RFID to Test Magazine Readership in Waiting Rooms

I have been watching RFID, or radio frequency identification, for a while to see how it will be applied in our world. EZPass is one example of RFID usage for those that travel toll roads in the Northeast United States. It is also being used by WalMart and some of its suppliers to track pallets of products from the manufacturer to the distributor, to the storage room and, subsequently, the storeroom floor. I recently read about a new application of the technology: Folio Magazine reported that waiting room readership will be measured using RFID.

Mediamark Research and Intelligence (MRI) announced that it is going to measure magazine readership using RFID technology. By placing a tag in the cover of each magazine and sensors throughout, with a nearby reader, MRI says it will be able to determine which magazines are opened, for how long, and where in the magazine it was opened and closed. This test is being done in conjunction with DJG Marketing’s Waiting Room Subscription Services and is slated to run in 10 to 20 waiting rooms during the first quarter of 2008 (no, I don’t know which waiting rooms or where).

This seems like overkill to me. Though prices have fallen, RFID technology is still not cheap to implement. After investing, how useful will the results be? The system will measure when magazines are picked up and put back down, but likely won’t know why the magazine was put down. Did the person find it uninteresting, or did their waiting time merely come to a quick end? I understand the importance magazines place on their readership scores, but will this test truly provide the intended results? Guess we’ll wait and see.

Don’t worry just yet (unless you happen to find yourself in one of those “bugged” waiting rooms). You won’t see this application of the technology appearing on your subscriptions anytime soon.

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