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DMA’s All for One Conference: 2-D barcodes all the buzz

Christopher Hosford | BtoB Magazine

Two-dimensional barcodes were all the buzz at the Direct Marketing Association’s All for One conference here on marketing integration, with presentations detailing how those little printed boxes of squiggles and shapes, read by smartphones, help augment multichannel marketing programs.

“More than 1 billion people currently are using smartphones, and we estimate there’ll be a crossover between mobile and PC usage by the year 2015,” said Karen Howe, marketing director at Microsoft Tag, which markets a proprietary 2-D barcode. “With this technology, marketers can take advantage of pre-existing behavior that people are very comfortable with and deliver compelling experiences.”

Whether taking the form of the increasingly familiar black-and-white Quick Response or Datamatrix barcodes, or emerging forms such as Microsoft’s colorful Tag, 2-D barcodes can link to video, photo galleries, offers, opt-ins, landing pages—anything available on the Web to provide richer information than print alone.

“Print already is at scale,” said John D. Fauller, director-print-to-mobile solutions at Condé Nast Publications, who talked about 2-D barcode use by several of his company’s magazines. “If you can connect readers through the mobile Web, it’s a huge opportunity.”

Fauller said Condé Nast’s Allure used 2-D barcodes to enhance its annual gift giveaway contest, which traditionally had been promoted only in print and on the Web. This year, the frequent use of barcodes throughout the magazine provided a 38% lift in mobile activity with the contest and a more than twofold increase in contest entries, Fauller said.

Other Condé Nast publications use 2-D to increase reader engagement with editorial features. Golf Digest, Lucky and Teen Vogue are using the barcodes to link printed features to online videos of golf instruction or runway fashion shows, for example.

In a separate presentation, Mitsubishi Electric Cooling and Heating, a North American distributor of the Japanese company’s HVAC equipment, explained how it uses Microsoft Tag barcodes in product literature sent to its vendors. The scanned codes connect smartphones to the company’s YouTube videos, which show customer testimonials.

“The videos not only help the ultimate consumer know about our HVAC technology but also allow our contractors to showcase themselves as technological experts, since they’ll be installing the systems,” said Gabriel Weiss, interactive marketing supervisor at Mitsubishi Electric.

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