A major television network says SMS is more valuable than QR Codes, but no so fast says a CEO who defended QR codes during what was described as a heated CEO panel at Mobile Marketer’s recent Mobile Marketing Summit.

It is surely no surprise to anyone who knows me that I am a HUGE believer in Mobile Marketing, Mobile Advertising and the future thereof… The Rapid Rise Of Mobile Advertising And mCommerce, Another Reason Why Marketers Need To Be Mobile, and Mobile Marketing Spending To Have The Biggest Increase Over Next Five Years are just three of the posts I’ve written that revolve around Mobile Marketing and Mobile Advertising.

So far as I’m concerned, Mobile Marketing and Mobile Advertising are exploding and will continue to explode. How the advertising and marketing message is delivered, however, will be the question.

Text, Scan Or Tap?

On one hand there is Text or SMS. And if CBS, the aforementioned major television network is any indication, SMS could lead the way. In an article appearing on MobileMarketer.com, Philippe Browning, vice president of advertising and operations at CBS Mobile, New York said of SMS and QR Codes…

“Everyone has phones that support SMS… (whereas) QR codes have an added barrier with a download and although we are interested in it and have experimented with the technology, it doesn’t have the same value of a text.” 

That apparently was their (CBS) justification for making the decision to use SMS rather than QR Codes in print advertisements which will tout their forthcoming new fall lineup. The ads are designed to bridge mobile, video and print. Each ad will have a call to action which will prompt you to text a specific keyword to a short code which will ultimately lead to a video clip with a teaser of the show.

Also consider the fact that with 82% of all American cell phone users now using text messaging compared to only 40% who own a smartphone, it’s obvious SMS will reach more consumers.

On the other hand there are QR Codes. And if Mike Wehrs, the aforementioned CEO and defender of QR Codes, has any say it, QR Codes will lead the way. As CEO of Scanbuy, a global provider of mobile barcode solutions, he sees first hand the power of QR Codes… “We are seeing increasing rates [for bar code scanning],” Mr. Wehrs said. “We’re seeing through our own networks 3 to 5 million scans a month – those are numbers that start to matter. For the holiday season this year, you are going to see growth rates equivalent to what you saw in 2010,” he said. “There is still tremendous opportunity here.”

Ok so do you as a marketer, retailer, business, and so on go with SMS or QR Code as part of your Mobile Marketing strategy?

But Wait, What About NFC?

Looks like we’re going to need another hand for Near Field Communication or NFC, is rapidly growing in usage and popularity. NFC, according to Wikipedia “allows for simplified transactions, data exchange, and wireless connections between two devices in close proximity to each other, usually by no more than a few centimeters.”

And there are many out there who agree with this headline, which appeared on an article on uxmag.com: Near Field Communication Will Make Our Daily Lives Better. In the article the writer tells of the buzz that is going on in the blogosphere re: NFC with the Big 3 in mobile platforms, Anrdoid, iOS and Windows Phone 7 all rumored to be working on platforms to support NFC. It’s not surprising the Big 3 are working on supporting NFC, especially when you consider that according to analysis from Juniper Research, NFC mobile payments will top $75 billion worldwide by the year 2013. Also factor in another study which indicated one third of iPhone users who said they were “likely” or “very likely” to use mobile payments.

One  more thing on NFC…  (from an article on gsmarena.com) “At a recent presentation in Hong Kong, Nokia announced that from now on, NFC functionality will feature on all Nokia devices, a move that would subsequently boost uptake and implementation of the technology, especially when you consider that Nokia sell around 100 million smartphones a year.”

And here’s a quick, neat video Nokia put out re: NFC…

So How Do You Decide?

Well in actuality you don’t really need to decide as you can use more than one of these applications for any given integrated marketing campaign. The most important thing to do will be to test. Yes, that simple four-letter word that all marketers learn in day one of Marketing 101 class… TEST. Kick the tires on SMS, QR Codes and NFC. And then kick them again. See what works best for what audience for what product and on and on… TEST.

Of course, the market, not marketers, will ultimately decide which format wins, just as it has in the past with VHS/Beta and DVD/Laser Disc. Interestingly, as the VHS/Beta decision shows, the best technology won’t always win, so it’s best to familiarize yourself with all the options to be ready for anything.

Sources: MobileMarketer.com, uxmag.com, Wikipedia, gsmarena.com, Google Images, The Star GroupQR Codes Or SMS – The Mobile Marketing Battle Heats Up