Breaking News on Mobile Innovations

Dave LawsonYesterday saw the introduction of a couple of potential game changers in the mobile world. One represents a maturation of the mobile connection technologies; the other is a seismic shift in your brand’s ability to get the right ad to the right people at the right time and (now) in the right place.
Add into that the fact that both of these advancements were made by technology big dogs: Facebook and Microsoft, and we’ve got an “oh really?!” kind of day.
Let’s start with Microsoft. They have been playing in the 2D Barcode space for about 18 months with their proprietary entry MS Tag. Their code could only be generated on their and could only be read by their reader app.

This created fragmentation on one side and a calming uniformity on the other. As we described in our QR vs. MS Tag blog post, requiring a tag-specific reader reduces the number of people that could readily scan.

An important subtlety to their branding is that they often include “platform” to follow that “MS Tag” connector product descriptor. They have truly taken the first step of what I anticipate will include numerous other connectors by adding support for QR code scans and NFC activations. I can see a future that includes audio keys, motion and geographic triggers, image recognition, watermarking, augmented reality, and more. Providing an integrated connector and resultant behavioral activity capture dashboard with all the analytics to quantify the interactions and delivering sexy audience/consumer data for success assessment and will enable better marketing decisions. All this points to where mobile behaviors currently are and where they will inevitably continue to evolve into- your customers and prospects expecting to connect with you as conveniently as possible from any place, at any time, on any device when they need you.

In one fell swoop, Microsoft’s Tag team has solved the biggest complaint/counter argument that most QR enthusiasts have had: “But it doesn’t scan QR codes.” So now what?

It’s a compelling advancement and exciting for consumers to be able to have one app that reads or can use multiple connectors to drive to mobile experiences. Just pick the right one for the right purpose and *poof* you have an appropriate connector. There are still some questions that remain for marketers. These include:

  1. Will QR code generation and NFC activations will be accessed via the tag.microsoft.com domain with the same no-cost analytics that are currently available? (Knotice wasn’t able to access these features yesterday.)
  2. Will the Tag reader app be able to scan or use multiple activators, or will it be similar to the Nellymoser Universal Action Code Reader SDK that can really only be built into a proprietary branded app? (Knotice wasn’t able to scan QR codes with the MS Tag app yesterday.)
  3. Will this finally allow marketers to focus on providing the right helper text with their codes prior to scan and the best experiences post-scan? (If not, please call Knotice).

As exciting as this is, there remains the news that Facebook is now getting ready to begin serving and selling ad space within their mobile universe. People accessing Facebook via mobile devices like tablets and phones could instantly become display ad “fish in a barrel.” Mobile access to the global über-social network accounts for about one-third of the total activity there and presents some amazing “in the moment” activity opportunities for the essence of right message, right place, right time.

Its simplicity, 800 million members, and the mobile traffic they generate combine to make Facebook an instant Top 4 player in the mobile ad network space. Exciting for them because they own all their inventory and should have better data to make the most of mobile-only or integrated buys.

Both of these developments are exciting as major players and technologies in the mobile space are making what was conjecture for so long a reality. Mobility as a marketing channel didn’t necessarily need more momentum as evidenced by the past 18 months of activity in the space. However, most brands are still in the formative stages of their programs. We have a consolidation of a sometimes confounding space with Microsoft’s announcement and the launch of a media option no marketer (mobile or otherwise) should ignore.

What do you think of these recent developments or others in the digital marketing space?

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