Market Insight

Increasing Use of NFC in Digital Signage

October 08, 2014

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Earlier this year, Clear Channel Outdoor announced the successful rollout of their Connect platform, an interactive mobile advertising platform that enables seamless campaign integration between out-of-home (OOH) advertising and mobile devices across 29 markets in North America and Europe. Many advertisers in these regions, including McDonalds, Google, Levi’s, and Paramount, have launched over 100 mobile-supported campaigns using the Connect platform. With the help of leading mobile marketing solutions provider, Blue Bite, Connect tags are located on both digital and static panels in public venues such as street furniture, billboards, bus shelters, shopping malls, airports, and other point-of-sale structures that provide advertisers with a means to promote interactive campaigns to consumers in different locations. The appropriate content will be delivered via a consumer’s mobile phone who engages with the tag, delivering relevant information, coupons, transactional choices, or enable interaction with social media or other games.

This is just one of many examples of the successful use of near-field communication (NFC) which is a means of low-power, wireless communication between devices, such as smartphones, tablets or digital signs. While NFC is typically slower than Bluetooth or Wi-fi connections, there are other advantages to this technology – it consumes very little power, and provides for a greater possibility of increased security.

Widely used throughout parts of Europe and Asia, NFC has yet to gain significant traction in North America. The technology is anticipated to become more easily accessible with NFC-capable smart posters, digital signage displays, kiosks, and digital out-of-home networks in public spaces fitted with NFC touch points. It’s likely that QR codes will be replaced for marketing and promotion by NFC technology within the next 3 years.

Our Analysis

NFC-enabled mobile phones are quickly becoming more commonplace in the market and the boundaries between the digital and physical world are weakening. Retail applications and public venues allow customers to use their mobile devices to access NFC tags – allowing them to receive targeted marketing, coupons, and other relevant announcements directly. The customer’s preferences can be accessed from the smartphone to target the customer with a customized message on the digital signage screen.

NFC technology provides various advantages for consumers. Most importantly, out-of-home consumers using their mobile phones to access NFC tags do not need to worry about diminishing the battery life while being employed. Additionally, there is no need to download or install any specific applications and NFC does not collect personally identifiable information, making consumers feel more secure without the risk of privacy concerns. NFC technology also does not require the adjustment of mobile phone settings, making it easier to use than Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.

The advantages for marketers is the ability to micro-target specific locations and a particular audience, when engagement is more relevant and valuable. The saturation of NFC-enabled handsets increases, which gives space for creativity while developing new applications.

Possible use of NFC in combination with digital signage can occur when the consumer sees a product on a screen and is prompted to use their mobile phone to interact with the NFC tag, allowing them to obtain more information on particular reviews, store locations or other interactive content. It also transmits Web-based games and applications, promotions and coupons, social media integration, maps and more—directly to shoppers’ phones. The hot spot on the screen can offer a savings coupon which will aim to help increase sales by driving more foot traffic into a particular store. The Digital Signage Industry Market tracker for Q3 2014 further examines the usage of NFC in using digital signage for out-of-home advertising, including many instances of NFC-enabled applications already deployed in Europe and North America.

Tap-to-buy is certainly an opportunity for digital signage networks to get into the transaction business. The combination of digital signage with NFC technology through tap-to-buy has huge potential to boost ROI. There is also the added measurability that may come from live advertising in the same way that already exists with online advertising, correlating click through rates with other metrics. NFC gives screens greater flexibility since it allows the advertiser to change the tag or set of tags throughout a venue to match changing offers or information. The ability to provide more information, promotions and even transactions to people on-the-go greatly increases the value of the on-screen content.

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