Linking its offline and digital efforts, USA Today has begun adding 2D barcodes to its daily print edition that readers can scan with their mobile phones to see photos, videos and other online content.
At least one 2D barcode -- supplied by Microsoft -- will appear in each section of the newspaper, providing access to financial news and sports scores, for instance, as well as photos and other material tailored to each area. To use the barcodes, users first have to download the Microsoft Tag reader application at http:/ gettag.mobi.
"This initiative is part of our goal to bring together our digital and print platforms to provide our readers easier access to special features from the newspaper," stated Dave Hunke, president and publisher of USA Today, noting that "advertisers can also take advantage of this new feature."
The Microsoft Tag is designed to work across major smartphone platforms like iPhone, BlackBerry and Android to scan tags wherever they pop up. Various publishers and advertisers have utilized the Microsoft technology for marketing campaigns, including Allure, Conde Nast Traveller, Entertainment Weekly, Ford, General Mills and Toyota.
Most recently, The Seattle Times used Microsoft Tag to promote its new dealDigger daily specials with a full-page ad on the back of the front section that included a 2D barcode. The initial tag took users to the online sign-up page for the program but future ones may provide access to the digital deal of the day. Microsoft competes in the barcode space with other vendors, such as Jagtag, ScanLife, Stickybits and ShopSavvy.
USA Today has developed app versions for the iPhone, Android and other smartphone platforms, as well as the iPad. In addition to offering expanded content via mobile phones, the new 2D codes in the print edition could also open up new advertising opportunities for the newspaper with a print circulation of 1.8 million.