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Near Field Communications

Jul 24, 2013 5:42 PM, By Vern Freedlander

How NFC will reshape the world of digital signage.


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Near Field Communication (NFC) is revolutionizing the way brands and content interact with users. Using NFC-enabled devices, users can seamlessly transfer content between digital signage displays and their mobile devices within public spaces, retail settings, and corporate environments. As a result, digital signs are being transformed into dynamic content repositories—leading to a new era of convenience for stakeholders at both ends of deployments. By traveling with the user, NFC-enabled media can further augment content absorption, facilitate information sharing, and enable the development of more creative campaigns by marketing and advertising professionals.

Imagine a person walking past a digital signage kiosk promoting the upcoming release of a blockbuster film. By placing their handheld device inches from the digital screen, the user instantly obtains the film’s trailer, viewing schedule, or any other preprogrammed content. In turn, marketers are able to combine content with promotions related to merchandising, pricing, or comparable media promotions. Another example of everyday NFC applications is within public transportation settings. By tapping their smartphones to a digital signage screen, subway passengers can download samples of e-books or media-rich news offerings for immediate consumption while they commute. NFC digital signage technology can also be applied to ticketing, scheduling, and concession stands within transportation terminals. In contrast to today’s ubiquitous QR codes, NFC provides a more expedient consumption experience since users no longer require specialized applications for reading barcode matrices. Instead, users simply tap or wave their device before the screen, eliminating the need to hold, photograph, and enter additional information to unlock multimedia content. The procedure is fast, simple, and effortless. Furthermore, by having the ability to take media with them, user interaction with brands and content can create viral effects via the ability to easily share material on social media websites.

Within retail spaces, digital signage is designed to improve the customer experience by providing timely, accurate, and targeted product information. NFC enables the customer to rapidly capture information and continue the shopping experience rather than remaining stationary before a sign. Furthermore, the technology opens up new opportunities for product promotions and enables customers to quickly access coupons based on their interest or particular location within the store. Other metrics for marketers include NFC scanning history, CRM background, and timely giveaways related to in-store advertisements. The NFC experience can also influence customers’ decision-making processes by incentivizing users to purchase products paired together through creative, handheld multimedia campaigns.

In corporate environments, NFC integrated with digital signage applications can lead to more effective and efficient training programs, better organizational communication, and aid in the promotion of a learning-based culture within firms. For instance, to promote continuous learning, firms can post white papers, industry reports, and internally drafted materials for users to download directly to their devices. When positioned strategically within the organization, these digital signage kiosks can become important content repositories for all stakeholders including employees, visitors, and external support staff. Training sessions become more effective via an augmented bring-your-own device (BYOD) experience for participants. Other practical NFC applications include the hospitality industry where guests can obtain customized wayfinding instructions and promotional content directly on their mobile phones and the banking sector where potential customers can easily scan digital signage kiosks to obtain information on the latest mortgage rates as well as other financial promotions.

In sum, near field communication will revolutionize the world of digital signage interaction, content consumption, viewer participation, and information sharing by simplifying users’ access to dynamic and personalized content. It will be contingent on both integrators and communications professionals to work with software platforms that have the ability to manage a diverse variety of content types and make that content available on any screen. For content owners and marketers, NFC will create new opportunities for data mining and working with viewer metrics, leading to new insights on how users interact with and experience brands.

Vern Freedlander is vice president of production services for Montréal-based X2O Media, a full-service provider of technology, network management, and content services for professional digital signage applications. With more than 20 years of broadcast television experience as a producer, director, and executive, Freedlander oversees all of X2O Media’s content initiatives. He can be reached at vern@x2omedia.com.



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