Bored, sitting in the doctor’s office one day, I came across a Lennox ad in a magazine that had a strange-looking 1-inch graphic in the corner. I’ve seen plenty of QR Codes, but this one was nicely branded specifically for that company. From a marketing standpoint, it was intriguing. So, I went online to learn more.
I found out that it was Microsoft’s new barcode for smartphones, called “Tag.” Microsoft had announced their new technology back in 2009 at CES. But I had never even seen a “Tag” on a product, ad or otherwise until now.
Tag allows marketers to create either a HCCB (High Capacity Color Barcode, which creates clusters of colored triangles, instead of the black & white squares like traditional QR codes) or a Custom Tag (a code that allows the use of a branded image).
Here’s how Microsoft describes it:
“It’s easy — just place Tags on your packaging, print ads, or marketing materials. When folks scan a Tag on their smartphones using the free Tag app, it can take them to your mobile site, show a video, download an app, add contact details to their address book, or dial a phone number. You don’t have to worry about people correctly [sic] typing in your URL or finding you online ? Tag instantly puts the relevant info at their fingertips.”
Although many popular brands are using these codes for advertising, and consumers are gradually becoming more aware, we have yet to know whether it’s effective enough to justify using it. There are several hurdles to cross first:
- There is a level of understanding required. In fact, I’ve come across people who actually work in the IT/tech industry who didn’t know what QR Codes were.
- Your audience must take further action to download the correct app, in order to read the code.
- You’ll be asking your consumers to invest more time and effort to engage with your brand. There must be some kind of incentive for them to be willing to give up that time.
- Where will the code lead your audience? Is the landing page mobile-friendly and relevant to the marketing piece or product on which it’s featured?
- Ask yourself if simply having a shorter URL to a mobile-friendly landing page is a better solution.
On the other hand, there’s no harm in experimenting with barcodes in your marketing. Besides, 5 years ago not everyone knew what Twitter was. And judging by the statistics below, it’s still something to consider…
- In the first quarter of 2011, QR code scans increased 181% over the previous quarter for US smartphone users. (eMarketer, May 2011)
- 87% of QR code users are using them to get additional product information, and QR code scans grew by 1200% in the last six months of 2010. (Mobio Identity Systems, 2011)
Statistics by Invodo