QR Code vs. Microsoft Tag…If Search Is Any Indicator

Last year, I did a simple analysis on terms found in the 2D barcode space and, after receiving a comment by a member of my LinkedIn group (2D/QR Barcode Strategy and Creative), I thought to revisit the research and provide an update.

The charts below are from Google Trends and serve to illustrate the search volume (top chart) and news reference volume (bottom chart) for the terms “QR Code” and “Microsoft Tag” in the U.S. for the past 12 months. The blue lines represent QR Code and the red lines represent Microsoft Tag. From these charts, it is easy to see that QR Code far outpaces Microsoft Tag with respect to Internet search/news and what people want to know more about or report on.

What’s interesting to see in this research is where within the U.S., on a state and city level, the great appeal for QR Codes lies. Here are the top 10 states:

  1. Iowa
  2. Colorado
  3. Minnesota
  4. Utah
  5. Illinois
  6. Kansas
  7. Wisconsin
  8. District of Columbia
  9. Washington
  10. Ohio

And, here are the top 10 cities:

  1. Austin, TX
  2. Minneapolis, MN
  3. Denver, CO
  4. Cincinnati, OH
  5. Raleigh, NC
  6. San Francisco, CA
  7. Chicago, IL
  8. Seattle, WA
  9. Washington, D.C.
  10. Philadelphia, PA

On a state level, what’s happening in Iowa, Colorado or Minnesota to drive such interest? I happened to come across a listing of top digital agencies in the U.S. and some were based in these top-ten states, could that be a reason? Regardless, where’s New York, Massachusetts, Oregon or California?

On a city level, I am most certain last year’s SXSW Conference is the reason why Austin ranked so high, but what about the other top-ten cities, what’s happening there? Also, why don’t cities like New York, Portland or Boston rank?

While I realize there are some caveats with Google Trend numbers, I believe the snap shot above provides a general enough statement as to which code type advertisers, agencies, consumers, news reporters, etc., are gravitating towards. It’s too bad we don’t hear from the soldiers on the ground (i.e., advertisers, agencies, code providers) as to what’s going on and why to help us understand the interest on the local level. It’s one thing to report gross scan rate numbers from month to month, it’s another to drill down a few layers to try and understand the how’s and the why’s.


2 thoughts on “QR Code vs. Microsoft Tag…If Search Is Any Indicator

  1. I dunno. I think that the people doing the searches may not be reflective of who decides on what format to use on the marketing team.

    But, good graphs.

    I also wonder about the terms we use to search all of these – Ex. mstag vs microsoft tag, and qrcode vs qr code or quick response code or 2d barcode. All things to consider.


  2. Thanks for the post, Roger. Volume of conversation online does seem to be leaning toward QR, but when it comes to conversations we're having with clients the idea of custom Tags, a predictable end-to-end solution, and investing in a platform that will evolve to consider trigger preferences of a brands audience (NFC vs 2Dcode vs. voice etc.) seems to resonate well. There is also the issue that because QR was a first mover, the format appears to be to 2D barcodes what Kleenex is to facial tissue.

    We also have some data suggesting that overall, users have a better experience when using Tag: http://www.slideshare.net/MicrosoftTag/day-in-the-life-of-mobile-tagging

    Nick Martin
    Online Community Manager
    Microsoft Tag

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