Could RFID Become The Mobile Browser Cookie?
Similar to the way technology companies developed a tracking system online through ad tags and browser cookies, transmitting information from one Web page to another. It will let advertisers personalize and target ads to consumers based on preferences. When I heard those words it felt as if a lightning bolt struck me in the chest because I have been reporting on and following the progression of RFID and NFC technology since 2000.
Technology for far too long has been used as a tool to sneak through the back door. Donaldson equates it to riffling through trashcans to figure out what he's buying and then walking around to knock on my front door to say, "Hey, do you want to buy that?"
If Donaldson walked into a store and picked up a pink dress, the salesperson would walk up to him and start asking questions. Perhaps the salesperson would start by asking "Can I help you?" and then move on to "Are you looking for a gift?" The more information he gives away the more the salesperson can assist Donaldson make a final decision on the product to purchase. Rather than view behavioral targeting as evil, most technologist see the online technology as a helpful tool to find the perfect choice by striking up a personal conversation between the brand and consumer.
Donaldson is half correct when referring to the technology. Ultra high frequency (UHF) RFID chips, which provide the longest RF wave range between the reader and chip, can transmit long distances, but the chip would only hold enough information to identify the person wearing it. The remainder of the information would be stored in a database. The chip would need to communicate with the database to access the information about the consumer, but it could trigger an ad in a retail store window based on the consumer's preferences stored in that database.
A chip integrated into the phone could authenticate the connection through a unique identifier. It would act like a cookie if it linked to a database of information. Consumers can go to a physical location and take the experience home if advertisers and marketers tie in social media and RFID, according to Patrick Sweeney, ODIN CEO and author of "RFID for Dummies." "From a mobile marketing perspective, it's a lot less expensive for retailers to use RFID rather than another location-based service because once you get inside a mall or office building the ability to triangulate using GSM or CDMA signals is tough," he says.