I just received a press release about Jeff Hayzlett’s new book, Running the Gauntlet, and was interested to see that, even with all the talk about QR codes lately, he chose to use SnapTags—not QR codes—to provide interactivity with his audience.
In the book, released just this month, Hayzlett has added SnapTags to the front each of the 35 chapters. The tags contain links to a video of Hayzlett explaining what the chapter covers.
SnapTags are yet another form of 2d barcode. They have similar characteristics to QR codes, but unlike QR codes, you can also take a picture of them, text it back to SnapTag, and the content (image, video, or link) will be sent back to you much the same way as JagTags.
But unlike JagTags or QR codes, SnapTags are their own mini mobile universe. The SnapTag platform is built around mobile SnapTag sites so the person scanning the tag or accessing the content automatically lands on a mobile optimized page. Each page also contains social media links to allow viral sharing by default.
Another difference is that SnapTags are embedded in an open ring, so the marketer can use its logo (or any other image or content) inside the ring without interfering with the tag. QR codes can also be branded, but the logo is contained within the code itself, so when any kind of branding is added, it degrades the code. If too much information is removed, the branding can render the code unreadable or make it difficult to read. SnapTag’s open ring solves that problem.
I’ve seen Hayzlett’s book, Running the Gauntlet, and used the tags. They are admittedly very cool. But they do raise the question — how many different types of 2d codes do people really need? SnapTags have a lot of wonderful features, including the fact that they make branding easy and solve some of the challenges associated with non-proprietary codes, such as sending people to non-mobile sites and not including social media.
But how many different 2d codes do we have now? Microsoft TAG, QR codes, JagTags, SnapTags, Datamatrix, BeeTAG, Scanbuy, and the list goes on. Then there are 2d barcode-like codes like Google Goggles and Digimarc Discover. Some are proprietary. Others are not. Some platforms scan certain codes, but not others. The more codes we have to solve problems with other codes, the more confusing it becomes for the user. Which code am I scanning? Do I have the right software? Can I just text back a picture instead? Or is it not one of those?
We’re at a confusing time for 2d barcodes right now. They have great usefulness, but the plethora of different types and functionalities can create confusion, too. Does adding new forms of barcodes really make things better? As service providers, do we offer them all? Or do we pick one and stick with it? I wonder.