While not necessarily new, NFC has become one of the hottest technologies in the digital space and one of our favorites here at the Plum Tree Group. Its simplicity and functionality allows our clients to seamlessly connect their traditional and digital marketing in a meaningful–and trackable!–way.
Without further ado, here is a quick breakdown of what NFC is, why it has suddenly become so relevant, and what it all means for you.
What It Is
NFC, standing for Near Field Communication, is a form of passive technology that connects the real word with the digital world. It requires two things to work: a chip, which can be easily embedded within many forms of traditional marketing (like in-store and out of home signage, mailers, t-shirts, etc.), and a reader (for many this can mean an NFC enabled phone).
The technology works such that when the reader is brought within range, usually within an inch, to the NFC chip, the chip communicates with the reader. Once the two are close enough, the chip can send information, direct the reader to a specific site, or ask it to perform a specific command.
Why It Matters Now
While the technology has been around for some time, it has only recently begun to become popular. This is for a few reasons.
- The colossal failure of QR Codes.
Thought to be the future, QR Codes, for a multitude of reasons, never actualized its potential. NFC’s ability to deliver the desired results, without the added steps and required application, ultimately allowed the technology to gather momentum.
- Who’s going to carry a reader with them?
This problem was effectively solved for the moment Android began to include NFC technology within each of their phones. Android currently holds a massive share of the smartphone market, 78% as of 2013, which means that an NFC reader was now in the hands of the majority of the smartphone using public.
Apple, one of the last holdouts, also began including NFC technology in the iPhone 6. Which means that nearly all new smartphones on the market include this technology.
What It Means (& How Can I Use It?)
All of this is to say, it has never been easier to bridge the gap between your in-store or out of home experience and the digital space.
Bridging that gap is as easy creating the traditional media, with the NFC chip embedded, and figuring out what exactly you want the chip to do when it interacts with an NFC reader.
Are you launching a new product and want to send the user to a special microsite to learn more?
Do you have a how-to video that they’d find interesting?
Would you like to send them to the app store to check out your brand new app?
In addition to connecting your digital and traditional assets, NFC also allows you to track the value of your traditional marketing in real time. With this information, it becomes even easier to optimize your future campaigns, so that your users are provided with the content they find most engaging.
Another use of NFC, one you’ve probably already seen in your day-to-day lives, allows users to use the technology (with their card or phone) to pay for their purchase. Many credit cards now include NFC chips that let you tap your card against a reader to pay. This secure payment method continues to simplify the point of sale and expedite the entire process. It is for this reason that the city of Chicago transitioned their entire transit system to NFC, where riders can use both plastic and throwaway cards to pay for their rides.
Interested in exploring NFC and how it can help your traditional and digital marketing efforts? Let’s sit down and talk about this more.