2-D Barcodes to Feed Consumers Content Such as Coupons
When a casual Mexican restaurant chain, was launching its third outlet in the college town of Ann Arbor, Michigan, they wanted a way to draw students to the new location -- and they wanted to speak their technological parlance. They bought ads in the campus newspaper and posted promotional posters, each with a code the tech-savvy students could scan with their phones to get a mobile coupon for a buy-one-get-one-free burrito.
The e-campaign netted a 52% redemption rate with about 4,000 scans, roughly 1% of the total target student population.
These codes are today's digital version of clipping coupons. But these codes -- known as 2-D barcodes, since they're scanned both horizontally and vertically -- can also deliver product reviews, video demos or any other tool a marketer has in its digital arsenal.
Who is buying in?
There is small but growing group of marketers warming to the long-promised technology. In fact, among three vendors working to make this a reality -- Scanbuy, Jagtag and Clic2C -- there are at least 15 initiatives involving national brands in the retail, fashion, food and beverage categories that should hit next quarter.
Nike 6.0, the action-sports division of the footwear maker, recently deployed 2-D barcodes at several sporting events it sponsored late last year, delivering content about Nike athletes to fans who sent in images of Jagtag codes
Microsoft will be slapping 2-D barcodes on the next round of packaging for its Xbox games, said Larry Harris, CEO of Ansible, which worked with Microsoft on a 2-D-barcode campaign to promote an enterprise server.
Jagtag is trying to solve that problem by making it easier for consumers. Rather than downloading an application, they take a picture of Jagtag's 2-D barcode and send it to a short code, and Jagtag sends back a URL, coupon or other media via multimedia messaging service.
But analysts and Jagtag competitors agree that for 2-D barcodes to gain any meaningful traction, the code reader must come preloaded on cellphones -- and only the wireless carriers can make happen, as they dictate the specs to handset makers.
The wireless carriers are slowly coming onboard as they look to transactions and commerce to help drive revenue. Scanbuy has been chasing AT&T and Verizon for at least 18 months; late last year, it got Sprint to approve its application, so users can download it on 40 handsets sold by the carrier. The No. 3 U.S. carrier began promoting Scanbuy's application on its website late last year.
Jagtag's service works with AT&T and Verizon. "Carriers need to figure out how to make money on navigation, transaction and advertising," Mr. Bulkeley said. "On mobile, consumers are going to go directly to what they're interested
in, not go search for it."
In Japan, They're Called QR Codes
"Quick-Response" codes are well-entrenched in Japan, where consumers routinely use their cellphones to check e-mail, download movie trailers, navigate Tokyo's labyrinthine streets, pay water bills, buy Cokes from high-tech vending machines, download e-coupons and even have their fortunes told.
Oh the future looks very bright. What will become of scissors, will we ever hear, "stop running with your cellphone".