QR and NFC Help Rock the Youth Vote

What better way to get out the youth vote than by encouraging them to register using their mobile phones? For the November 2012 elections, Rock the Vote created a campaign combining traditional and digital out-of-home media to let people register while they’re waiting for the bus.

Twenty-one-year-old Rock the Vote aims to build the political power of young people, who, it estimates, make up close to 25 percent of the current electorate. The “We Will” campaign educated its target about efforts to suppress voting and hooked them up with the appropriate voter registration pathway for their state. The mobile and out-of-home campaign included billboards, shopping malls, phone kiosks, wild postings, taxi tops, college shuttle buses and digital screens in high-visibility areas.

The media came courtesy of the PVBLIC Foundation, an in-kind grant-making organization that aggregates unused media across all platforms and provides it to non-profits. The Judge Group, an independent media agency, provided the media strategy and planning for the campaign.

The Judge Group selected Mobiquity Networks for delivery of the mobile campaign. Mobiquity offers proprietary Bluetooth and Wi-Fi integrated technology for delivering multimedia messages to mobile devices. Mobiquity’s platform allowed Rock the Vote to switch the message from “register to vote” to “vote” as registration deadlines state by state.

In addition, Blue Bite provided its mTAG technology to enable some outdoor signage with QR codes that led to voter registration websites. In New York City and Miami, it also enabled people with phones equipped with near field communications (NFC) technology to simply hold their phones to the sign to receive the link.

Mikhail Damiani, Blue Bite chief executive, estimates that approximately 10 percent of phones in the United States have NFC. “From the technology standpoint, it’s much easier than QR,” he said. “You don’t need an application, you don’t need to rely on the phone’s camera.” Neither does the location need to be lit up, as it does for a phone’s camera to read a QR code. Nevertheless, Damiani said it’s premature to use the tech on its own in campaigns where reach is important.

At press time, the campaign could not release interaction numbers. While Blue Bite typically charges on a performance basis, the digital outdoor interaction numbers do not paint a big enough picture, Damiani said. “The more interesting number would be, how many people actually registered.

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