NFC device prompts shoppers to interact with your ads

TV mounted sensor detects passers-by and reels them in for marketing promotions

Linkett is redefining "TV advertising." The Canadian company has created a digital signage solution that detects a shopper walking by a TV and lures them to stop and interact with ads by offering them content they can grab with their phone.

It's an interesting idea. Mobile commerce is exploding: According to e-marketer.com, retail sales occurring on mobile devices skyrocketed 81 per cent last year to nearly US$25 billion, accounting for 11 per cent of all US retail e-commerce, and it predicts by 2016 24 per cent of retail e-commerce will come from mobile. Yet people generally dislike mobile ads, so the question of how effective they are is a persistent one.

If your business wants to do a better job of serving marketing content to smartphone users, Linkett's solution might be attractive considering TVs are becoming ubiquitous in retail. In fact, the use of televisions in retail settings has been growing year-over-year at a rate of 12 to 15 per cent and is only at the beginning of "an exponential curve," says 20-year-old Douglas Lusted, CEO and co-founder of WestonExpressions, the company that created Linkett.

Linkett is a three-pronged system made up of an NFC-enabled motion sensor that sits on the corner of the TV screen and communicates with a small Internet-connected media player as well as back-end cloud-based software. When customers walk past a Linkett-connected TV the system can change the message or use audio cues - such as a head-turning beep or spoken voice that says "Come back and tap your phone to get a coupon at XYZ store for 50 per cent off a sweater"--to grab their attention.

Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry users who have an NFC-enabled phone can tap it on the sensor to get coupons, music, video, directions or any other content a retailer wants them to have. Lusted says his company makes sure the ads include a QR code for iPhone users and others without NFC capability.

But why would someone want to get a coupon from a TV they have to be standing next to instead of having it delivered to their phone?

That differentiation is the beauty of his product, Lusted says.

"We're a pull service not a push service. If you download an app on your phone it constantly... gives you information that may not be totally relevant to you, that you may not want," he says, adding that with Linkett, the consumer makes the decision what promotion he wants to learn about.

Lusted says interaction with these kinds of requested ads is around 400% to 500% higher than through passive offers.

Linkett records each consumer interaction--how many people walked by, stopped in front of the unit, or requested content. Businesses can using the Linkett cloud platform to see these analytics in real time and find out which TVs running particular ads are getting the most engagement, as well as create new ads on the fly.

Linkett hardware will start shipping late fall, and if you pre-order a package now for $99 you get three Linketts, three digital media players and two months of the online software free.

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