Apple Pay: Narrowing the gap between posters and purchase
As Apple launches its latest range of devices, James Davies, chief strategy officer at Posterscope, says the out-of-home sector has a lot to be excited about.
Around the world, millions of people waited with bated breath on Tuesday night for the unveiling of Apple's latest suite of potentially game-changing innovations. With a new 4.7 inch iPhone 6, 5.5 inch iPhone 6 Plus and the hotly anticipated Apple Watch announced, fans were not left disappointed and neither was the out-of-home (OOH) industry.
Both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus offer Apple Pay, an NFC-enabled mobile payments system that allows owners to upload their credit and debit card details to Apple's Passbook app and then use their phones as mobile wallets.
Not only does this make paying for goods while in-store a simple matter of holding your phone up to a card reader while pressing the Touch ID button, but it makes shopping on a mobile device far quicker and easier. It will bring a whole new level of mobility to mobile payments as it removes the need to register for websites or spend time filling in lengthy payment forms.
Instead, all of the necessary payment information will be stored in the Passbook app and making a purchase will be a simple matter of clicking the 'Apple Pay' button, meaning shopping while on the move will be a much more efficient and speedy process.
Depending on how Apple opens up the technology it may eventually become possible to use Apple Pay to make direct purchases from OOH sites."
This won't fundamentally change the way people interact with poster sites, but what it will do is bridge the gap between poster and purchase. Just as iTunes transformed how we bought and listened to music, Apple Pay will revolutionise the way people pay.
Rather than seeing a poster advertising a new pair of shoes for example, searching for it on a mobile device and then registering personal, payment and shipping details, consumers will be able to buy the shoes as soon as they view them on their phone. It will remove the hassle of mobile shopping by effectively turning it into a one-click payment process.
By reducing the friction involved, Apple Pay will narrow the gap between seeing an OOH campaign and making a purchase and that is an exciting prospect for the industry. Not only will the new payments system open up greater opportunities for OOH campaigns to directly influence the purchase decision, but it will also make it easier to track the effectiveness of a particular campaign.
Depending on how Apple opens up the technology it may eventually become possible to use Apple Pay to make direct purchases from OOH sites, however, this will become clearer in the coming weeks as further details of the new system emerge.
Apple isn't the first to enter the NFC payments market, with names such as Google, ISIS (now called SoftCard), and CurrentC having started to attempt to introduce mobile payments to the masses.
So far uptake has been slow; however, with more than 220,000 US retailers already signed up to roll out Apple Pay technology and 800 million iCloud accounts already in use, Apple is in a strong position to propel a previously niche market into the mainstream.
Even though Apple uptake in the UK isn't as strong as in the US, with Android dominating around 60% of the UK smartphone market, it won't be long before we see the "Apple effect" take hold of mobile payments and open up new opportunities for the OOH industry.
Although Apple's latest unveiling may not have provided all the answers the OOH industry was looking for, it has certainly raised some interesting questions around the impact of mobile payments on OOH campaigns.
As more details emerge of Apple's plans to wean the world off its addiction to cash, I look forward to seeing how brands will capitalise on the opportunity to more closely align poster campaigns with sales.