2007/04/05

Barcodes and Marketing

I thought I knew of a lot of companies purveying their own (or a partner's or parent company's) 2D barcode technology, but I didn't know the half of it. It's pretty amazing how much marketing potential these things have. Even so, while everyone is scrambling to differentiate themselves and position their dot box in a rapidly crowding market they are overselling the whole idea of mobile barcodes.

Don't get me wrong, I think it's really cool that countries besides Japan and Korea are seeing this as an alternative to SMS-based content discovery channels. Plus they can look cool, in the right light I guess. They are getting covered more in the media, even mainstream, non-keitai-freak news. I referenced a story in Financial Times about how mobile industry leaders are taking this technology seriously a few posts ago. A few days ago the New York Times ran a story about how this new technology can communicate with your mobile and included their very own barcode using Neomedia's qode the Aztec 2D-barcode format.


Great. So everyone agrees that it has potential.

Lateley I have seem some blogging about Trillcode and their ability to add logos to their codes.

Adding logos close to the code is possible with almost any code format including QR-code. How different is the Trillcode above different from these examples?

left to right: QR Code generated by Moji-Q Maker , Bee Tagg, standard QR-Code with a little embelishment

If brandability is the goal, then I would recommend an mcode.

They work in a variety of shapes (square, rectangle, L-shaped) and can use multiple colors in the pattern to help match the brand. However, the code that has the most potential in this arena is Colorzip. While most of these that you see look like this:

They can also look like this:

Still cooler is stuff like what Mobot has going on. While other mobile scanning tech is meant to give your phone a "real-world connection", mobot is trying to do that without the use of dot boxes.

Some of the marketing-oriented code formats (Shotcode and Colorzip for instance) can only hold a reference ID and actual data retrieval requires a connection to a server. I suppose this is a combination of wanting to stay in control of usage and keeping less-optimized codes.

Many marketing scenarios proposed would work better (or at least be more convenient to the user) with RFID or Bluetooth approaches. For instance, it is difficult to scan stuff on-the-go. Take out your phone, start the app, maybe a second menu to navigate and now your are ready to scan. Maybe a quick-launch or running in the background would help you scan those codes while you are rushing about.
Granted, Bluetooth and RFID are more expensive, but for the on-the-go situations they are much more convenient. Suica in Japan, for instance, lets you pay for your train ticket on your way through the turnstile. Just get your card or suitably-equipped mobile close enough to the sensor and you are good to go. Can you imagine the lines if everyone had to scan a code to pay? It would be easier to just buy a regular ticket. The example the NYT gave of people driving around scanning bar codes of houses seems kinda ridiculous to me.
The point is that RFID and Bluetooth (and other such technologies) are better suited to some scenarios. If they are driving by it, Bluetooth. If they are walking by it, RFID. If are standing by it or holding it, then barcodes would work (and definitely be cheaper ;)). The idea of someone having an auto accident because they were trying to scan a billboard is pretty ridiculous.

1 comment:

bloggervance said...

qode is a patented mobile barcode reader from Neomedia Technologies.