How to Achieve Success with Mobile Barcodes

By TMCnet Special Guest
Laura Marriott
  |  May 01, 2011

This article originally appeared in the May 2011 issue of NGN.

Mobile barcodes are popping up everywhere. Browse through the pages of almost any newspaper or magazine, look around you at a retailer’s point of sale, product packaging or even at billboard advertising campaigns lining any street and they will, in many cases, include a mobile barcode.

The integration of mobile barcodes into marketing and advertising initiatives is an ideal way for a brand to activate a campaign, making it engaging and interactive for the consumer. Mobile barcodes open up new opportunities for marketers to build lasting relationships with consumers in a targeted and measurable way. Consumers can connect with their favorite brands quickly and easily – not only participating in interactive communications at the moment of impulse to help foster the feeling that they are a valued customer but sometimes even helping them to make informed purchase decisions by providing comparative pricing, detailed product specifications and so on.

As new marketing and advertising channels become mainstream, like online and mobile, new media executions are becoming increasingly important components of any campaign. Consistent branded communications across a number of channels expand the reach and frequency of a message but also increase brand awareness. With these new media channels, it is important for brands to maximize the potential of their campaigns by ensuring all the elements are strategically planned at the outset of a campaign. For example, mobile barcodes should be incorporated as an integral part of the overall campaign and should be included as a key campaign element rather than being added as an afterthought. A plan for longer term consumer engagement should also be established as part of the overall campaign objectives so that the established dialogue can be maintained.

Mobile barcodes are becoming progressively more popular and in some cases even replacing more common calls to action like URLs, search or SMS shortcodes. Mobile barcodes fuse traditional and digital media instantaneously – all the consumers need to do is scan a mobile barcode to go to a website, access additional information or have multimedia content sent to their phones.

It is very important that the content is relevant and compelling, as consumers only opt in to receive communications when they perceive them to be of value. Whether that be in financial terms or in less tangible services based on entertainment and utility, it is important to consider how to incentivise a campaign, using fresh, relevant content, discount coupons, or exclusive information, for example, to encourage interaction. Many brands such as Calvin Klein, Nike, Sky and H& M already are successfully and repeatedly using mobile barcodes in this way in their campaigns.

The design of the advertisement is also of paramount importance for a strong consumer response. To grab attention, the mobile barcode should be positioned in a way that makes it easy to identify and scan, and placed in an area of prominence and on a flat surface. If possible, the barcode should also be printed in black and white to ensure ease of scanning by the majority of mobile devices and barcode readers.

The newness of barcodes to the mass market means that brands also need to consider placing descriptive copy next to the barcode, explaining what the code is, how it is used, how to download a reader and what it will provide them with. This will help to facilitate and encourage consumer participation.

Although putting a mobile barcode campaign together is relatively straightforward, choosing the right vendor to help guide and supply the necessary technology is an important first step. The right partner will provide solutions for mobile barcode creation, management, resolution, and data reporting, as well as ensuring global connectivity with built-in security, reliability and consistently high quality user experiences. There are also a number of different barcode symbologies available in the market, so it advisable that marketers choose a vendor that does not use proprietary codes that can restrict the number of potential users due to the fact that they can only be decoded by a software client provided or licensed by the company that developed it. Non-proprietary codes on the other hand such as QR or Datamatrix have universal availability and can therefore be read by a larger number of mobile barcode readers.

Consumers will be deterred from using barcodes if they have an initial unsatisfactory experience. To ensure the greatest degree of success and ongoing consumer participation, barcodes should be tested using a variety of scanning software and mobile devices. It is also essential to ensure that the mobile pages and/or applications that are linked to codes are optimized for mobile viewing to guarantee the highest level of consumer satisfaction.

Mobile barcode interactions are also measurable, on a code by code basis, so brands can focus their spend on the most profitable channels or media locations. The ability to measure and analyze the data generated by a campaign determines success rates and ROI, helping to shape future campaigns and ensure effective consumer engagement.

Laura Marriott is CEO at NeoMedia (News - Alert) Technologies (

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Edited by Stefania Viscusi