Mobile Marketing Summit – An Observation

Last week, Mobile Marketer hosted a Mobile Marketing Summit and one of the sessions, which was paneled by CEOs from various companies in the mobile space, discussed the topic “What Needs to Happen to Accelerate Mobile Advertising and Marketing Deployment During the Holidays.” During the session, the topic of mobile barcodes came up and was heatedly debated by panelists Greg Schmitzer (CEO, Mad Mobile), Nicole Skogg (CEO, SpyderLynk), Oren Michels (CEO, Mashery), Mike Wehrs (CEO, Scanbuy), Amielle Lake (CEO, Tagga Media) and Ken Harlan (CEO, MobileFuse).

In reading the session’s highlights, the one comment that I would like to focus on came from Nicole Skogg of SpyderLynk, the company behind the proprietary barcode format called SnapTag. Ms. Skogg said, “One of the issues around bar codes is that there are a lot of competing standards, which is adding to the confusion in the marketplace.” And continues by saying, “I think we will end up with one kind of bar code that means take me to a Web site and others that have some other kind of functionality behind them.” To Ms. Skogg, and others that see the industry from her perspective, I disagree.

First, I do not believe the term “competing standards” accurately represents the mobile barcode industry. In my mind, there are a number of competing code formats or types, but there is no real standard or one standard. QR Codes differ from Data Matrix Codes, which differ from Microsoft Tags, which differ from SnapTags, which differ from JAGTAGs, etc. Yes, they all compete, but there is no real or one standard in the industry.

Second, I do not believe there is as much confusion in the marketplace (i.e., among consumers), as Ms. Skoggs and others believe is present and, even if there was, it is easy to correct the situation. From my perspective, and from what others write and report on as well, it appears as though QR Codes are the most widely used codes in the U.S. marketplace and by quite some distance. Also, if advertisers simply identified the code that was featured in their ad then the thought, or worry, of confusion would go right out the window (e.g., “Scan the QR Code to receive a $20 discount on your next purchase.” “Scan this Microsoft Tag, etc.”).  Also, if confusion was a worry, why or how does Ms. Skogg explain her standing behind a product like SnapTag, which is not as far along as QR Codes with respect to use and adoption by advertisers?

Third, Ms. Skoggs talks about multiple codes in the marketplace and how confusing they are but, how much more confusing would it get if there was one code for this type of function/action and another code for that type of function/action? If I understand Ms. Skoggs correctly, which I believe I do, that would be insane and stop the use and adoption of mobile barcodes dead in their tracks. From what I can tell, there is no need for specialized codes. Am I missing something?

I read these comments from a CEO in the industry and I just wonder. What is her company’s game plan? What are their goals and objectives as a provider, a proprietary one at that? What does she see when a company like JAGTAG, which offers a very similar type of code, gets acquired? 

Although these are the only comments that I wanted to focus on, it’s worth mentioning that the panel seemed to have touched on the key factors and best practices which need to be in place to ensure the successful use of barcodes, and mobile, during the holiday shopping season. Just hope the audience was listening.

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6 thoughts on “Mobile Marketing Summit – An Observation

  1. I'm not sure what the end goal is but it seems to me (as an observer but also a 2D code practitioner/buyer), the current game plan is differentiate at all points. I have seen and publicly commented on an info graphic that snaptag put together (http://blogs.imediaconnection.com/blog/2011/09/06/snaptags-vs-qr-codes-round-2/?ref=IMEDIANEWS) and it boils down to intentionally disinformative (as long as we're making things up). Use these connectors to digital experiences thoughtfully and think it through as a marketer should. There are specific things you should/should not do but make good decisions as a marketer and you have tools at your disposal. With 2D codes, post cards, billboards, TV commercials, online display and search and everything else. They are all tools to use to tell your story and connect with your messages.

  2. Roger, thanks for the post about the panel discussion. One point of clarification is that I did not actually say “One of the issues around bar codes is that there are a lot of competing standards, which is adding to the confusion in the marketplace.” The Mobile Marketer editor added this commentary which I believe was something that was brought up by the audience during the panel.
    I stand by what I said about there being room for more than one type of mobile barcode. QR Codes were created for inventory tracking and shipping purposes by Toyota in 1994, and then they played a key role in evolving digital marketing in Japan and other parts of the world to connect a mobile phone user quickly and easily with a website. In the US, marketers have more options and capabilities to choose from with regards to mobile barcodes. We at SpyderLynk are excited about the opportunities presented by QR Codes and more evolved codes like SnapTags, which were invented specifically for marketing purposes and which deliver marketing campaigns with a branded interface. I think we share a lot of the same philosophies in deploying successful mobile barcode campaigns. I'd welcome the opportunity to collaborate with you to build the sophistication and effectiveness of this emerging marketing channel.

  3. Nicole: My apologies if I misquoted you, as I am always mindful of getting the facts/story correct. While I too believe there can be more than one code type in the marketplace, I do not believe it makes sense for one type to do this, another type to do that, etc., which was discussed in the article. That most certainly will confuse consumers.

  4. I like your views that mobile Marketing is a fast-growing sector, although it currently only accounts for a small proportion of most companies overall marketing spend. With the introduction of the iPhone and Smartphone's, Mobile Marketing is going to provide marketers with a highly targeted approach, reaching users whilst they are on the move. SMS, MMS is the most common form of Mobile Marketing used by companies to interact with their customers quickly. This is also one of the cheapest Mobile Marketing methods. Thanks for sharing with us.

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  5. I am totally agree with your suggestions that mobile marketing is a fast-growing sector, although it currently only accounts for a small proportion of most companies overall marketing spend. Crucial factors of mobile marketing are very small screen, which provides very little space to share your message and the act of checking their mobile device is combined with another action. Mobile marketing works best when combined with other advertising media. Love your article, thanks.

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