Check the Facts on 2D Barcode Claims

By | October 7, 2011

Recently, I was reading an interesting blog post on a technology offered by one of the 2D barcode providers (Microsoft Tag) that allows marketers to easily track the device being used by consumers to access content via 2D barcodes using something called device ID. This would allow them to provide unique information for each person without knowing anything else about them — an anonymous personalized experience.

The case study involved gaming (each time the person returns, the experience continues), but it could be used in multiple other forms of marketing.

The case study was very interesting, but in the set-up, the author made a claim that created an immediate firestorm: that this was a feature that QR codes didn’t offer. But the author was tackled (verbally anyway) by other readers with gusto. QR codes can offer this feature using a re-directing engine. In other words, this functionality cannot be offered using the free online versions, but with many of the proprietary QR services (or using a firm capable of managing some level of QR programming), it can — just as marketers can often create personalized QR codes for each recipient (such as those that send people to personalized URLs).

The challenge, as the author argued, is that there are some 200+ QR readers on the market. Since this functionality is readily available only through proprietary versions (which technically makes them no longer QR codes since they are no longer open), it becomes a risky proposition. By using a non-QR 2D barcode like Tag, which is widely recognized and has a deeper installed base, the risk decreases.

Granted, it is possible to offer many of these “proprietary only” features with open QR codes, you have to work with a provider capable of doing the programming. This takes it out of the realm of the average print / marketing service provider, which is looking for something out of a box. But that’s not the same thing as the functionality being offered at all, and depending on the volume of the campaign and all the associated costs, for a marketing firm or print service provider, the difference between using proprietary and non-proprietary codes could be significant.

It’s an interesting discussion about functionality, adoption, and risk that is happening across all forms of Internet marketing. We all want to stay on the cutting edge of technology, but none of us knows what we don’t know. Sometimes, a little knowledge can be more dangerous than none. So check your facts, especially when dealing with the functionality of these new(er) technologies.

Check with your software supplier. Check in with the members of industry list serves or industry discussion groups. Get those questions “out there” and gather a wide range of perspectives, insights, and experience from those who might be looking at the bigger picture from a little different angle than you.

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One thought on “Check the Facts on 2D Barcode Claims

  1. Angela Van Holland

    I had listened to that same webinar and was very surprised. I did not add to the mix, but knew that the presenter was a microsoft user only. As we have adopted QR codes (we believe this is the direction that marketing will pursue–as design did with Apple) and have worked to bring the software to track the scans, it has been difficult to help educate on the differences/explain and evaluate the clients best fit. Thank you for this article.

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