This is Part 3 in a multi-part series this week on Mobile Scanning Technologies. I think these types of technologies are powerful in the “new” OOH because they bridge the offline (real-world) with the online (virtual world). And the “new” OOH, to me, is all about connecting others with the places and things around them AND each other.
In the previous two posts in this series, I discussed the value I see in code/image scanning technologies and showed a couple of examples of their effective use. Even though I see their value, I feel like we have a long way to go in mass adoption of these technologies. Saying that, today, I want to look a little bit deeper into the future I see for them.
Technological advancements and consumer behavior are the two nuts at the center of this future, and insofar as mobile goes, they are inextricably linked. Mobile use, in general, has skyrocketed this year, and we’re seeing more and more smartphones in the market. And with smartphones come apps. And with apps come the ability for deeper, unique experiences between brands and consumers and between consumers themselves. All does not hinge on smartphones and apps, but it’s important to know as these technologies grow and become a part of our everyday life, so does the comfort with using them to the fullest ability. The device and what it can do is powerful, and it’s only going to continue getting more powerful.
Now, enter consumer behavior – the problem with code/image scanning technologies right now is that they’re not affecting consumer behavior in the way I feel like they can. Consumers either a) don’t know what they are b) don’t know what they can do and/or c) don’t find the value in them to affect their behavior in a way that will affect mass change. Smartphones are a game changer. Code/image scanning technologies, at least “manual” scanning technologies, are not. Near-field communication (NFC), however, is. And this is really where I see the future of code/image scanning technologies.
If you’re not familiar, last month Google announced that they were going to include NFC capabilities (hardware/software) in their future phones. Nokia and Apple jumped in the ring, too. This, just like apps, is going to unleash a different level of power and comfort for the people who use them, which will soon be everyone. Now, I might be a couple of years off, but just this week, the NFC Forum developed a trademark that will show everyone where NFC can be enabled out in the public (below). So, it’s around the corner, albeit maybe a round corner.
One of the primary benefits of NFC, and NFC-enabled devices, is the ability to turn your mobile phone into a payment device. This ability completely changes the way consumers “transact” – how they shop and pay for things. It has the ability to drastically affect consumer behavior. Just the same way that debit cards did years ago. This is the new debit card. Now, imagine that debit card being able to unlock customized brand content in the same way code/image scanning technologies do today. You’ve got it with NFC.
It’s based on the same principle as what we see today – a device scans something, recognizes it, and then serves up content. The only difference with NFC is there is no “manual scan,” only a “manual bump.” With a simple gesture, consumers get the same, potentially-rich experience they get today through opening an app and taking a picture. In my opinion, this makes the experience better, primarily because it’s easier. But once brands and consumers get comfortable with the technology, and as it evolves, the potential for deep, personalized, connected, and importantly, comfortable, experiences is high. And all of that equates to value.
Imagine the experience consumers could get through a place-based screen, delivering place-based content, but only personalized even more via NFC. Talk about mobile being a powerful connector to digital signage. Throughout the year, I’ve heard some in the industry talk about how mobile can feed the digital signage screen (ie – Tweet streams on digital signage) so that the signage is an extension of the mobile experience. NFC changes that paradigm – the digital signage actually feeds the mobile screen so that the mobile is an extension of the digital signage experience.
Again, I recognize that this is probably not the near-term future of code/image scanning technologies, but things move fast in the technology world. A disruptive technology like this will have a great impact on consumer behavior, so I believe it is the future for sure. I talk about the “new” OOH where technology enables the places and things around us to be turned “on,” where everything is a screen, and where people are a critical component of the “network.” Things are moving in this direction now and it’s exciting to be a part of it. I would encourage everyone to embrace the technologies that we have now and push them as far as they can be pushed, to keep experimenting, and most of all, to share, share, share. This is a brave new technological world and it keeps getting more and more interesting as the days go by.
What do YOU think? Agree or disagree?