Thinking Tech

NFC trial brings outdoor ads to life in the UK

NFC trial brings outdoor ads to life in the UK

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Advertising trial with 13 consumer brands shows potential for outdoor ads that interact with mobile phones.

There’s still debate over the practical applications of near-field communications (NFC) technology, but as more phones gain NFC support, more companies are willing to test out what the wireless tech can do.

For marketing purposes, a recent study in the United Kingdom found that NFC can be a useful tool for attracting consumer attention to outdoor advertisements. During a four-week trial in March, more than 3,000 people interacted with ads from 13 different brands. And when they were offered video content, 28% chose to download it to their phones using near-field communications. That number jumped to 49% when consumers were offered content labeled as previously unseen.

The promise of NFC tech is untethered, point-to-point communication between mobile phones and any other object with broadcasting capability. That object could be another phone, a physical ad, a payment reader, or virtually anything else. It’s still early days for NFC, however, and the technology is far from widespread.

There are also some concerns about NFC tech. Some organizations – and even countries – are starting to investigate the use of NFC to track individuals through chips embedded in tokens and identity cards. Those types of deployments have significant privacy implications, and spark fears of big-brother-like oversight.

As for NFC-enabled ads, the UK trial proves there is marketing potential for the technology as long as companies have something compelling to offer. The big question though, is whether the technology will progress beyond the novelty phase, and whether consumers will tire of NFC-enabled ads if and when they become commonplace.

The UK test was conducted by media buying firm Kinetic, and the outdoor ad company JCDecaux. Participating brands included Mercedes, Magnum and Vaseline, among others. Of participating consumers, 87% said they would likely repeat the experience.

Via MediaWeek

Photo credit: Kinetic Worldwide

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Mari Silbey

Contributing Editor

Mari Silbey is an independent tech writer based in Washington, D.C. With a background in cable and telecom, she's a contributor to several trade publications, and part of the GigaOM analyst network. She also writes for the long-running digital media blog Zatz Not Funny, and has written for both corporate and association clients focused on broadband networks, mobile apps, and video delivery. She's a graduate of Duke University. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure