Is The Cellphone The Missing Link Between In-Store and Web Promotions?

In theory, a smartphone can bring into the store the depth of data possible on the web, merged with enough site- and user-specific data to make even the stodgiest CRM system blush. But can it work in the real world? NeoMedia is arguing that it can.

NeoMedia is pushing its offering dubbed iPOS (Interactive Point of Sale), which company COO Martin Copus describes as delivering "the ability for any piece of POS/POP to link directly to the mobile Internet, with all the multimedia possibilities the Web offers."

The way it works is that a small piece of decoding programming?about 85K worth?is embedded into the handset. When a customer approaches select marketing or promotional material, the customer can use the phone's camera to capture an image of a two-dimensional smartcode, which launches the phone's browser and takes it to a specific page.

With such an equipped phone, customers would have to type in URLs and "very few handsets make it easy for you to do that," Copus said.

Not only does iPOS automatically deliver a page, but it delivers pages that are coded with especially long URLs, which even a laptop-equiped consumer would never type. "This is one of the major advantages: You can go to very deep-linked URLS?maybe dozens of characters long?in one click," Copus said.

That lengthy URL delivers one-half of the CRM package, potentially detailing the exact location, chain and other particulars associated with that promotion.

The second half comes from the information the customer gave when he/she initially signed up for the service, including gender, country, language and age bracket. "Even though they are clicking on the same ad, poster or billboard, different customers will see very different Web pages" such as a German-language version or a Gillette ad that will send a man to a men's razor page and a woman to a female razor page.

This may not work as cleanly as these guys suggest, but if NeoMedia, which has worked on cellphone marketing issues with Coca-Cola, Gillette, Heineken, Kellogg's, McDonald's, MTV, Saturn, Sony and Frito-Lay, can add a little more interactivity into a static store environment, it might have an impact.