Mobile codes/tags have really jumped onto center stage within the past couple of months. Though they've been around for a few years now, they seem to be popping up in mainstream media more frequently now—from national periodicals to local news broadcasts and even late night talk shows (not to mention their use in marketing/communication materials).
As a supplement to a previous ND&P blog post on mobile tags (which you can read here), I recently wrote a comprehensive article about a few of the more (and less) common types of mobile tags. Most of you have probably run across QR Codes, for example, even if you didn’t realize that was the type of tag you spotted. Right now they are probably the most common type of tag being used in marketing pieces and campaigns. MS Tags by Microsoft™ are rapidly gaining in popularity, too. In the article, which you can read and download, I give visual examples and a few basic specifications for the following types of mobile codes:
- QR Codes
- MS Tags™
- DataMatrix Codes
I encourage you to thoroughly research the choices available when planning to use a mobile code. (I spoke directly with people at a few of the companies I researched in order to answer some of my more targeted questions.) Your advertising/marketing agency should also be able to recommend the best option for your specific project.
There are many factors to consider – from whether your audience will be using a smartphone or a more standard cell phone for scanning your code (not all codes work the same way), to how large the code will be printed on the final product (some codes work better in smaller sizes). And also, whether what the code looks like matters to you (some codes allow for visual customization). Here is an abbreviated list from the full article, outlining just a few of the things you’ll want to consider when choosing a code:
Things to Consider when Choosing a Mobile Tag
Code Duplication. As QR Codes in particular continue to increase in popularity, we could start seeing some accidental duplication. There are several QR Code generators publicly available, and many generate codes independently of one another. (Granted, the risk of duplication is likely very low.) Using a QR Code that has been generated by one of the proprietary options may be one way to reduce this risk (for example, the same company that creates JAGTAGs also offers QR Codes, as does the one that creates EZcodes).
Visual Customization. Some codes allow for more customization than others (like using your logo, images, or specific colors within the code itself).
Size Matters. Some codes are better suited to run in smaller sizes – like on a business card, versus a billboard.
Audience. Is your target audience more likely to have a smartphone or a more standard cell phone? Will they need instructions on how to use the code/download a reader (if required for your code)? Is your audience even likely to use mobile tags at all?
Cost. While there are many free types of codes, you may want to explore some of the paid options depending on how you’ll use the code, what information you’d like to track about its use, and what level of visual customization you require. And when choosing a paid option you can often choose either a term subscription for services, or negotiate a rate per project.
And here’s a couple of additional factors for you:
Longevity. Many of the proprietary code options will let you REASSIGN the content for a code you create with them. This means you might be able to use your promotional pieces longer – you don’t have to reprint or recreate them to include a new code. You can keep using the existing code and simply assign new CONTENT to it.
Relevance. In addition to being able to reassign content to an existing code, many of the proprietary code options (mainly the paid options), will also let you create VARIABLE CONTENT. You can send one type of message the first time a user scans your code, then send a different message if that same user scans it a second time, and so on. You can even vary your messaging based on factors like the weather. Imagine a camping retailer being able to customize messaging so that the audience gets information about waterproof gear when it’s raining.
Purpose. It doesn't really matter how hot and trendy mobile codes are right now if they don't make sense for your promotional efforts. So make sure you thoughtfully plan how to incorporate them into your program. What content will they deliver to the user? Is it content they can't get anywhere else? Is it content that not only renders well on a user's device, but is it content that will be relevant to the user when they view it (such as while standing in front of your billboard, or sitting at home with your magazine print ad, or on the subway car after seeing your ad on the ceiling, etc.). Does the code simply take a user to the homepage of your website... or does it deliver a video with tips for using your product, or directions to the retail store closest to the user's location?
How have YOU been using mobile codes/tags in your efforts, and what factors did you consider when choosing a type?
Read the full article “Mobile Tags and Codes: A Sampler”
(Shaun Amanda Herrmann)