As more and more clients seek to create engaging online and offline campaigns, it becomes more and more imperative for agencies to try to close the loop by linking the physical world with the online world. This online to offline trend is giving rise to various new technologies such as mobile commerce, group buying and location-based services which results in a whole new influx of innovations like virtual dressing rooms and electronic wallets. Along with these advancements in new technology we also see a lot of innovation around existing technology such as RFID and now NFC which are enabling brands to engage with consumers in a whole new way.
How companies are innovating
Companies are constantly coming up with new ways to link the online and offline worlds utilising a variety of technologies.
EBay’s RedLaser makes use of mobile scanning allowing a user’s mobile device to scan a barcode off product packaging in-store to compare prices online and at other retailers.
Groupon’s use of Location Based Services in “Groupon Now” targets consumers with discount offers relevant to their physical location using their mobile device.
Korean based Tesco produced a QR code based virtual storefront allowing customers to turn their waiting time into shopping time.
We are seeing a lot of growth around location-based services as mobile applications make use of geographical positioning. In a report produced by JiWire this time last year they predicted that 89% of consumers would use location-based services for shopping services over the holiday period.
36% said descriptions of products and reviews would be the most valuable location-based service over the holidays followed by product inventory of nearby stores.
Marketers and brands are harnessing the power of location-based services to deliver the right message at the right time and now while in the right place. This creates a powerful opportunity to create a targeted user experience and provides a channel for brands to reach consumers closer to the point of purchase. Some of these services include online coupons, incentivised check-ins, restaurant services, dating services, exercise applications, travel and hotel services, and the list goes on and on.
RFID and closing the loop
RFID or Radio Frequency Identification is starting to pop up in various marketing campaigns and social media activities.
What is RFID? RFID technology consists of a small chip containing a small amount of data, and a powered antenna (the reader). RFID chips can be passive, meaning they require no power and can be quite small making them suitable for a variety of applications. Once the chip comes in close proximity to the radio-frequency signal put out by the reader, it triggers the RFID tag which transmits the relevant data to the reader.
RFID has been around for years and has traditionally been used in applications like;
- Inventory tracking
- Cattle tracking
- Security access
- Parking systems
- Electronic tolls
Recently the cost associated with RFID technology has decreased making RFID a more viable option for integrated marketing campaigns across online and offline.
RFID can work across digital marketing in numerous ways
- Social media integrations – sharing, likes, follow me and check-ins
- Event tracking – track your friends in real time at events and festivals
- Consumer loyalty – provide smart cards that integrate with online customer loyalty platforms
- Electronic wallets
Check out some great examples of RFID in Social Media
RFID and NFC
NFC or Near Field Communication is based on RFID technology and is more of a subset of RFID. NFC powers contactless transactions enabling the access of digital content and connection of digital devices. NFC works on a much shorter range, usually up to a few inches. NFC enabled devices have the ability to operate in reader and writer mode enabling peer-to-peer communication rather than just a passive tag and a powered reader.
With NFC chips set to become standard in more and more mobile devices and handsets the shorter range acts as a security measure making NFC desirable for sensitive applications like passports, ticketing and mobile payments. This also means that NFC tags are usually passive allowing them to be incorporated easily into other devices without taking a toll on battery life.
Google is currently trialling an electronic wallet branded as Google wallet in the US that lets customers pay for purchases under $100 using their mobile phone. Australia’s Commonwealth Bank is also trialling its own version called “Kaching” which uses a special mobile case containing the NFC chip which can be read by current PayPass terminals.
With the gap between online and offline becoming smaller and smaller and the advancement of technologies like RFID and NFC we can expect to see many more implementations as we head into 2012.