Microsoft Tag, Where Did You Go?

What does it say when a leader in the 2D barcode industry stops using their own proprietary barcodes in their print advertising? Frankly, your guess is as good as mine, but I’ll take a stab at it.

A few months ago, Microsoft ran a magazine advertisement to promote its Office 2010 software, and featured in the ad was a Microsoft Tag (see top image below). In this month’s issue of WIRED magazine, I spotted the very same advertisement sans the Tag (see bottom image below). So what gives? 

Microsoft Tag

Microsoft Tag

For starters, it strikes me as strange that Microsoft does not use Tags in a comprehensive and integrated way throughout all of its marketing, advertising and promotions activity. What better way to introduce and educate business professionals and individual consumers on 2D technology and, just as importantly, to gain market share and share of mind versus the 2D barcode competition.

To pull the plug on using a Tag in this campaign tells me 1) the response rate did not meet management’s objectives and or 2) there was no real strategy behind the use of a Tag in the first place. If it was a matter of not meeting objectives it would be interesting to know what they were. Were they based on the number of Tag scans, number of product demonstrations downloaded and or number of software sold? If it was a matter of strategy why wouldn’t a company that knows and understands 2D technology like no other not have a strategy in place?

In my mind, these marketing based issues seem like a lay-up for a company such as Microsoft, or is it simply a matter of Microsoft being faced with the same creative and managerial issues that other companies seem to run into when it comes to developing and implementing a 2D campaign. Does the pulling of the Tag in this campaign have anything to do with the future of the Tag barcode? Not that I want to read into something that isn’t, but one can suppose.

All told, Microsoft’s action in this campaign baffles me. If anyone from the company cares to explain and comment I, for one, would welcome the conversation.


3 thoughts on “Microsoft Tag, Where Did You Go?

  1. I'd say this is more a matter of the first ad sending a mixed message (two separate calls to action) and the second message being targeted at what they want the consumer to do.

    They don't want the consumer to go to a mobile web site, they want them to go online to a traditional internet site. Fair enough. The internet is still in operation.

    There may be an ad campaign for Office that is specifically for mobile, but, that's more likely to come bundled with Microsoft's efforts to bring Windows 7/Mobile to more business users.

    Microsoft Tag are not going anywhere. They just changed their Terms and Conditions and have made commitments through 2015 in them. With Windows/Mobile, we will probably see a big push for Tag and MS Reader in the very near future.

    Basically I wouldn't read to much into the one ad above. They are driving traffic to a traditional site and they appear to be using Tag very methodically when they can guarantee value (which costs money and takes time to implement). Perhaps a year from now, Microsoft will have mobile sites for all of their various products and a team managing them. That takes time to put into place. They have the cash to do it.

  2. A: It is not my intention to read much into anything. I am trying to look at this campaign at face value and these are the conclusions I draw and come away with. I know Tag is not going away anytime soon, and that the T&Cs just recently changed, but what does it say when a company does not fully embrace its own product/service.

  3. Hey Roger!

    I wanted to highlight that the Office 2010 “Make it Great” campaign is still actively using Tag in their print publications. We have highlighted this campaign on the Tag Showcase page and is visible here:

    The campaign is still actively in market but we will be updating the Showcase with metrics related to Tag performance once they are available. We are happy to share those with you directly as well so you can see the impact Tag has when included in print campaigns.

    Office has also included Tag on their product packaging. XBOX also continues to integrate Tag into their product packaging, in game, and XBOX Live Dashboard advertisements.


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