Arby’s Uses Mobile Image Recognition for ‘Snap and Rock’ Contest

Challenges still exist for companies that want to leverage mobile for marketing efforts that connect with the majority of their users. How do you create a frictionless experience for a user who wants to enter a contest, get more information or simply wants to interact with a company or event.

Smartphone adoption in the U.S. is nearly at 50% (49.7%) according to a recent report from Nielsen, but those users will still have to download an app to scan even a basic QR code. NFC is coming, but it’ll still be a few years before enough mobile users have mobile devices capable of communicating with the high frequency RFID chips.

Arby’s is using Pongr Photo Marketing as a solution, an image recognition technology that I was looking into 3 years ago for a project of my own. Pongr uses image recognition to trigger an event which usually involves returning an SMS message containing a URL. But that trigger can also be tied to back-end systems that include contest engines. The technology also powers, a social platform where users post brand images in order to earn status and points that can be redeemed for rewards.

In the Arby’s ‘Snap and Rock‘ contest, customers enter for a chance at a grand prize of an Ultimate VIP Concert Experience with Taio Cruz, The All-American Rejects or Trace Adkins. To enter a customer uses their mobile phone camera to capture a photo of one of the three musicians on a Arby’s drink cup, then email the photo as an attachment to an MMS or email to Within a few seconds the customer receives a text message with a link directing them to a mobile site where they can enter their name and email for the Grand Prize.

Marketing campaigns that use mobile must be simple and straightforward with a minimum of easily understood steps. They must be accessible to as many customers as possible, limiting a campaign to smartphone users who must download an app limits it’s audience before it even begins.