Alex Steer

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Predicting the new annoying for 2011

330 words | ~2 min

Remember a little over a year ago, when the mutterings about location-based technology were starting to move into the mainstream? Well, it's happening again, this time with near-field communications.

Looks like NFC is all set to become this year's Thing That Marketers Talk About And Try To Do Until It Gets Annoying.

Print this list off, put it in a drawer, and take it out at the start of 2012.

Did you do that? Good. Now, how many of the following have you seen since the start of 2011?

  1. Shops that broadcast deals to your phone as you walk past
  2. Cereal boxes that launch a URL when you wave your smartphone near them
  3. Blog posts telling you that NFC is a great way to tell 'engaging brand stories' to consumers
  4. Secret parties/gigs run by sports or music brands where you need an NFC enabled phone and a special download to get through the door
  5. NFC-powered group buying/price manipulation gimmicks - turn up, swipe, drive down the price

Right, back to the present.

People in advertising and marketing: please, get a grip before this gets crazy. It's just a swipy phone thing.

If you start off by thinking 'Hmm, how can I use this new technology to push advertising messages?', you will basically be doing it wrong for several reasons.

Take the fact that this new thing exists. Put it in a pocket in the back of your brain. If ever you find yourself with a problem that it could help solve, take it out and dust it down. Make sure it's strategically useful and creatively interesting. If by the time you bring it out it feels like it's been done to death (which, if you're doing this any time after about April 2011, it will), well, think of something else.

For now, though, I'm going to spend the next few weeks waving my phone at walls until something happens.

# Alex Steer (05/01/2011)