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O2 promises to tap-up customers in 2011

Location-based marketing, not ticketing

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O2's location-based advertising arm, O2 More, has been successfully hooking in the punters, and the operator expects NFC to increasingly contribute to that revenue next year.

O2's business development director, Tim Sefton, told Marketing Magazine that the location-based advertising appended to O2 More in October has been going great guns, and that the operator expects Near Field Communications to enable more-innovative mobile advertising next year.

O2 More is an opt-in service that pushes SMS and MMS messages to signed-up customers, and started targeting the messages based on the customers' location in October. Apparently a recent campaign for Fitness First got a 7 per vent response rate, which is phenomenal by the standards of traditional advertising, though less impressive when compared to Blyk's (claimed) 25 per cent response rate for similarly-delivered messages.

Tim Sefton reckons that's "good", if not great, and that NFC will boost responses by allowing phones to pick up data by tapping against a poster or similar. Not to mention that by attaching itself to NFC technology, O2 can attract brands interested in being at the cutting edge.

NFC can do a lot more than read URLs from tags, but that's the easiest functionality to realise and the only one possible with today's NFC handsets (Nokia's C7 has no public API for NFC, while Google's Nexus S has an API for reading tags, but not for the secure element which will be needed for ticketing or payment applications).

O2 was heavily involved in trials of NFC ticketing in London, trials that revealed today's NFC hardware is too slow for the London Underground with transactions taking as much as a second. Once the hardware is in handsets, users might usefully be introduced to the concept of proximity communications though advertising, and thus be happier to use the technology for payments when the infrastructure catches up with the potential. ®

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