O2 plans Near Field Communication launches in 2011

O2: readies Near Field Communication launches
O2: readies Near Field Communication launches

Mobile operator O2 will launch a series of products in the New Year based around Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, embedded into new smartphones.

According to Tim Sefton, business development director at O2 since a marketing shake-up earlier this month, new handsets scheduled for release in the New Year will be NFC-ready, and this new technology presents several new opportunities for marketers.

NFC is similar to Bluetooth, allowing mobile devices to communicate wirelessly with "talking posters" that send messages to mobile phones conveying brand messages.

O2 is currently developing its proximity marketing concept, where it sends offers to customers based on their location. Sefton says the scheme has been a success, but NFC will develop the concept.

Sefton said: "At the moment, it is small-scale, but offers are made to thousands of customers at a time to push certain brands.

"The model is rather like Groupon, where customers are seeking deals, and brands have spare capacity."

Response rates are reported as "good". A campaign with Fitness First recorded a 7% response rate, but some campaigns have been more difficult to measure. Sefton says NFC will make measurement more accurate and encourage brands to come to O2.

Few handsets have NFC at the moment – the new Google/Samsung Nexus S is one, and the Nokia C7 is another. More models expected in the New Year.

O2 won the IPA's best media award at its Effectiveness Awards in November, and launched its international favourites campaign, created by VCCP, last month.

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