Everything You Need to Know About NFC Smart Posters

What is an NFC smart poster?

NFC smart posters are items embedded or affixed with an NFC inlay which allow for easy communication and transfer of data. Whenever an individual places their NFC device near the smart poster, the NFC tag will transfer data and/or launch a task on the device. Typically, NFC smart posters are used in advertisements such as magazine advertisements, fliers, billboards, and other physical mediums.

NFC smart posters are favored over many other digital forms of communication because NFC technology is typically a native feature of the consumer's mobile device. Since it's a native feature, no special applications are needed to initiate the communication between NFC tags and devices; they simply require close proximity. On the other hand, QR codes require special applications to initiate any interactions.

Why should businesses use NFC smart posters?

The ability to easily transfer data is appealing to retailers, advertising agencies, transportation authorities, health care providers, and many other industries, especially those that interact with consumers. The seamless interaction offers new ways to distribute information, and its applications are only limited by the creativity of the provider.

Example of Lexus' NFC Smart Poster in Wired Magazine

Marketers will find NFC smart posters to be extremely beneficial. Since near field communication requires the user to take action, the opt-in nature of the technology creates an engaged user leading to a much more meaningful interaction with a brand. Also, NFC smart posters create new avenues in which to communicate and engage with consumers.

The ability to include dynamic call-to-actions in traditional media offers new ways to measure investment and engagement of traditional advertisements. If a patron of a local coffee shop sees a poster for an upcoming concert, a simple interaction between the phone and the smart poster will take the user to a website where she can purchase tickets or download a song. If the marketer notices the call-to-action is under performing, they may switch the offering to something more targeted based on user analytics. Since these interactions are taking place via the smart poster, marketers finally have a more precise way to measure the effectiveness of their traditional media impressions.

Why should consumers use NFC smart posters?

Depending on the poster and environment, the consumer may receive targeted information about their current location. A lost tourist would find a smart poster extremely helpful if the poster launched a map application with directions to a nearby landmark. In a retail setting, an NFC smart poster may offer coupons, information about a product, or loyalty points. The consumer's phone acts as the loyalty card and stores the information. The convenience of not having to keep track of multiple loyalty cards or worry about activating accounts is beneficial for the consumer.

NFC technology streamlines the user experience. Even though smart posters may simply take the user to a website, the user didn't have to take time and type out the URL. Typing isn't an arduous task by any means, but any convenience added, no matter how small, is a win for the overall user experience.

Photo courtesy of Aaron Cacali

How to make an NFC smart poster?

Required Components to make an NFC Smart Poster:

  • Object (paper, poster, window, etc.)
  • NFC tag encoded in the NDEF format
  • NFC Reader/Writer

Typically, NFC smart posters are prepared in two ways:

  • The NFC tag is embedded withing the object before printing.
  • The NFC tag is affixed to the object after printing.

Both have benefits and drawbacks, but it essentially comes down to your resources and printing capabilities. However, the strength, thickness, and durability of the object needs to be considered before the tagging process. If the paper is thin, the tag and adhesive may show through. Also, take into consideration the surrounding environment's impact on the NFC tag's performance. Liquids and metals have the biggest impact on radio frequencies. Additionally, the NFC tag will need to be durable enough to stand up to repeated physical interactions.

Smart Poster Best Practices

NFC N-Mark Logo

To ensure the success of your NFC smart poster, it's a good idea to follow these best practices:

  • N-Mark Logo - The NFC Forum, a consortium of NFC invested companies, has developed a recognizable logo to indicate it's an NFC smart poster.
  • Touchpoint Indicator - It's a good idea to show users where to place their NFC enabled devices on your poster.
  • Smart Poster RTD - NDEF Signature Record Type Definition verifies the integrity and authenticity of the tag's content.
  • Write-protection - Lock down your tag so the content can not be changed.
  • Interesting Design - Make your poster interesting so people want to interact with it!


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To read more about NFC applications, check out the links below!

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