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.