Why eMarketers should strive to be average

Now I’m a pretty laid back guy, but Forrester’s latest report, ‘NFC: What lies beyond contactless payments’, which discloses that wide public adoption of NFC is still a decade away, really got my back up. It was more upsetting than that beer bottle that ended up on the 100m track on Sunday night, and here’s why.

You’re kidding, right?

NFC a decade away? Let’s put this in perspective, in 2004 Nokia, Philips and Sony established the Near Field Communication (NFC) Forum and in 2006 Nokia released the first NFC phone, the 6131. Even just last week I met with a brand new company that’s developed some fantastic technology around NFC. For the uninitiated, NFC stands for near-field communication which is a set of standards for smartphones and similar devices to perform actions in close proximity, usually no more than a few centimetres. It’s most mooted usage is contactless payments, like the swipe payments you can make with some bank cards these days.

Hey there Mr. NFC, why so slow?

It dawns on me this is a common problem with marketers like me. We get our knickers in a twist about the shiny new thing, but not all of them work out in the real world. Take a bow, QR codes and Bluetooth. Often, they are a solution without the problem. Even social media can be construed as hit and miss, just look at General Motors who several months ago pulled its €10 million marketing budget and walked away from Facebook, announcing that advertising on the largest social media platform in the world had “no value.” It’s the age-old temptation to jump into tactics without strategy, when in fact you need a framework in place before you start to build. This is especially true in digital marketing, where we’re particularly quick to adopt new technologies. After all, if you don’t keep up with the pace you may as well get out the game. Or worse, become a TV buyer.

What does defining strategy mean?

  • Identifying business problem
  • Identifying customer need
  • Setting SMART objectives
  • Identifying target market
  • Identifying key messages
  • Identifying channels
  • Identifying KPI’s


Applied to channel planning, a good approach is to define the buying cycle from ‘desire’ to ‘purchase’ and beyond, then match each stage of the buying cycle to the most suitable channels.

As a community, we eMarketers are proud to be early adopters and first-to-market because it demonstrates knowledge and, hey, it’s cool – but it’s not always to our benefit. In the case of NFC, Forrester have reported that the infrastructure required will take three years to properly deploy, while pushing NFC-supporting phones into consumers’ hands will take at least two more years. They predict that critical mass i.e. more than 15-20% of the population, will not be achieved for at least three to five years. In fact, they question to whole premise of NFC: “Neither consumers nor merchants are struggling with the swipe mechanism of traditional card payments, leading many to wonder if mobile digital wallets are a solution in search of a problem,” says analyst, Denee Carrington.


So that meeting I went to last week? I’ll be putting that one on the backburner: sometimes we need to step outside our marketing bubble and remember how the average consumer thinks. I’m reminded of that feeling at the gym when comparing myself to all those big guys. Then as soon as I walk out the door I remember what the average person looks like.

Maybe in the world of marketing, it pays to be average after all?

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About Web Liquid

Web Liquid is a digital marketing agency with offices in London, New York and Lagos.


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