As new technologies emerge that seek to bridge the real world with the digital, the offline-to-online marketing learning curve only gets steeper.
For instance, what is the future of the QR code, and should we prepare to be wowed by augmented reality? Read on for my mobile marketing predictions of 2012.
1. Quick Response (QR) Codes
The Good: We’ll witness the disappearance of non-standard formats, an exponential rise in capable mobile devices, and a steady march toward improved calls-to-action spurred by more accountable analytics.
The Bad: Even though the arrival of native QR scanning in Android and/or iOS would be a boon for mainstream adoption, the move would elbow out increasingly popular third-party scanning apps and draw the ire of developers.
The Ugly: Overwhelmed by the variety of QR uses in marketing campaigns, bad “carpenters” keep blaming their tools, and repeat simple mistakes that disappoint many first-time consumer scanners.
Whether you love or hate QR codes, they’ll become progressively more ubiquitous and useful as they mature from hype to marketing line item.
2. Augmented Reality (AR)
The Good: Thanks to the exponential rise of capable mobile devices, a few AR campaigns will successfully break through to capture mainstream imaginations. And despite the highly proprietary nature of most AR, efforts like Aurasma‘s will continue striving to build scalable platforms.
The Bad: Similar to QR’s initial reception, the wider availability of easy AR creation tools will result in many more uninspired efforts, disappointing first-time users. The situation is further exacerbated by the broad definition of what “augmented reality” is and by uncertain consumer expectations.
The Ugly: The challenge of consistently retaining consumer attention beyond initial novelty (especially if a leading provider doesn’t emerge) threatens to relegate AR marketing to a modern flop.
In the absence of a dominant AR mobile marketing app, a plurality of contenders will fight to attain precious network effects, all the while searching for the “sticky” use cases and supporting performance metrics that result in repeat usage.
3. Near Field Communication (NFC)
The Good: Even though mobile wallets have held the spotlight, competition among providers hastens hardware penetration for mobile marketing opportunities, like the ability to swap SIM cards for NFC in lieu of upgrading one’s entire device. Early campaigns will appear in tandem with QR codes.
The Bad: Total NFC mobile penetration will remain below critical mass for mainstream deployments, constraining good campaigns to tightly focused areas, while exposing poorly conceived campaigns with less reach to critical scorn.
The Ugly: As competition escalates among mobile wallet hopefuls like Google Wallet, ISIS, and their respectively exclusive carriers, cross-compatibility of NFC standards across mobile devices will be threatened.
The competitive landscape of mobile payments in 2012 will play a large role in either accelerating or forestalling NFC’s mobile marketing future.
4. The Field (Everybody Else)
The Good: Offline-online tech will quietly thrive, especially that which offers simplicity with mass compatibility, like Zoove’s StarStar numbers. Also, startups like ShopKick, which diligently cultivates lucrative redemption and loyalty behavior into passionate user bases, will enjoy increased participation.
The Bad: Recognition apps will continue to fetishize the technology and ignore whether the end result is any good, with the exception of Google Goggles, which will seamlessly integrate into Android’s camera (effectively making visual search opt-out).
The Ugly: Some offline-online startups will be forced to transition from enthusiastic early adopters to monetizing mainstream demand. The true nature of “checking-in” will be called into question.
QR, AR and NFC are getting all kinds of buzz, but a healthy contingent of other contenders is also vying to close the loop. Given the wide spectrum of opportunities in offline-to-online engagement, it’s not inconceivable that multiple technologies can succeed across mutually exclusive consumer behaviors.
Image courtesy of Flickr, hedrinbc