NFC (Near Field Communication) is a new technology being added to mobile phones that allows an NFC sensor chip to be recognized by simply tapping it with an NFC-enabled phone or holding the phone in close proximity to it, to automatically make a payment, download a coupon, or open a website, video, or other digital content. Though not yet in widespread use because of the limited number of mobile devices designed with NFC sensors and the relative complexity and expense of producing materials with embedded chips, NFC is a growing technology platform that can be used to address a variety of scenarios. This page addresses only scenarios that are similar to current Tag implementations, in which a user can “tap” (rather than “scan”) a physical item to bring up its companion digital experience.
Supported Platforms and Devices
Currently Tag supports NFC on Android phones running 2.3.3 and higher and with the NFC hardware. Please check with your phone manufacturer if your phone includes NFC hardware. Since the mobile market is evolving, it is difficult to list all phones that support NFC. The most popular phones we know of in North America are:
- Nexus S
- HTC Amaze 4G
- Samsung Galaxy S II
Helpful Information About NFC
NFC touchpoints have a cost to implement. Although it’s free to create NFC URLs in Tag Manager, you will need to work with a third-party vendor to embed those URLs in an NFC sensor to create your NFC touchpoint. The sensors are added to your materials, such as a poster. Expected cost for these sensors is several cents each. To make the most of your investment, we recommend that you use them on more permanent materials; to keep the content behind the touchpoint fresh, you can modify the NFC URL in Tag Manager at any time. This lets you keep your campaign up to date without having to reconfigure any sensors
NFC touchpoints do not work from a distance. Tag 2D barcodes can be scanned from a distance, depending on the size of the printed code. NFC touchpoints require that the mobile device be held within approximately 5 cm or less in order to launch the experience. When choosing which materials to enable with NFC, be sure that they are ones that can be physically accessed by your customers.
Creating NFC URLs
When creating an item in the Tag Manager, the creator has the option of outputting an NFC URL rather than a Tag barcode.
As with Tag 2D barcodes, the content stored in an NFC URL is dynamic. Creators of NFC URLs can instantly change the content that a user sees when they tap the touchpoint. They can create the offline URL once and change the online experience as often as they like in Tag Manager.
Over the short run, there will be many “hybrid” uses of NFC touchpoints and 2D barcodes: users with older phones will scan the barcode, while users with newer phones will tap the NFC touchpoint, and both will be taken to the same experience. Since most NFC-enabled devices are on the Android platform, we recommend that you pair your NFC touchpoints with our 2D barcodes to ensure that your full audience can engage with your content.
Usage Scenarios for NFC Touchpoints
The Tag solution supports a range of other types of experiences, including implementation of NFC touchpoints on posters and other printed material, in point-of-sale displays, for downloading coupons, and placement on packaging and other three-dimensional objects. Users simply tap the NFC-enabled materials with their phone to open a webpage, dial a phone number, see a text message, open a vCard, or download a mobile app.
The NFC Forum’s “N-Mark”
indicates that NFC
functionality is available.
When a user with an NFC-enabled device taps a touchpoint, the Tag app will launch automatically; the app does not need to be opened first. If the NFC URL was generated using Tag Manager, the web page title will display. The webpage will be added to the user’s history and the experience will be displayed within the Tag app, from which it can be shared.
For users with an NFC-enabled phone, common scenarios include:
1. A user taps a poster displaying the standard NFC logo on a poster, activating the experience associated with the NFC touchpoint.
2. The user employs the Tag app to scan a poster with an enhanced NFC logo to activate the experience.
3. A user can also use a standard NFC application to scan the NFC touchpoint. In this case, the user will be taken to a downgraded experience in comparison to scanning the same NFC touchpoint with the Tag app.
A user without an NFC-enabled phone can access the same experience by scanning a Tag barcode printed on the poster in a hybrid implementation.
Creators of the NFC URL can use Tag Manager to see engagement with an NFC touchpoint, including Real Time Location and unique Device ID data, as well as details on each tap by date and category.
For a richer set of data, creators can also use the Scan Data API to provide more metrics on NFC engagement, including how many people are sharing the mobile experience within Tag app, the exact time of each tap, and more.