hands free, their data emanating through to a smart phone radio signal faster and more efficient than anything Bluetooth or Wi-Fi could provide. Apps like Google Wallet, Social Passport, Paybyphone, Farebot, Mastercard Paypass, and many others will make all this convenience possible, all while providing digital (and traditional) marketers hundreds, if not thousands, of new ways to reach our audiences.
So, how should we take advantage? For me, NFC tech provides the path to the most fluid melding of the physical and digital worlds ever perceived (so far). Below I describe just a few of the ways that NFC tech could change our social marketing world:
Easy Payments, Bigger Data
You’ve just walked into your local GameStop looking to purchase a new videogame. A booth at the entrance surrounds a shiny new copy of [insert game here]. You’ve heard about the game, but haven’t seen anything online that’s caught your attention yet. You notice a tile on the game booth which you then lightly swipe with your smartphone (Check out TecTiles (or tags); these things will allow likes, posts, views, and check-ins or any other command at the movement of your hand). In milliseconds a social media feed appears that’s tracking the top trends about the game from several of the top social channels in a live feed. A button pops on the bottom right, “BUY NOW for 25% off.” Impressed by the series of posts you see from different social channels, you hit the buy button which instantly processes the transaction for that store, seamlessly transferring highly encrypted bank account information via Google wallet directly to the current GameStop store system. Your transaction coincides with a Facebook post “John Doe just bought [insert game here] at Gamestop for 25% off.”Now, each social channel that you use understands through tracking social data that you actually purchased a videogame, thus allowing ads to be served that are more refined than ever before.
Physical Facebook “likes”, YouTube views, Foursquare “check-ins”, etc, etc.
Actually opening your phone, opening the Facebook app, and then finding something you want to “like” on a smart phone will become a tedious process with the possibilities of NFC. Does your client want to spread the word about a nationwide promotion? Build a print ad with an imbedded Tag. Anytime someone touches it with their phone the promotion will show up on their Facebook wall (or multiple channels), instantly sharing it with hundreds of his or her friends. Restaurants without a “check-in” tag will fall off the radar. Upon entrance, anyone will be able to “check-in” in with the simple touch of their phone. NFC will also make group check-in’s seamless; NFC tech allows two phones to be connected via Wi-Fi by simply touching them together thus it could allow instant recognition of groups walking into a Restaurant or store. YouTube will no longer be just online video; NFC will allow complete transparency for video views, on the street or on your computer.
Instant Content Transfer and Gamification
TecTiles or Tags not only have the ability to perform a “like” or a “check-in”, they can also quickly transfer content. The possibilities of exclusive mp3s, competitions, coupons, videos, and games will create a whole new dynamic in social marketing. Most exciting in my mind is the possibilities for Gamification. Imagine playing a Facebook game (or any other online game) and getting to a certain point that tells you to actually go do something; like visit a store, landmark, or any other location with the incentive of more points or exclusive content. This will take gamification to a whole new level.
These are just a few of the ways NFC tech could change our social marketing world. The bottom line: NFC makes the line between what we know as “traditional” and digital marketing nearly non-existent; a seamless melding of the digital and the physical.
Cameron Warren is an Assistant Media Planner Intern at Razorfish SFO. He has no idea what the heck API, CMO, RFP, IOD or Brand [insert adjective/noun here] actually mean, but is trying to learn. Follow him on Twitter at @camwarrenm if you want to see if he figures it out.