Tuesday, April 08, 2008

MobileDiscovery GetsFailing Grade For Case Western's Mobile Bar Code Trial


In parts of Asia and Europe, marketers have been using bar code technology to help sell things to people on their cellphones. There have been a few small-scale tests, but judging from the experience of one under way at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, the technique is nowhere near ready for widespread use.

Considering this was the first major trial for Physical World Connection, the marketing guys at MobileDiscovery dropped the ball big time. (Jonathan Bulkeley, CEO of ScanBuy, informed me that they had nothing to do with the marketing of this campaign)

In my opinion, advertisers are failing to grasp how big Physical World Connection (bar codes and mobile phones) is and how to implement it. Mobile bar codes can link a brand directly with a consumer immediately.

This Case Western campaign is lacking any creativity and focuses on the benefits for advertisers and carriers, not the consumers. A big mistake.


From the N.Y. Times Bar Code Sales Tool Failing

A company called Mobile Discovery, based in Reston, Va., is conducting the test at Case in conjunction with the university’s engineering school, whose students are helping to manage it. Students and other people affiliated with the university can download software to their cellphones and then can get campus bus arrival times, order magazine subscriptions, enter a sweepstakes sponsored by QVC and get text alerts from USA Today, among other applications. (they couldn't find a more hip publication than USA Today to participate? how many college kids read USA Today?)

They are also called free sweepstakes for a reason.

Interest in the pilot project, which started Feb. 1 and will run at least through May 15, has been tepid, according to students on campus, in part because of the cellphone fees associated with it. (It costs 2 cents or more to check when the next shuttle bus arrives, for instance.)

It's ridiculous to make consumers pay for this type of advertising.

Five phone carriers, including Sprint and AT&T, were cooperating in the trial — but not contributing money for it.

If you want to see mass adoption of this technology, carriers need to turn off the meter for a bit and see who and how consumers scan mobile bar codes. Think of this as an R/D expense for the next generation advertising model. The revenues will come but first you need to let early adopters (the targeted demographic) decide HOW and WHAT they want to use it for.

According to Ms. Dietz of the campus paper, the biggest downside of the Mobile Discovery trial is that the technology is not free.

QVC, the shopping network, introduced a campaign last month called Make It or Break It, inviting participants in the trial to create codes on mobilediscovery.com, then post them around campus for others to scan. Each scan gives the student an entry into a QVC sweepstakes, increasing the chance of winning a prize.

Jeffrey Charney, a QVC marketing director said, “Bar codes are the next killer app,”.

I think that is true, but in this case QVC is relying on the consumer to create the codes. A very bad idea. That will only work AFTER it gets traction.

So far, the most popular use of the technology at Case has been real-time arrival information for campus buses, called Greenies.

This is actually beneficial to the consumer. They get timely information when scanning a code. If you want to combine ads with the bus schedule that would work.

To get rapid adoption of the scanning application on the phone, you need to find a captive audience and include a contest. Did anyone think of a Case Western sporting event? In an arena, or stadium your have hundreds or thousands of people looking at the scoreboard during the game. A simple "send a text to XXXXX to get your EZCode" would work. Include a couple EZCodes in the program for people to scan to win a free Coke etc.

Did the marketing guys talk to any of the local retailers? Are there any campaigns that require a consumer to scan the same code to promote ease of use? Are there any time sensitive campaigns? Any viral ideas?

Students don’t perceive it as practical,” Ms. Vermeersch said. “Why would anyone actually pay for advertising?”.
They won't. The key point is to give the consumer something in return for permission to advertise on the phone.

The software being used in the Case pilot project, EZcode, was developed by Scanbuy, a mobile marketing company that is conducting a separate trial involving restaurants and other stores in its home city, San Francisco.

Did the marketing guys think of placing a notice in the daily school paper on how to download the EZCode software application?

Outside of a couple sweepstakes, what other goods/info were offered?

This was the first major trial of Physical World Connection in the US. The lack of creativity is very disappointing.

Next generation technology should have next generation marketing vision directing it.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Careful Scott After all it is SCANBUY you are talking about

Anonymous said...

Great post PP...and to think these (your criticisms & suggestions) have all been known factors to consider for at least the past 3 or 4 years. Amazing, eh!? --signed 'Disappointed'

Scott P. Shaffer said...

Disappointed doesn't even begin to describe it.

I hope carriers and advertisers don't guage how fast they need to implement PWC based on this trial.

Jerald C. Cavitt said...

Very Interesting hmmmmmmmmmm I wish them luck..But O boy what a disappointment.

Rami Nassour - UpCode USA said...

The world is still a virgin, and the cherry has to be popped, and gladly I know a company that's gonna pop it :-)

Rami Nassour - UpCode USA said...

The world is still a virgin, someone needs to pop it's cherry, gladly I know a company that's gonna do that :-)

Scott P. Shaffer said...

Interesting tease.

We will wait and see.

Anonymous said...

Downloaded java upcode app to my RZR...promptly says I can't use camera...then crashed my phone. Nice...seems the carriers are 'in charge' for now. :-(
Good luck rami.

Antony said...

The first successful use of codes is not about making advertising interactive.

