2D Barcode Trend Numbers

Recently, Mobio Identity Systems published a report which stated, “mobile barcode scanning increased by 4,549 percent in the first quarter of 2011 on a year-over-year basis.” Other companies, such as ScanLife and Microsoft, have also reported similar findings (i.e., percentage growth rates in the hundreds or thousands), but what does all of this really mean? Before trying to answer the question, let’s consider the following scenario.

Suppose in March 2011, I scanned only one barcode and in April 2011, I scanned 46 barcodes. That would equate to a 4,500 percent increase in scan activity. So, if I as one person could drive a number like that, does that mean that Mobio’s report was based on a single person making scans? Of course not, but Mobio, as well as the others, never seem to divulge the numbers from which the percentages are derived (i.e., in the scenario above the 1 and  46 scans). In my mind, it seems as though it would be a lot more useful to know the actual number of individuals making scans from one time period to another than to know a percentage amount.

While it is not my intention to punch holes in the work that has gone into compiling the data and publishing these trend reports, I do believe the right number, the more accurate number, the more telling number, should be reported, as opposed to somewhat baseless percentages. No one is a bigger fan, advocate, evangelist for barcodes than I am, but failure to view the barcode industry and its trends on real numbers reminds me of the dot-com bubble, and we all know how that turned out.


5 thoughts on “2D Barcode Trend Numbers

  1. When were the last real scan numbers released? JagTag's SI campaign? Droid? Microsoft Allure (while failing to mention it was 30 codes that cumed to their 350K scan hype, not an individual code)????? Stuff from last year?????

    All of these massive percentages without any real numbers? Or, the Mobio breakdown that's represented as an Industry report but is barely a sliver of the market (um, what's with all those eScans, not print scans?).

    No one's buying into these stupid (sorry, no other word for it) percentages or microscopic (myopic) reports.

    Yes, people are putting QR codes everywhere in some sort of low-budget, wishful-thinking effort, but, if those codes actually resulted in mainstream engagement numbers (please, someone, hit a million!) I guarantee we'd have had someone trotting out real numbers and claiming the prize by now.

    All hype, no cattle?

    The real numbers should be better. The question is, “why aren't they?” Until someone 'fesses up and addresses reality, the 2d/QR industry is merely deluding itself — no one else is buying the hype.

  2. Anonymous:

    I could not agree with you more. Thank you for the comment.

    In my mind, there is one very simple solution that would enable and facilitate the creation and implementation of 2D campaigns worth talking about (i.e., worth talking about based on scan volume, as well as, dare I say, an increase in product sales, customer loyalty, etc.), but it seems as though none of the major platforms, the ones who keep coming out with these reports, wish to hear it. So be it.

  3. Thank you for this, Mr. Marquis and honestly, I'm tired of growth stated in terms other than marketing performance. As data is not coming from the providers or the brands – perhaps you can tell us some known success stories in the 2D space. We're all excited to know.

  4. Adrian:

    Thank you for the comment. Unfortunately, I have never been shown real stats by either a brand, agency or provider. As a result, I have nothing to forward. Should that change you will be the first.

  5. App companies (who own the scanning software) don’t want you to have exact numbers for 2 reasons:

    1. Their competitors will know how big their market share is
    2. They want to encourage the idea that scanning is increasing in popularity, so % increases sound good where actual numbers may not.

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