Winning the Game of Mobile Tag

In USA on June 12, 2011 by @LauraEWilson Tagged: , , ,

There are a lot of really nosy people out in the world who love to know  “secrets.” I’m one of them.

It doesn’t matter what that secret is about; it’s about knowing something and having access to information that might not be accessible to the person standing next to me.  The mobile tag is an increasingly successful way to engage customers and it piques human curiosity. People want to know what’s “behind the code” for two main reasons.

In the US the mobile tag that you’ve been seeing the most of   is a QR Code and chances are you’ve probably seen one on a billboard, magazine ad or on the back of a bus but maybe you didn’t  even know what it was. A QR code, or a “Quick Response Code”  is really just a two-dimensional bar code that’s readable by smart phones. The information encoded in the code can be any kind of data. It can be a URL, contact information or any other data or information that you choose to encode.

QR Codes aren’t the only mobile tag out there, you may have also seen Microsoft tag or JAG tag among others. The various mobile tags differ in appearance and the way that the data is encoded but the overall concept is the same. The  mobile tag is not a new technology but we have seen a sharp increase in their prevalence in the US over the last several years.  Like so many cool and techy things, Japan was the first country to use mobile tags in great numbers.

Now before you write mobile tags off as a fad and say that there’s no way that people will continue to scan these codes once they realize that many of these codes are little more than a glorified ad I have to disagree. There are two reasons why the mobile tag will continue to dominate the global marketplace: hunting and gathering.

You know these types of people : “The hunters.” They’re always looking for a coupon, “freebie,” or  a good deal. The appeal of the ” instant lottery” with a mobile tag promotion will keep people engaging with them.

Then there’s “the gatherers.” They have an insatiable appetite  for more information. The mobile tag is perfect for integrating offline and online media and providing consumers with additional information. Mobile tags give people more of what they want immediately when they want it. This is a great way for a company to have an “extra salesman” at a point of sale location and give a consumer an instant demo of a product.

Really, there’s a ton of potential uses for a mobile tag as a communication and marketing tool but both the instant deal and instant information will be the driving forces behind continued  and increased usage in the coming years.

3 Responses to “Winning the Game of Mobile Tag”

  1. You do a nice job here of explaining what a QR code is, and also laddering it up to a broader trend that goes beyond just one technology platform. The human condition that is driving interest in these things may very well be the idea that we want to get behind the tag to the secret it has.

    Using visuals of what these tags look like was also a nice addition because it helps readers who might be unfamiliar with the technology to get a quick idea of what it actually looks like.

    The thing that was missing from this post was some real examples which could offer proof of your two prong description of the “hunters and gatherers” as the two personality types that were driving the adoption of mobile tags like this. What campaigns did you find which appeal to one or both of these categories? You start to share it with the “instant lottery” example, but it’s not clear which brand this is for and there is no link to learn more. In addition, the image is so small that it is hard to tell from that either.

    Adding these real examples is what would really make your model come to life and give more background around the points that you are making in your post about the rising importance of these technologies. (4)

  2. I’ve long been fascinated by QR codes. To be honest, I’ve never gone through the motions and tried to figure out how it works with my Blackberry. I think you make a valid point that “the mobile tag is perfect for integrating offline and online media and providing consumers with additional information.” Increasingly, social media has become the primary way brands interact with consumers. And in reality, consumers are out in the real world for just as much time as they are in the online world. Companies could really leverage the QR code in a more incentivized form (“Special deals lie within!”), which would drive more consumers to use them, rather than being secretive.

  3. I wanted to share this blogpost from Cone with you. The post makes the great point that “Marketers are employing QR codes in incredibly creative ways, but one of the most powerful and practical applications may be product and program transparency.”

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