Prospects for 2D, QR and Other Proprietary Codes?

Marketers - pay attention. This is an example that seems great in theory, but the "devil is in the details" of the implementation so to speak. This is among the top inquiries I hear from clients, "what do you think about 2D barcodes or QR codes as a means of connecting with customers?" I took this inquiry from a CPG client just a couple of weeks ago. I laid out the challenges. Their response was, "well, we're doing it anyway." Piloting is good - just go into it with your eyes wide open.

If you are a vendor with a solution for 2D, QR or other proprietary solutions, please let me know - I'll be doing some research on the options in the next month or so.

The more complicated - the more steps in the process, the more drop-off's you'll have as you try to pull your audience through the process. Using 2D bar codes or other symbols that require the user to take a photo and do something with it is still a scenario that is not well understood by consumers. It's not that it won't be, but if you are going to use these tactics, be prepared to invest in consumer education.

Here's an example from Sports Illustrated with Jagtag

This is an ad for their upcoming Swimsuit Edition 2010 is in their January issues.

Jagtag full page 
  

So far so good as I'm assuming this is eye-catching to many Sports Illustrated readers.

Here's the instructions in the top right corner:

Jagtag instructions

 The text reads as follows:

"WAS IT ONLY FOUR YEARS AGO THAT BROOKLYN DECKER WAS A ROOKIE? TO SEE THIS YEAR'S "ROOKIES," TAKE AND SEND A PICTURE OF THE JAGTAG ABOVE. VERIZON, AT&T, AND ALLTEL CUSTOMERS TEXT PICTURE TO 524824. ALL OTHERS TEXT OR EMAIL PICTURE TO SWIMSUIT@JAGTAG.COM."

The instructions need to be very clear. "Text a picture." ???

Campaigns should work across all networks. That it doesn't isn't necessarily the fault of JagTag or Sports Illustrated. It highlights the issues though with handset fragmentation and the varying features that phones have. Carriers also play a role here adding another layer to the fragmentation issues. They do bypass this hurdle with the somewhat clumsy experience of emailing the photo directly. Not clear what you do if your cell phone does not have a camera.

Jagtag tag

I sent the photo using MMS to the short code. First attempt - message failure. Second attempt? Nothing happened - at least not in the first 20 minutes after I sent the photo. I also emailed it. In less than 60 seconds, I had an email from "swimsuit" with a vertical collage of women wearing bikinis. I imagine that some version of this should have happened on my cell phone - perhaps providing wall paper or a link to some photos.

I am not picking on JagTag - their last campaign with SI performed well according to the the information they sent me. And, if we're going to teach consumers how "to do this," we'll need to start with small campaigns and learn from mistakes. Sounds cliche' but you need to start somewhere. I'm mostly saying, "be realistic with your expectations and understand the challenges."

From JagTag:

You might have seen that MediaWeek broke the news last weekend that JAGTAG will be activating Sports Illustrated's upcoming Swimsuit Edition, the biggest print media event in 2010.

We're delighted to provide Sports Illustrated the only 2D barcode solution that actually works for the majority of their consumers (85% of all mobile phones work instantly with no download, special sign up or Internet access required by the consumer). Interestingly, in our successful beta with SI's Swimsuit Vault this summer, SI readers engaging JAGTAG closely mirrored the mobile market. 22% of consumers participated via smartphone and 78% participated via standard phone, taking advantage of JAGTAG's unique capability to reach all phones with a camera.

Comments

Understanding the landscape of 2D and QR barcodes

It's tough to count the number of scan applications available today, and the focus of each application seems to vary - informational (as above), shopping, social. Have you completed the research on the vendors and options in this space? I'd be highly interested to read it.

re: Prospects for 2D, QR and Other Proprietary Codes?

Good points. It's worth mentioning that they could have avoided using the jagtag code completely and just used a picture recognition service. Just MMS in the cover of the magazine. Either way, terrible response from all these "demanding" calls to action. If you want the best response? Text GIRLS to 524824. Simple.

re: Prospects for 2D, QR and Other Proprietary Codes?

Good points. It's worth mentioning that they could have avoided using the jagtag code completely and just used a picture recognition service. Just MMS in the cover of the magazine. Either way, terrible response from all these "demanding" calls to action. If you want the best response? Text GIRLS to 524824. Simple.

re: Prospects for 2D, QR and Other Proprietary Codes?

It's as though no one remembers or learned any lessons from :CueCat!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CueCat

Getting consumers to "learn" how to use information beacons is going to take a major shift, more likely to come via Games, interactive TV or POS (point of sale) than with print ads or posters. Interestingly though many retailers are getting angry at consumers using their iPhone's to check prices, so we'll have to see what happens.

I think there's a place for discrete tags to help consumers with information, but I wouldn't wager investment capital on this iteration of it as THE solution. Anyone testing or investing needs to have a longer time horizon.

re: Prospects for 2D, QR and Other Proprietary Codes?

Julie - Thanks for the blog about JAGTAG. My name is John Cashman and I run the Operations at JAGTAG. While we can certainly differ about why 2D barcodes, will or won't be successful, I do want to make sure our product always works over email and our short code (524824). So therefore if you could send me a separate email to support@jagtag.com, we can investigate why you might have had some issues with the short code.

All the very best,

John Cashman
VP - Product Development

re: Prospects for 2D, QR and Other Proprietary Codes?

2D Codes are one of the least utilized and fastest ways to bridge the online - offline worlds. Retailers and CPG vendors need to look past the cute use of this technology and focus on how amazingly fast, simple and effective they are at providing consumers with specific information which MIGHT make it possible to make a better and more informed purchase.

Check out www.2dcodeme.com as a new site just launched as a forum for all things 2D/QR code related. Very consumer friendly.