How Adweek Reports About QR Codes

For an on- or off-line publication such as Adweek, I would like to believe that editorial space is at a premium and that the articles published are reviewed and edited by someone for value and content. Yesterday, I noticed an article on Adweek’s website by staff reporter Lucia Moses titled “QR Codes Getting More Use in Magazines” and, as great as it is to read a relatively pro-QR Code (2D barcode) article, I’m troubled by the terms Ms. Moses used and how convoluted the article seemed. Below is the article with my comments interspersed in bold italics.

QR Code Getting More Use in Magazines – Effectiveness remains a question, though

Interactive barcodes have been popping up more in magazines—Meredith Corp. has just announced it had selected Microsoft Tag as the 2D barcode standard across its magazines—but some questions still remain about its impact as an advertising tool.

Mobile barcodes link ads or content in magazines to digital editorial and advertising content when a reader swipes the page with a mobile device. Meredith has already used Microsoft tags in its publications like Better Homes and Gardens, Traditional Home, and Family Circle, and for its part, it claims that of people who snap on the ads, 10 percent to 20 percent view or use the ad in some way. Meredith wouldn’t reveal what percent actually snap on its ads though.

Interactive barcodes, 2D barcodes, mobile barcodes, well, which one is it? Microsoft Tag or Microsoft tag? Here again, which one is it? Also, what is it to snap on an ad? Or, do you mean scan an ad? And, what is meant by swiping the page with a mobile device? Does a consumer have to swipe the page or swipe a code? If it’s meant to swipe a code, well, here too, what does it mean to swipe, because swiping and scanning are two different things with a mobile device?   

GfK MRI Starch recently released data confirming that QR codes, or snap tags, are showing up more in magazine ads.

From January to August, MRI measured more than 72,000 ads. Five percent of them contained QR or snap codes, up from 1.3 percent in the second half of 2010. And the mere presence of the codes seems to get readers more involved with the ads containing them—of those who saw an ad with a mobile barcode, 5 percent took a picture of it with their cell phones.

What’s a snap code? Is taking a picture of the code the same as scanning a code, because scanning and picture taking are two different things?

 By comparison, 14 percent who saw an ad visited the advertiser’s website and 20 percent of readers who saw an ad with a scent strip tried the strip. However, websites and scent strips have been around a long time and people are used to them, whereas QR codes are relatively new and may require the user to download software to access the code. 

Yes, a consumer/user may have to download software to access the code, but this has less to do with scan rates than an advertiser first explaining what a code is, where it will lead a consumer and why a consumer should scan a code in the first place. Yes, there is no doubt that the downloading of software plays a part in scanning, but this is the last piece of the puzzle. If it so happens that app download is such an issue, advertisers can simply fix the problem by providing app download information along side the code.

The tags don’t bring additional consumer attention to ads, though. An average of 52 percent of readers read or saw an ad with a mobile barcode—just below the 54 percent who saw any ad.

When you say “tag” are you referring to Microsoft Tag, 2D barcodes, mobile codes, interactive codes, QR Codes, snap tags? So, of the 52% only 5% scanned a 2D barcode? Is that what this report suggests?  

Question to Ms. Moses, while I have not seen the MRI research, the biggest question I have is, how many people were surveyed? It’s one thing to know how many ads were reviewed but, what about the people themselves? Was this a national survey, are there demographics to report, is there information about a respondent’s experience level with codes, etc., etc.? Again, great that 2D barcodes are attracting attention within the advertising community, but an article such as this leaves a bit to be desired with respect to thoroughness and in depth reporting.

For the players at home, an interesting sidebar, when you look at the article link above you’ll notice that AT&T is advertising their 2D barcode products. As of late, I have seen a lot of advertising from AT&T for their barcode program and I wonder if they are gaining any traction in the space.


2 thoughts on “How Adweek Reports About QR Codes

  1. That seems to be a very confusing article for a reader that knows nothing of 2D codes. It's not the first badly written article on the subject, but consistency in naming conventions throughout an article is a pretty basic journalistic skill, right?

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