Why Google Android 'Gingerbread' Supporting NFC Is Important To Advertisers


Advertisers and marketers may not have heard of near field communications (NFC) technology, but the newest version of the Android phone, codename Gingerbread, supports the chips. Google CEO Eric Schmidt talked about it Monday at the Web 2.0 Summit.

As a tech geek writing about NFC for years, I know how the technology will open the door to innovative campaigns on mobile devices that many advertisers and marketers night not thought possible.

NFC provides more than a tap-and-go technology allowing consumers to pay for items through mobile commerce like many media reports suggest. For technology geeks developing applications for Android devices, NFC is a short-range, high-frequency wireless communications technology enabling the exchange of data between two devices. The technology is an extension of radio frequency identification (RFID) that allows two devices to transmit information between them without contact.



For advertisers, the more exciting applications focus on sending coupons, promotions and advertisements for products and services to phones. In some cases, the marketing campaign centers on the person's location determined by the GPS transmitter in the smartphone, according to Mark Roberti, founder and editor of RFID Journal.

"Imagine a commuter gets off a bus and receives a discount coupon for a store across the street from the bus stop, and the consumer can redeem the coupon instantly at a store using the phone that delivered it," Roberti says. "Stores could develop kiosks and other interactive devices that communicate with smart phones via NFC."

I agree with Roberti when he says developers now have an option to create apps for managing loyalty card points, but instead of being just based on purchases, the marketing campaign might include other valuable activities such as tweeting on Twitter about a company's new product.

Gingerbread will push NFC into commercial use as developers design applications around the technology. But Google isn't the first to integrate NFC into smartphones. Earlier this year, companies began releasing open-source middleware for phones. Shortly after, Nokia EVP for Markets Anssi Vanjoki announced all new smartphones delivered by the company beginning in 2011 will come with NFC technology.

Companies making NFC chips such as the Philips Semiconductors' spinoff NXP Semiconductor waited years for commercial deployment. In the early days I tried a cashless payment app from NXP, where the mobile phone becomes the purchase mechanism to buy a bottle of water from a vending machine.

In 2008, NXP began seeing more NFC applications for mobile phones, commerce, and the starts of chips designed into cameras and other consumer devices. That year 230 San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) riders began a four month trial allowing consumers to use specially equipped mobile phones to pay for transit tickets and download information from smart ads. For the test, Jack in the Box loaded $20 in coupons on each phone giving consumers a chance to pay for food with the cashless systems. BART also loaded $48 worth of ride tickets.

Marketers and advertisers are the creative bunch. Think of the possibilities. Have anything in mind?

3 comments about "Why Google Android 'Gingerbread' Supporting NFC Is Important To Advertisers".
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  1. Charles Hwang from USC, November 16, 2010 at 5:10 p.m.

    Hi Laurie, I enjoy your posts and became a member solely to comment. I actually sent Mark Roberti an email regarding the same question/comment and wanted to see what you thought as well. Do you think Google/Android would create an open-API for the NFC technology? Whether it's transactions, ads, rewards, or the countless other functions of NFC, it makes business sense for a company that is resourceful as Google to create all the applications themselves and just launch it with every Android phone. What do you think?

  2. Laurie Sullivan from lauriesullivan, November 16, 2010 at 11:23 p.m.

    Yes, Charles, I do think Google will create an open API for NFC technology, though I do not have confirmation from Google on the move. Thanks for joining the MediaPost community.

  3. Monto Kumagai from XtremeSignPost, Inc., November 17, 2010 at 9:16 a.m.

    I am excited that Google’s Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) will feature NFC support. This will put pressure on other companies to follow suit. I predict that 2011 will be the year of the Near Field Communication (NFC) smartphone. I am involved in developing methods to improve the consumer experience by allowing them to personalize products using RFID technology. In this process memories in the form of videos, photos, and audio files are linked to commercial products. At a latter point in time, NFC enabled cell phones are used to instantly recall memorable events by simply touching the surface of the RFID-tagged items. The connection of the experience to the product can lead to an increase in the intrinsic value of the item. Since the data is on the cell phone it can be shared with friends and relatives. SMS (short message service), instant messaging, email, and social networks allow the personal news to be disseminated to the global community. I call this system “The Internet of Experiences.” It introduces a new paradigm in advertising that enhances viral marketing, brand name identification, consumer loyalty, and customer satisfaction. I am interested in the interaction between consumer experiences and “The Internet of Things.” When consumers interact with “The Internet of Things” they are able to fire off digital beacons announcing their experiences. Connecting this information via the Internet and social networks allows the data to spread globally. Digital documentation of encounters or experiences with RFID-tagged items provides reference points from which we can trace their paths. Each experience serves as an RFID beacon that can be tagged, archived, searched, and shared. Queries to the “Internet of Experiences” will result in the discovery of similar beacons, paths, and people.

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