Mobile marketing solutions provider Blue Bite and digital media company Reach Media Group (RMG) are teaming up to deploy NFC technology to over a third of RMG's 200,000 digital screens over the next six months.  In addition, Blue Bite is working with other partner networks to bring its total NFC deployment to 200,000 screens across the U.S. These digital screens, such as those found in malls, theaters, bars, clubs, gyms, airplanes, taxis, and elsewhere, allow advertisers to display video ads to millions of viewers per month. RMG, in particular, provides access to over 70 million viewers monthly.

Now those viewers will be able to learn more about any given advertiser using NFC technology. Simply put, it's one of the largest commercial rol-outs of NFC-based advertising this country has seen so far.

This post is part of a series on NFC here on ReadWriteMobile which will serve to get you up to speed on what NFC is, what notable developments are underway and what commercial programs using NFC will arrive this year. You can follow this series by clicking the tag (or bookmarking the tag) "NFC 2011."

This post assumes you are familiar with the term NFC as well as the technology's use in the mobile industry. If you're just starting to learn about NFC, you should begin here with the first post in the series to get caught up.

San Francisco, Other Major U.S. Cities a Part of Initial Rollout

The initial rollout with RMG begins San Francisco, where viewers will see a call-to-action appear onscreen after the ad, asking them to tap their NFC-enabled phone or scan the barcode located on Blue Bite's "mTAG" found at or near the point-of-sale. The inaugural sponsors of the new program are Hotels.com and The New York Times. (Disclosure: The New York Times is a syndication partner with ReadWriteWeb.)

Future RMG rollouts will reach New York, L.A., Chicago and Boston, while partnerships with other vendors will help Blue Bite reach even more regions across the U.S.

mTAG: Combo QR Code and NFC Tag

The "mTAG" is a trademark owned by Blue Bite which combines an NFC tag with a scannable QR code into a placard, allowing those familiar with NFC to tap their NFC-enabled phone on the tag, while also providing a way for those with older phones, or those unfamiliar with NFC technology, another way to access the same content.

In this particular campaign involving Hotels.com and NYT, end users will see the RMG screen branded like NYT's website, displaying news headlines, articles and ads. When the ad for Hotels.com appears on the sidebar of the screen, there will be a call-to-action to viewers to "find the mTAG" in order to access exclusive content. In future campaigns, this content could be a special, discount, coupon, or something else the advertiser wants to offer viewers.

After the user either scans the barcode or taps their NFC-enabled phone on the mTAG, they're taken to a proprietary webpage on their mobile phone, which thanks them for either scanning or tapping, as the case may be, then provides access to that exclusive content. It will also showcase links that allow users to download Hotel.com's and NYT's mobile applications. The platform can detect the phone being used in order to point the customer to the correct mobile app. Currently, Blue Bite supports all the major smartphone operating systems, including iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, Symbian and Windows phones.

NFC: A "Silver Bullet" in Mobile Marketing

Of course, NFC technology is not available to all mobile users at this time, though there are some high-profile devices which are out there or coming soon. Notably, Google, in partnership with Samsung, released the NFC-enabled Nexus S, and RIM (BlackBerry), HTC and Nokia have all announced plans for NFC devices in the future.

According to Dan Trigub, VP of Business Development at Blue Bite, his company believes NFC has a lot of value to the marketing and advertising industry going forward. "NFC has the potential to be the silver bullet in mobile marketing," he says. But unlike Google, which recently discontinued the use of QR codes in favor of NFC in its business listings service Google Places, Blue Bite thinks that QR codes will still be essential for many months, even years, as the transition to NFC occurs.

Currently, 40% of the phones in the market are smartphones, and fewer still are NFC-enabled smartphones. This will change in time, of course. However, Blue Bite says that full NFC market penetration among smartphones is still 2 years out, citing research from Juniper Research. The analysts at Juniper claim that by 2014, 300 million phones will be NFC-enabled, the majority of which will be in the U.S.

To reach other mobile audiences, Blue Bite also offers tools to deliver content via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, WAP sites, mobile apps and SMS. Bluetooth has proved especially effective, but marketers tend to want to go with what's being "buzzed" about, which, these days, are mobile apps. NFC is starting to get buzz, too, which is one of the reasons why Blue Bite believes in NFC's potential.

You can see Blue Bite's mTAG technology in action here on YouTube.