Also, due to NFC's limited transmission field, consumers must not only notice the printed ad and decide to make the connection, they must get close enough to the NFC tag to initiate the message. As the novelty of NFC tags wane, it's an open question whether or not consumers will be willing to read and respond to advertising messages that require that level of effort on their part.
Advantage: Bluetooth and Wi-Fi?
In contrast, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi-based proximity marketing campaigns use a technology that is already standard on nearly all handsets to deliver an opt-in message directly to the device that consumers already use for most of their communications on the go. Consumers aren't required to initiate the transmission: A well-designed Bluetooth/Wi-Fi campaign sends a message to all consumers who come within range, which can be as far away as 300 feet. Consumers who opt to receive the marketing message can do so by simply touching their device screen.
Since Bluetooth is a ubiquitous wireless data sharing tool that comes pre-installed on practically all smartphones and consumers are now used to using Wi-Fi in public places, both technologies are familiar, and tech-savvy consumers generally understand that they can safely receive messages via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi without unwittingly transmitting private data. This familiarity gives Bluetooth and Wi-Fi a distinct advantage over competing technologies when it comes to proximity marketing.
But asking whether or not NFC will overtake Bluetooth and Wi-Fi may be asking the wrong question: Who says there can't be multiple methods of conveying proximity marketing messages to consumers?
Enterprises currently use a variety of methods to get their message out, including print, radio and online ads. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are particularly effective in the proximity marketing space because they initiate communication via a tool -- the smartphone -- to which consumers reliably and voluntarily devote their attention. But there's no reason enterprises can't take an "all of the above" approach. The key is to examine potential ROI and make an informed decision.
Alex Romanov is CEO of iSIGN Media, a leading North American multiplatform advertising solutions company that utilizes Bluetooth, Mobile, Wi-Fi and Location-Aware technologies to deliver rich media, permission-based messages to engage consumers more deeply and cost-effectively. Find out more at http://isignmedia.com/.
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