NFC (near field communication) is basically an independent chip that works with smartphones and mobile devices. Without getting too technical, we can say it’s a wireless communication format, very similar to Bluetooth and WiFi. The difference is that NFC works at a maximum range of 4 inches (10 centimetres), so you need to tap or touch your phone in order for it to work.
How could this new technology help your business grow?
Well, imagine you’re a restaurant owner, using outdoor advertising with an NFC tag embedded. People could just touch their phones to the NFC tagged poster and voila – the entire menu would appear on their phone in just a second, along with mouth-watering pictures and descriptions of your speciality dishes. It could also include an offer or a discount or maybe even directions to your business.
How do NFC tags work?
These smart tags contain a limited storage memory, along with a radio chip connected to an antenna.
Although they might sound complex, NFC tags are small and cheap and can be embedded in basically any format. Since they’re so versatile, you can get them on anything from business cards to posters and labels.
The big advantage of NFC tags is that they are non-intrusive and need no power source. They use magnetic induction to draw power from the phone’s battery and they become active only when a user gets close enough. As a result, you don’t have to worry about people getting your ad popping up on their screen while simply passing by (if you would like that though, check out our article on geofencing).
NFC tags work similarly to QR codes and can store anything from pictures and videos to URL links and phone numbers.
Most of the newest mobile phone models are NFC compatible since it’s such a flexible and easy to use device in the day to day life. NFC can help you buy small items quickly via contactless payment. Paying for your meal has never been easier – all you need to do is to tap your phone and it’s done.
NFC or QR codes? Which one should you use for your ad?
This is a much discussed debate going on at the moment. One of the drawbacks of NFC tags is that mobile devices have to be compatible with NFC in order for the connection to take place. Unfortunately, many popular smartphones, such as the iPhone, do not support NFC (yet). On the other hand, QR codes already supported by most devices, since they only require a smartphone with a camera.
Most probably in the future both types of tags will be readily accessible to all smartphones. For now, if in doubt, use both NFC and QR codes, in order to ensure maximum possible engagement.