Mobile Tagging: Bridging the Gap Between Online and Offline Advertising

By Dane Troup

FD kinesis websiteHow do you drive people to your web content when they’re away from their computers? Easy, make your offline marketing clickable. By using mobile tags, users can scan 2D barcodes that link directly to web content – offering detailed information, coupons, downloads and other targeted offers.

For example, a phone aimed at a band’s gig poster could get songs, videos and even a “buy now” option for tickets. If you run an outdoor on a bus shelter or rail display and it is in front of the same group of commuters for months, include a mobile tag that allows daily updates of content, offers, polling or contests that would increase value to the buy and extend the time people spend with the ad.

How does it work? Mobile tags are barcode like images called 2D Barcodes. Using a mobile application and the phone’s camera, the user can shoot a picture of the graphic and the phone will browse directly to the web page programmed to the image. The most commonly supported 2D Barcode types are Datamatrix and QR-Code. A number of competitors are also popping up trying to gain ground in the growing market. Shotcode, Semacode, Scanbuy, Google, Firefox, Nokia and Beetag are all jockeying to deliver applications to advertisers. Snaptell is developing a solution that will load content by shooting a picture of the advertisement itself, not just a barcode.

The technology is already commonly used in Japan and Europe, where consumers regularly download coupons or other advertising offers. Phones not having the application pre-installed and multiple bar code standards in the U.S. are slowing adoption here, but agreements are being worked out so use of the technology is expected to pick up steam next year. Sprint just worked out a deal to start bundling the service on their phones.

One benefit for advertisers is that they can gather data on customers. The data will show the location of the cell phone transmission or demographic information about the publication being read. Different ads can be sent to individuals, based on their likely age or geographic location. In exchange, companies will offer freebies, such as product trials or ringtones, etc.

As the use of Web-enabled smart phones grows, and the speed of mobile devices increases, there are bound to be hundreds of new applications. The first brands to successfully embrace the technology will get the biggest and best rewards.

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4 Responses to “Mobile Tagging: Bridging the Gap Between Online and Offline Advertising”


  1. 1 bkempfdesign December 4, 2008 at 8:39 pm

    Great article and an exciting technology. It will be very interesting to see how designers embrace this element. Traditional bar codes have always been an element that have been problematic for designers and often overlooked until the end. This especially true because most bar codes offer no value to the consumer. These new codes, however, seem to offer a wealth of potential value to consumers. Designers will really need to focus on making it part of the concept and not an add-on.

  2. 2 Dane February 18, 2009 at 12:30 am

    Make your own mobile tags here – http://www.tagmore.com/moo/

    lots of fun colors!

  3. 3 Dane February 18, 2009 at 12:55 am

    this one can create multiple types of tags – URL, geo, phone, email etc …. http://zxing.appspot.com/generator/

    another one.. cant read it but i figured it out. Its cool because you can add text to it. – http://mojiq.kazina.com/

  4. 4 Ronald February 27, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    here is a cool video on future mobile uses


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