NFC has potential to erode mobile search, says Tapit chief

NFC advertising could eventually “erode” mobile search advertising, according to mobile ad firm Tapit’s CEO Jamie Conyngham, as the hype surrounding the opportunities for NFC continue to mount. The technology, which allows consumers to access videos, coupons and product information by tapping an NFC-enabled device to posters or bill boards, will bring about “a tidal wave of change” in the mobile sector, he says in an interview with StrategyEye. NFC campaigns will open up new ways for marketers to engage with consumers and it is big brands, rather than payment firms and mobile operators, which will lead wary consumers to adopt the technology over the next four years using the bait of offers and interactive content, according to Conyngham.

Although he acknowledges that this is still “blue sky” thinking, the combination of NFC and content delivery has the capacity to cut out mobile search altogether, claims Conyngham. Consumers are increasingly able to tap outdoor media, such as posters, using NFC-enabled devices to access information about an advertised product or company and take advantage of offers without having to manually input data into a search engine.

“Before all [brands] could do was show a static image but now what they’re able to do is actually engage with the consumer and get something to their phone…so the conversation with the customer and the brand gets extended,” says Conyngham.

NFC has become synonymous with mobile payments, with lofty predictions that the technology will power USD50bn worth of payments by 2014. Yet despite this consumers remain wary. Global brands such as McDonalds or Coca Cola have the commercial leverage to bring NFC-based advertising to both consumers and smaller brands, he claims. “They have a huge audience that listens to what they’ve got to say. If one of those brands gets behind [NFC] others start to copy and it becomes influential to the public – it educates them, it creates awareness and creates a knock-on effect.”

While NFC is certainly gaining traction, Conygnham’s vision is unlikely to become mainstream in the immediate future, as the mobile advertising industry is still a nascent one and likely to be driven by search advertising and maps for the foreseeable future. Gartner pegs mobile ad spend at USD20.6bn by 2015, with the majority of that spend on search, maps and display advertising.

Nevertheless, Tapit is hoping to spur the NFC-based ad space, recently joining forces with two other marketing firms to create the NFC World Alliance in a bid to ramp up awareness among both brands and consumers. The Alliance is hoping to become a one-stop shop for NFC marketing, providing brands looking to expand their international ad footprint with access to media buyers around the world, acknowledging that companies need to be won over as much as consumers.

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