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Suitably-endowed punters lured into bonking for Vaseline loving

NFC frisking of street posters for fun and profit

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Vaseline is one of 13 brands taking part in a trial of contact-less advertising in Reading, inviting those with an NFC-equipped phone to bonk for more details.

The trial will run for four weeks, and involve posters on 300 bus stops and around 25 larger posters, all equipped with wireless NFC tags against which the passing public can tap a phone to get "special offers, vouchers, games and music" from the advertiser.

Those advertisers will include Morrisons, Mercedes, EA Games, Lynx and Magnum as well as the aforementioned Vaseline and half a dozen other well-known brands. The idea is to see if anyone will actually bonk against the posters to get more information, and if that can lead on to actual sales.

"Reading was chosen for the trial because it is one of the UK’s most tech-savvy towns, with a high proportion of smartphones in use" according to the canned quote from "Director of Insight" Nick Mawditt of ad biz Kinetic.

If punters can't bring themselves to hover a mobile over a poster, or don't have a suitable phone, they can always, er, scan a QR Code; a 2D barcode which has been heralded as both an NFC-killer and a dead-end technology suitable only for ridicule. QR Codes certainly haven't set the world on fire in the way that NFC is intended to.

French trials of contact-less advertising haven't exposed an unsatisfied desire to slap handsets against billboards, but there are a good deal more NFC handsets around these days which can only help.

The early trials also involved network operators, but they've now settled themselves into a landlord role. Those bonked vouchers will eventually need storing in a secure element, and in the UK that means taking advantage of Project Oscar for cross-network compatibility and paying the operator a rent for the space used.

Which in turn means network operators won't be asking for a cut of the NFC advertising revenue, which is good news as long as the industry can establish that there is revenue to be had. ®

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