Marketers Are Too 1D In 2D
The recent news of Microsoft pulling its TAG technology has shone a light on the entire 2D category -- its huge promise to build lasting, valuable relationships with consumers and its many missed opportunities. The issue with 2D is not its technology, but its application.
2D technology needs 3D vision and strategy to be effective.
A few weeks ago, Microsoft announced that it will step back from its 2D mobile activation code Microsoft TAG by 2015, which has caused many to speculate that this could mark the beginning of the end of 2D technology, which by and large has had similar issues with attaining mass consumer adoption. But 2D technology, including QR codes, is not going anywhere.
Despite bearing the Microsoft imprimatur, TAG never gained traction with consumers due to limited visibility and the fact that consumers did not see a need to scan. It was more of a curiosity with TAG -- it stood out, showcasing that consumers can scan to access a digital experience, but now that NFC chips are common in Microsoft/Nokia devices, the focus is on the tap, not the scan.
Although similar in nature, QR codes are different than Microsoft’s proprietary 2D tags. A poor consumer/user experience and lack of a compelling value proposition continue to contribute to QR’s lack of mass adoption. In addition, QR codes were not intended to be used for marketing, as they were originally developed to track auto parts in Japan in the early 90’s.
Microsoft TAG, QR codes, Data Matrix codes, SMS Calls-To-Action, NFC (Near Field Communication), Gestures, Augmented Reality, and iBeacon are all tactics that may or may not survive mobile’s evolution. But the basic premise of a consumer seeing something and scanning, being pushed an opt-in message, searching, tapping, and texting will still be a very important part of tying campaigns together. Not surprisingly, consumers seek convenience, offers, entertainment or utility when they engage with brands through their phones.
According to comScore (June 2013) the amount of people who scan a QR code at least one time per month has increased 23% YOY June 2012 (22MM people) vs June 2013 (27MM people). As smartphone proliferation increases, the number of scans will also increase.
Top five considerations when launching campaigns with mobile calls-to-action
- Direct and clear call to action: QR codes or text for more information work better when you communicate what the consumer will receive when they engage.
- End user experience: Create an optimal experience for the end user. Once they scan or text, drive them to a destination that is optimized for mobile or provide simple instruction on how to redeem a coupon if done via text.
- Environment: Consider the environment in which you are showcasing the call-to-action. It seems obvious, but 2D codes in a magazine work better than a 2D code for scanning on an OOH kiosk. Conversely, NFC tags would require additional in-book print cost and would not be optimal, but they work better within OOH environments.
- Metrics: Track and optimize for benchmarks. When building physical to digital campaigns, make sure you set up tracking and analytics by medium to understand which media drive different response levels.
- Experiment: Understand that all owned media assets and packaging can tell a story outside of just the physical attributes. Technology such as Google Glass and other Augmented Reality applications will become more and more prevalent in 2014, and they are a great way to break through the clutter and amplify your brand’s story.
Five examples of brands doing it right (utility, offer, convenience, entertainment)
- Tesco: Subway shopping in South Korea, consumers would scan a QR code under the product to buy a product and have it delivered to them (consumer convenience).
- JCPenney: OOH billboards and in-mall signage asking consumers to text “Deal” to 527365 for a back-to-school shopping offer.
- Samsung: NFC-enabled bus kiosk billboards allowing people to download music directly to their device while waiting for a bus (entertainment).
- Audi: Augmented reality in car driver’s manual. Point the AR app at a place in your car and it will tell you exactly what it does (utility).
- Heinz: QR codes as well as augmented reality experience on packaging (entertainment, offer).
The Internet is no longer confined to the home. The ability for consumers to access additional product information, deals and offers, compare prices and ingredients is ever-increasing in a world where over 60% of the population has a smartphone. As a result, tying the physical and digital worlds is more important than ever before for marketers and consumers alike.
Marketers with the vision to see 2D in 3D will be the ones
who build the ties that bind.
Jeff Malmad is Managing Director, Mobile at Mindshare