NFC is a wireless technology that enables mobile devices to be placed against an NFC terminal in order to access information. It works in a very similar way to ‘contactless’ payments on credit and debit cards: one tap of the card onto the terminal and the payment is complete. 

This also works in the same way for marketers wanting to promote their content using NFC technology. If a customer holds their phone next to a bus stop advert for example, and both their device and the poster is NFC-enabled, the relevant content will then appear on their mobile device instantly. 

It is estimated that there will be over 500m NFC-enabled devices in use by March 2014, but with no clear evidence of results from NFC marketing campaigns, is this type of technology something marketers should be including in their campaigns, or should we be waiting to see what happens in the space?

Brands using NFC for marketing

South West Trains

South West Trains Tap4Offers

South West Trains has introduced a new advertising service, Tap4Offers, to over 300 of its carriages, with plans to extend this service to over 4,000 carriages after the trial period.

The Tap4Offers touchpoints uses both NFC tags and QR codes to offer users deals and vouchers tailored to their behaviours on rail passengers.

According to KBH On-Train Media, who introduced the Tap4Offers service, 33% of those using the touch points have interacted with the service using the NFC tags. 


Guinness NFC

Last month, Guinness fitted over 11,000 founts across the UK with NFC technology. This allows people to tap their mobile device against the Guinness harp logo on the fount in order to see if they have been lucky enough to win a complimentary pint!

This not only increases customer engagement for the brand but also allows Guinness to send relevant content to their customers’ mobile devices. 


Dominos NFC

Over the summer, Domino’s tagged some of its outdoor adverts with NFC technology, to help boost sales over their quietest period.

Users are able to scan the ads to download the Domino’s app, rather than having to download it from the relevant app stores. Domino’s wanted to make sure that consumers were able to order pizza while they were out and about over summer so encouraged app downloads through the use of NFC. 

Should brands adopt NFC?

On the one hand, the brands who are embracing NFC are differentiating themselves from competitors by staying ahead of the curve.

NFC as a marketing tool is allowing brands to connect with their customers instantly, and with the integration of analytics, marketers have the ability to collect consumer insights and behaviour for the improvement of future campaigns. 

On the other hand, the brands running these campaigns are still the early adopters. Although NFC is a topic that is continually being talked about, and we have seen examples of large brands running NFC marketing campaigns in the UK, there is very limited visibility of the ROI of such campaigns and therefore it is difficult to see how they have performed and whether the technology is worth investing in. 

The number of NFC marketing campaigns is most certainly on the rise, as is the number of NFC-enabled handsets entering the market, especially devices running Android.

But until the iPhone is NFC-enabled, we think that brands will be slow to adopt the technology. It seems that a lot of brands utilising NFC are also using other methods of engagement like QR codes or short URLs, to ensure larger audiences are being reached.

We’re interested to see how NFC progresses and whether it becomes mainstream or not but until there are transparent results from marketing campaigns, we think that NFC as a marketing tool will continue to be used only by a small number of UK brands.