The simple fact of the matter is Johnny or Jenny student is not interested in advertising, they see hundreds of advertising messages a day and a free ring tone from Coke or a Sweepstake from QVC is not going to drive this.

The first use of codes should be about making content interactive and providing consumers with a compelling, relevant and rewarding experience as shown by uptake of the bus trial.

The second factor here that I think people are missing is that the campaign was put together by students for students. I'm not criticising their abilities but unless you live and breathe the mobile space execution on any mobile campaign, be it codes or SMS, is going to be hit and miss.

I don’t think this trial should reflect on mobile code technology our own experiences and trials here in Australia shows that it works brilliantly if executed correctly.

Anonymous said...

The NY Times reporter seemed to be offended by the fact that the Mobile Discovery CEO showed an ad in his presentation that had a woman wearing jeans with a barcode on it. The ad was from France and the woman, facing away, was topless. This seemed to trigger some anti-code sentiments from women on the Case campus. Some felt that this was objectifying women and those views got covered in the campus newspaper.

Perhaps David Miller's including and defending this ad in his presentation might have been poor judgement, but if we tried to block technology that has been used to convey some sexual content we could eliminate much of the Internet, VHS and DVD technology. This reporter seemed hell bent of finding the problems rather than the opportunities.

Anonymous said...

this was a simple 2D barcode implementation, and scanbuy / mobile discovery could even get it right

CamClic Blog said...

A very good post Scott. I hope to be able to share some good examples of PWC in the near future. Keep up the good work!

/The CamClic Team

Scott P. Shaffer said...

Interesting that a topless woman ad could have such an impact.

I'm sure if TMZ.com implemented a bar code campaign and allowed viewers to scan a code for a picture of Lindsay Lohan topless, (or Brad Pitt shirtless) the results might have been much different.

Anonymous said...

Scott,anything you know about rumor that the new I-Phone will come with the neoreader from Neomedia????

Thanks

Scott P. Shaffer said...

Let me turn the question on you.

If you're a major brand like Apple, would you risk your coveted iPhone (and brand) with a company that is according to their latest financial statement, essentially bankrupt AND in the middle of a patent review?

According to the latest financial statement "We also have an accumulated deficit of $201.6 million and a working capital deficit of $85.5 million as of December 31, 2007.".

While I think PWC will be an huge application for the mobile space, in my opinion, I think Cornell/Yorkville has diluted this company to a point where no recovery is possible.

Here's what I would do if I was Cornell. Force NeoMedia to repay the debt they are owed. They just did this here
with another company. If NeoMedia can't repay the debt, Cornell closes the doors and then shops the technology.

brewskih said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Scott, your continued bashing of NeoMedia is tired and boring ..... just like your blog.

Yorkville is in it for the long haul and NeoMedia, under the new leadership of Chip Hoffman, is here to stay.

Like it or not!

Anonymous said...

As a student at case western where this trial is taking place, i don't think it is a failure. I agree with some comments made about students implementing this project for students. There are a few execution issues that I would have liked to see addressed in the next go (if there is one) but all things considered the trial has been pretty interesting to me. I've seen a handfuls of people scan daily, I have two or three friends making codes heavily marketing their codes for the QVC make it or break it contest and I know i've played around with Codes a few times myself with a number of my classmates.

The reporter of the NYtimes missed the mark and neglected to speak with the numerous students actually scanning and creating codes daily. The trial is not failing, THAT REPORTER FAILED. Alas, I'm disappointed there couldn't be a much more well rounded report on the codes at Case. It would have been nice to hear more sides to the experience on the case campus.... i guess the reporter didn't a chance to read the Case Forums!!!

While i don't think the trial has been a mind blowing, space and time altering success it has made a significant imprint on the campus. Now if only the MD folks and MEM students working with them could get the CIA (cleveland institute of art) students working as well.... then we'd something serious.

Goodnight, I'm off dreaming about fair and balanced journalism!

Case2Dcode
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LEUC-3ZmhCg

Code Spoof created by a CIA lad.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zblphxj9-Is

Happy blogging!

Anonymous said...

As a student at case western where this trial is taking place, i don't think it is a failure. I agree with some comments made about students implementing this project for students. There are a few execution issues that I would have liked to see addressed in the next go (if there is one) but all things considered the trial has been pretty interesting to me. I've seen a handfuls of people scan daily, I have two or three friends making codes heavily marketing their codes for the QVC make it or break it contest and I know i've played around with Codes a few times myself with a number of my classmates.

The reporter of the NYtimes missed the mark and neglected to speak with the numerous students actually scanning and creating codes daily. The trial is not failing, THAT REPORTER FAILED. Alas, I'm disappointed there couldn't be a much more well rounded report on the codes at Case. It would have been nice to hear more sides to the experience on the case campus.... i guess the reporter didn't a chance to read the Case Forums!!!

While i don't think the trial has been a mind blowing, space and time altering success it has made a significant imprint on the campus. Now if only the MD folks and MEM students working with them could get the CIA (cleveland institute of art) students working as well.... then we'd something serious.

Goodnight, I'm off dreaming about fair and balanced journalism!

Case2Dcode
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LEUC-3ZmhCg

Code Spoof created by a CIA lad.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zblphxj9-Is

Happy blogging!