2D Barcodes Affecting Mobile Marketing

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In the world of marketing there are trends that come and go, and there are tactics that have stayed the test of time. With the ever evolving world we live in, people have been digesting information in new ways as far back as anyone can remember. Over the past few years we have seen a boom in smartphone use, and the need for mobile marketing.

According to a study conducted by Nielsen, by the end of 2011 approximately 50% of Americans will have a smartphone. As the use of smartphones rise, so does the use of 2D barcodes. “A new analysis by Scanbuy shows growth of quick response (2D) barcodes has been exponential from January 2010, with traffic up over 700 percent. In July 2010, there were more scans in a single month than all of 2009 combined, Scanbuy notes, and usage seems to have accelerated sharply in the fourth quarter,” reports Mobile Marketing and Technology.

A Look Into 2D Barcodes
Target, Starbucks and Bluefly.com are just a few popular retailers who have already taken the plunge into 2D barcodes. So what exactly are 2D barcodes? According to Wikipedia, “A matrix code, also known as a 2D barcode or simply a 2D code, is a two-dimensional way of representing information. It is similar to a linear (1-dimensional) barcode, but has more data representation capability.” Which are different than QR codes, which are, “De facto standard for Japanese cell phones. Also used with BlackBerry Messenger to pickup contacts rather than using a PIN code. These codes are also used frequently for Android OS phones.”

An example of both codes are below:

2D Barcode


QR Code:

As you can see they both look a little different, but in the end they both do the same thing—act as a traditional barcode to transfer information to make a sale or other information.

Why They Are Gaining Popularity?
Leah Guimond, the spokeswomen for Target puts it this way, “At Target, we know that our guests are relying more and more on mobile devices, so we’re providing convenient, on-the-go mobile solutions for our guests. Target is the first national retailer to offer a scannable mobile coupon program that allows guests to receive exclusive offers directly on their mobile phones.”

Retailers aren’t the only medium taking advantage of these barcodes. Universal Pictures has started implementing QR codes to promote movies. Doug Neil, SVP of digital marketing at Universal Pictures, told DM News that, “Universal used QR codes on movie posters that gave consumers promotional material. The effort, created with digital agency 360i and mobile barcode firm Red Laser, incorporated mobile barcodes into all creative, including out-of-home posters, print ads, in-theater displays and online and TV ads.”

I think the real reason these barcodes are becoming so popular is the accessibility factor. More and more people have smartphones, and it is easier to have a coupon available on your phone that is always with you, than a piece of paper you probably will forget to bring with you. It also allows people to participate in a campaign. With social media becoming more popular as well, we are feeling a need to interact with brands. These barcodes seem to be doing just that.

How to Implement 2D Codes in Your Marketing Campaigns
Because these codes can be printed on print and sent via SMS, it’s a great way to start using SMS and track your direct mail campaigns. Rich Eicher, the CEO and founder of Skycore LLC (a company who makes readers for these codes) says, “It's an ideal solution to engage customers in both print and mobile media and track the effectiveness of promotional spending."Just as you do with traditional coupons, these barcodes allow you to track how many people are using your promotion, allowing you to measure your ROI effectively.

Barcodes don’t have to be only for discounts either. Jack Daniels is using these codes to help promote the 160th birthday of Jack himself, and is trying to make his birthday a national holiday. “JAGTAG mobile barcodes are featured throughout the campaign on in-store signage at national retailers, the campaign’s press microsite (www.JDBdaymedia.com), as well as Jack Daniel’s campaign banners and promotional pins. Consumers can snap and send a photo of the Jack Daniel’s branded JAGTAGs with any camera phone to receive the official campaign video and see how many others have signed the petition, updated in real-time by JAGTAG’s API.”

Creativity is the best tool any marketer can have, and the same goes for using 2D and QR coupons. Whether you are using it for coupons, direct mail campaign or to track how many people are engaging with your brand. However you choose to use these new codes, the fact is you should be using them.

About the Author: Shannon Suetos is an expert writer on phone systems based in San Diego, California. She writes extensively for an online resource that provides expert advice on purchasing and outsourcing decisions for small business owners and entrepreneurs such as VoIP service at Resource Nation.

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LisaP 10-22-2010 4:45 PM

I love this idea and would like to find out a little more about it, specifically how to get started and the cost associated with it.  Any help would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks!

Peter M. 10-22-2010 6:51 PM

Great article, I like the fact that you distinguished the difference of 2D barcodes and QR codes. I think bar codes are great for tracking print media campaigns and can bring customers to a unique page, perhaps unviewable by any other means but the unique barcode. This will provide better analytics for marketers when done correctly.

PAY-PER-RESULTS SEO 10-23-2010 2:23 AM

Interesting, this isn't happening in the UK yet but no doubt it will come.

MichaelN 10-23-2010 9:06 AM

Publishing companies can look into Microsoft's version of these.  Their product is called Microsoft Tag.  We tested all of the available 2d tags and the Microsoft Tag was by far the best.  It is free to publishers and the App is free for users. Microsoft has a great system for building the Tags and tracking the scans each day.  If you are thinking of using 2d tags your best overall option is with Microsoft. Visit http://tag.Microsoft.com to test it out.

MarthaS 10-25-2010 7:59 AM

May want to run spell check before posting. Approximately is mis-spelled in the second paragraph.

Nicholas McQuillin 10-25-2010 7:07 PM

The comment about Japanese phones is very true and it is almost hard to find an advertisement in Japan without a code linking to important contact info, website, or coupon. It is a standard here and that normally means it is coming to NA and Europe next. ~ Commented through my Website Magazine iPad App!

Al C 10-27-2010 3:45 PM

the costs are minimal from the development stand point. QR codes can be made online. http://qrcode.kaywa.com/

you can create tags directing traffic to all sorts of information and websites. They can be made in several sizes, download them and add them to your print or online media.   We recently used them in giveaways and social media campaigns, a very effective tool for funneling traffic. The only limitation we have found is that this is geared more to the tech savy audience.

digitekprinting.com 02-04-2015 9:17 AM

There are also many businesses that uses the QR codes for their promotional campaigns and strategy, most of them printed in various materials like the postcard, posters, banners etc.. this is one way to easily determine the business using mobile technology,

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