Global Trends in 2D Tagging

Dave LawsonIn simple terms, 2D tagging (often used synonymously with QR-Quick Response, 2D Barcode, mobile tagging) describes a marketing strategy where the creation and rendering of a two-dimensional bar code that, when scanned through a mobile device, provides an immediate connection to content. Each 2D tag is encoded with specific information such as a URL, product and/or contact information. Most 2D tags require a tag-specific downloaded software application, which turns a mobile device’s camera lens into an optical scanner. When the mobile device is aimed at the tag with the app activated, the software scans and decodes the information, and links the mobile browser to a URL or microsite, for example.

The effects of this ability to make everything interactive with 2D tagging is readily apparent in some Asian cultures, where, for a number of reasons, it isn’t uncommon to use mobile devices to accomplish most activities the US still relegates either to credit cards or traditional and PC based medias. QR technology was invented in Japan (initially to track individual auto parts) which makes it a great example of a market that understands how enabling these codes can be. If you were to travel there, you could rely almost solely on 2D technology and your mobile device to find out everything from the caloric content of your McDonald’s #5 (from the code printed on the packaging), to getting directions to the doctor’s office in a large office building (from the codes on directional signage), to watching a video about how an expensive t-shirt you purchased was made from a scan of the price tag, and even to enter yourself to win a trip to Tokyo Disneyland from a scan on public transportation poster advertising.

One strong reason codes have such a high rate of adoption in Japan stems from the fact that most phones are shipping with proper scanning applications already on-board. Add to that the relatively high percentage of the population relying solely on mobile devices for most day-to-day activities. There, standard code technologies reduce the fragmented landscape we see here in the US (at my last count, there are 39 different companies vying for US 2-D superiority with some clear winners already).

Adoption here in the US has been slower than initially anticipated but continues to rise steadily. On an encouraging note, the diversity of major brands (and how they are currently using these codes to compete today), speaks volumes of both its imminent mainstream promise and customer’s desire to have these experiences.

Some recent recognizable examples:
Calvin Klein – activates customers with outdoor signage…
Chevy – for sponsorship activation on-site at events…
Starbucks – enables mobile payments…
Google – for tagging local small business and “Favorite Places”
Iron Man 2 – links to exclusive movie trailer.

With 2D tagging, the world becomes your PC screen and your mobile device becomes your mouse – so click at will! The trend is now.

For more details, check out Bryce’s series of posts on 2D Tagging and, as always, feel free to reach out to Knotice directly.

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