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Why does every marketing department want me to scan their adverts?

Posted by: Thomas Harrison-Lord on 30 June 2017

Too often in B2B marketing, the industry looks up to the world of B2C marketing for divine inspiration. Whatever may be the latest marketing trend in the world of consumerism must be the next big B2B trend too, only a short while after B2C have perfected the art.

We’ve also written a few times – quite a few actually – how business to business communications can sometimes by a little too staid and needs to take notes from the consumer market.

But the current trend of trying to scan things with your phone, please, let us of the B2B persuasion not stoop to this low level.

Many of us in marketing still have the bad taste the QR code left in our mouths, like the lingering remains of a McDonald’s gherkin. An interesting idea brought down by two main reasons. There was rarely a good enough incentive to interact with an advert, and secondly, you were required to download a particular app to scan the code. The end user needed to download an app, take a picture and the reward was to see an advert. No thank you.

NFC KFC

While waiting at a bus stop the other day, I see that an NFC point had been installed next to the giant poster advert. I could “Tap to interact”. I understand the idea. Many phones have NFC these days. I use it on a regular basis to transfer pictures from my camera to my phone to then post to social media. I use to it quickly pair to a Bluetooth speaker and to pay for my tube travel using my phone. All great.

I also see the marketing thinking behind this. It makes the advert more measurable. Always a challenge, showing an advert’s worth is particularly hard on print media such as billboards, buses and bus stops. You can look at traffic flow data or conduct a survey, but ultimately digital media is deemed much more accountable. By creating a digital contact with the advert means anyone who taps the advert will be logged and numerical data is created.

But seriously. Why would I want to tap an advert?

When in Italy last year, I could use NFC to tap a plaque on a wall, and it gave me historical information and videos about the iconic town of Siena. A UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to the Piazza del Campo, Torre del Mangia and Santa Maria in Provenzano Church, I implore you to find the time to visit and while you are there, tap your phone against the walls to get more information. In this scenario, NFC is useful. But when it comes to tapping a KFC advert, I fail to see a benefit to the end user.

Italy NFC

I am willing to bet my lunch for today that most people don’t know what NFC is. Apple – in their infinite wisdom – has NFC fitted to every iPhone, but limit the use purely to only Apple Pay.

Then we come to my recent laptop case order using Amazon’s Prime Now same-day-delivery service. The bag had a Snapchat code (a ‘Snapcode’) printed on it, promoting the upcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming film.

If I were to scan my Amazon order packaging, I received a Snapchat filter which I could use. But only for one hour. Never forget that, in consumer land, exclusivity and scarcity are the current money makers. Nike trainers only available for a particular time, Jaguar cars only built in limited quantities. All handy margin boosters, but they also ingrain a sense of need and want now.

The filter itself was nothing special, just overlaying a small image of Spider-Man onto any picture I took and including the Spider-Man: Homecoming branding. If scanning the Snapcode meant I could make my face look like Spider-man, using Snapchat’s pioneering AR technology then that would have been a neat incentive. But a simple promotional filter is not enough of a hook.

Being able to scan or tap items sounds like a great idea from inside the marketing team. But that seems to be a very insular campaign structure at present. Unless the end phone users see a substantial benefit to going through the trouble of interacting with an advert, the numbers will not warrant the investment. This is one B2C marketing technique that has no home in the B2B world, for now at least.

Categories: Marketing
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