Many people are publishing stats and figures about mobile. Sometimes they ring true: the growth of smartphones, the increase in mobile search or the fact that most consumers want discounts from brands, are things that all make sense. There is enough anecdotal evidence around to support that. Some figures, though just don’t fit with what’s around. The latest one that doesn’t add up is some US research that suggests that 72% of people recall an advert with a QR code on it. I know a bit about the US market and although QR codes are becoming more used, 72% recall sounds very high.
The study also gave some glowing results on consumers wanting to use QR codes (87% would use one for a discount or voucher). The study was produced by US marketing communications agency called MGH. Whilst it’s important to gain an understanding of consumers and how they will use technology, it’s even more important to generate accurate results. What was the sample demographic used for this study?
My understanding is that most consumers don’t know what a QR code is, and those that have tried it found it doesn’t work very well. The former is backed up by study from youth communications firm, Dubit who found that 72% (co-incidentally) of teenagers didn’t know what a QR code was. Just 43% identified that it was something to do with a mobile phone and only 17% had actually used one. This was a weighted sample of 11-18 year olds (in other words, representative of that age group across the whole population). Teenagers are a pretty tech-savvy group if you ask me. If QR was becoming mainstream then I would expect that group to know about them.
Whilst QR codes clearly have potential, there seems to be a widespread problem in brands and advertising agencies, who believe that the presence of these square pixels is enough to interest consumers and get engagement. But QR has not caught the public imagination. If it had, the demand for them would be insatiable. It will take much more effort on the part of advertisers if they want to create successful QR engagement.
The current issue of the DMA Mobile Council Newsletter has an in-depth look at QR. Or see my previous blog; The Problem with QR Codes. (Oh, and if you are bothered enough to use QR codes, the one on the right takes you to a report on the US reserach)
Whilst Foursquare seems to lack a decent revenue model (not that they seem to worried about it), their success with brands has led them to great Pages Gallery, a place where users can follow brand activity. The problem currently is that whilst users can follow friends, following brands is more difficult. This new initiative makes it easier for brands to boost their followers and ultimately make the monetization of Foursquare easier.
Both the network operators and the card companies are spending millions promoting and rolling out NFC or contactless payments through mobile this year. Every major handset manufacturer will include contactless technology in their handsets very soon. Google CEO Eric Schmidt said that, “NFC should revolutionize electronic commerce as well as payments”. In the UK, next year’s impending Olympics has been a driver to speed up this roll out. It’s all very exciting. However, there is one big ‘if’ about all of this. It’s the elephant in the room. Consumer adoption.
According to Forrester Research this is a real problem. According to their blog most consumers don’t know or don’t care about NFC. So those with a vested interest in mobile will have to create the user demand. Not an easy task at the best of times, given that technology does not drive consumer demand, consumers do.
Related Blog: Operators and Handset manufacturers battle for the NFC space
An Orange Shots campaign for Snickers
Who are the media owners/media channels in mobile these days? Is it the operators or is it the app stores and social media owners such as Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare. Most agencies and brands would regard the latter as the place to buy their media. However the operators would like us to think different. Some mobile networks have made valiant attempts to create their own direct marketing channels, namely Orange Shots and O2 More. Both have a reasonable number of opt-in customers who receive marketing messages on behalf of companies. Whilst there are problems with the media planning and buying in these channels, they have a certain amount of brand appeal. Operator revenues are increasingly squeezed so these channels offer a potentially valuable source of income.
However, according to a YouGov report this week, it would seem that consumers are less than impressed with the idea. In short, over 80% of those surveyed said it was unacceptable for operators to include third party offers in their mobile marketing. Consumers will accept a limited amount of brand marketing on their mobiles: 38 per cent said they would want no more than one per month and 31 per cent saidless than that. 14 per cent were prepared to receive offers up to twice a month, but there was a significant difference between the ABC1 (8 per cent) and C2DE (20 per cent) demographics. The study found that whilst consumers are happy to accept a certain number of offers from their mobile phone companies, such as offers on new tarrifs or handsets, when it comes to third party marketing, they are risking alienating them and pushing them to other networks.
More on the YouGov report here.