It’s official. Apple’s new iphone 6 is BIG. So big that cargo pants may be making a comeback soon.
But while the new design is taller, thinner and more badass than ever, the most remarkable upgrade has nothing to do with appearance. At least, not where marketers are concerned.
We’re most excited about what’s inside the phone. The 6 is newly equipped with near field communication technology (NFC), which allows devices in close range to exchange information. This new functionality will power Apple Pay, potentially pushing virtual wallets into the mainstream. More importantly, NFC will create endless creative opportunities for marketers. Let’s take a closer look.
How does NFC work?
Remember QR codes? They’re those blurry grey patches of wasted space on out-of-home ads that, when scanned, deliver relevant content to your mobile device. NFC is similar, except it allows mobile phones to communicate with connected devices such as registers and digital boards, no scanning required. With NFC chips, mobile devices receive data when placed in close proximity.
For example, say I’m waiting in a bus shelter. To my left is an ad (equipped with quarter-sized NFC chip) for a nearby restaurant that tells me to “tap phone here.” When I do so, I’m led to a $5 off coupon and a phone number I can call to place my takeout order. Before the bus arrives, my ad, and dinner, are served.
Wait a minute…hasn’t this been around a while?
Good question. The answer is yes. Several manufacturers beat Apple to the punch on this one: Samsung, Blackberry, Amazon and Motorola, to name a few.
And consumers don’t need an iPhone 6 to make mobile payments. Boston-based LevelUp is a popular platform with more 1.5 million customers and 14,000 businesses. But even they seemed to celebrate the Apple news. CEO Seth Priebatsch said the “announcement will not just change consumer behavior around mobile payments, but also set a new tone for businesses. In a single day, mobile payments makes the jump from a nice-to-have to a must-have.”
Apparently, emerging tech trends must get Apple’s sign-off before appealing to the masses.
Why does NFC matter?
It’s a great investment for marketers. NFC technology enables countless opportunities to make ads more interactive, more relevant, and more engaging than ever. Also, it allows for marketers to directly track impressions. NFC-enabled ads tally each tap of the phone, and therefore each impression received. (Similar mobile ad technology, such as geo-fencing, does not produce equally reliable metrics.) Lastly, now that America’s iPhone-using army can interact with NFC-powered ads, investments in the platform are much more likely to pay off.
What does the future hold?
Where Apple leads, we shall follow. Don’t be surprised when NFC starts popping up everywhere. The phone-wallet is just the tip of the iceberg. Pretty soon, you’ll be waving that shiny new iPhone over everything: store windows, restaurant menus, signage, and maybe even home appliances.
Soon, brands will be able to communicate with unprecedented intimacy, relevance, and timeliness. So marketers, prepare to deliver product information, promotions, and highly targeted ads at every turn. And get excited for the day when NFC is so prevalent that we’re able to leave the house with nothing but a phone.
Goodbye, purses. Hello, cargo pants.