While two major retailers have recently terminated their NFC-enabled mobile campaigns, NFC still remains an attractive marketing avenue for many digital marketers, promising a future where hyper-relevant and hyper-targeted communications can be pushed directly to a consumer’s mobile device. Much has been made about the rivalry between NFC and mobile barcodes (QR Codes, in particular). Will or won’t mobile barcodes be replaced by NFC?
To be sure, NFC and mobile barcode serve a similar function in that they enable a link between physical and digital content, which savvy marketers rightly believe will allow them greater and more personal access to their target audience. However, NFC faces several obstacles towards gaining mass-adoption worldwide on the same scale as QR codes:
- Cost to Integrate - Adding a barcode to current media is a relatively low lift, requiring perhaps additional design work, but with minimal impact on printing or other overhead costs. NFC, on the other hand, can be expensive to integrate into media given production costs, time, and effort it takes to embed an NFC chip on printed material;
- Device Reach - The list of NFC-enable mobile devices continues to grow, however that list is missing one major player. The iPhone. By comparison, nearly all phones released in the past 5 years are able to scan barcodes – both smartphones and feature phones;
- Consumer Privacy - The key difference between barcodes and NFC is privacy. Pull vs push. With a barcode scan, a consumer has opted in to engage with a particular mobile program. NFC, however, can push notifications to a consumer’s phone without that opt in, creating not only a nuisance for the consumer but also opening them up to security risks.
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