Public transport is a great way to assess the Zeitgeist. Watching commuters transition from iPhones to Samsungs, and from paper books to Kindles, really gives one a sense of how the world is changing. Advertising is also a great way to measure society; seeing lots of adverts for dodgy loan companies can give you an interesting idea about the direction of the economy.
I've been tracking the rise of QR codes in advertising for several years now. People keep asking me when NFC will take over for "boring" QR codes - based on the few live NFC examples I've seen in the UK, NFC will be trailing QR for several more years.
Let me talk you through TAP4offers' latest "effort".
The poster is fairly clear about what to expect - although I initially thought that I'd have to stretch to the top of the carriage to scan the NFC tag!
Thankfully, that's not the case. Beside every exit were these combined NFC / QR / SMS stickers.
The NFC tag and QR code each had a unique tracking URL, so the owner of the service (Gunars Vucens) can see which method is being used the most. Judging from the URL and the printed information, I would guess each train carriage has a unique code.
Once the code is scanned - this happens.
What - as the kids say - The Fuck? I've no idea how much it costs to do a deal with South West Trains - but someone has wasted their money!
Why bother with this? Seriously? What's the point of installing all these codes? They've been there for months - disappointing everyone who interacts with them.
— Colum Duffy (@myconnectedlife) March 4, 2013
Despite the advertiser's promise of a relaunch, nothing seems to be happening with these codes.
— Gunars (@gunnars_v) May 3, 2013
As well as the general uselessness of the destination, there is another flaw with the service.
So, overall, a pretty pathetic effort.
If NFC is to overcome its significant obstacles - price, hardware requirements, lack of public awareness - the campaigns underpinning it must be better than this.