Interview with 3GVision

Today, I spoke with Ofer Lev, Vice President Products and Marketing at 3GVision. 3GVision is the global pioneer and leader in mobile barcode reading and advanced image processing technologies.

Here's our discussion:

RM: How would you describe the use and acceptance of 2D barcodes in the U.S. today, and what will it take to raise overall awareness? 
OL: The acceptance of QR codes is improving in the U.S. even though it is still far from Japan where they are proven to be very useful. Saying this, the U.S. market still faces several challenges, primarily the fact that big players (mobile operators, big publishers and big brands) are not in the picture yet. However, as more barcode campaigns are initiated and big players enter the game (mobile operators, big publishers), the use and acceptance of 2D barcodes will increase.

What is needed to push things is more highly visible QR code campaigns with interesting and exclusive content. In Italy, for example, Panorama magazine managed to push QR success with campaigns including exclusive content and video related to hit feature films.

RM: When a company comes to 3GVision, what problem are they trying to solve or work through? Are they simply trying to drive traffic to their website, enhance the customer experience, show themselves as forwarding thinking (i.e., first to use 2D barcodes), find another type of response mechanism, etc.?
OL: Companies approach us with a wide variety of issues. Publishers and content producers are searching for ways to revive publishing with multimedia and up to date content and increase advertising. While advertisers and brands are searching for ways to introduce innovative campaigns and better engage target audiences with exclusive content, coupons, games etc. Traditional advertising cannot accurately measure consumer interaction with a brand. Our i-nigma end-to-end solution provides real-time tracking of ongoing campaign success according to key indicators like response volume by location, time, user segmentation etc. You can see how many people are interacting with your campaigns in real-time, allowing you to make immediate changes. This leads to higher consumer engagement and more successful campaigns.

RM: How is a 2D barcode-based ad campaign any different than a direct mail or email campaign? 
OL: Besides being easier to manage and less cumbersome than typing, QR codes can store a variety of data including binary data, text and SMS messages, email addresses and phone number. Moreover, a QR code campaign gives the ability to track and analyze user behavior – once the barcode is scanned. With the i-nigma solution, the data can be analyzed in real-time giving marketers and brands a full perspective of traffic and the ability to maximize campaign performance.

RM: Do you advocate any kind of barcode testing during a campaign? For example, one version of an ad has a black and white code while another version has the code in color.
OL: It is important to test that the codes work before embarking on a campaign. QR codes need to be created with attention to physical size, error correction and density. Other than that it is a matter of personal taste and campaign design if to use black and white, colored barcodes or barcodes with logos.

RM: I understand that i-nigma is an end-to-end solution, but can it be used and purchased in parts?
OL: 3GVision’s i-nigma is an end-to-end solution comprised of a highly intuitive and simple barcode creation, campaign management and reporting platform enabling the following:
  • Fast and reliable web service for creating and web-linking Data Matrix and QR barcodes to information and promotional offers.
  • Real-time tracking of on-going campaign success based on number of codes scanned and response volume by location, time, user segmentation and media type.
  • Comparison analysis of different media channels/locations.
3GVision is open to discuss various business models with potential customers. Our product offering includes a handset reader and an enterprise barcode campaign manager. Each system component is priced separately. We also offer an SDK solution for vertical applications.

RM: What is the greatest benefit of i-nigma?
OL: 3GVision brings the right experience and technology to mobile operators, publishers, brands and advertisers. We are the only company with significant real-world, in-market expertise and experience in the mobile, image recognition and barcode markets.

In terms of performance the i-nigma barcode reader is:
  • The fastest, most accurate barcode reader in the market
  • Most popular barcode reader with over 150 million devices installed
  • De facto industry standard in Japan
  • Works on all platforms and supports the widest variety of devices models
  • Supports 1D and 2D barcodes
Moreover, the i-nigma barcode campaign manager creates barcodes, manages campaigns and gets reports on barcode scans. It integrates with mobile operators services for comprehensive reports and is a scalable, secure, high performance solution.

RM: From a technology perspective, what do companies need to consider when making use of 2D barcodes in their marketing?
OL: It is important that the QR code points to pages and content optimized for mobile. It is also important to make sure that the code is easy to read and there is adequate lighting to easily scan the codes.

RM: Is any one person or company taking the lead on educating consumers about 2D barcodes?
OL: Things are improving in the U.S., as phones continue to advance. Almost all of the big 2D barcode solution players are taking actions to educate the market. 3GVision regularly publishes information on QR codes and their implementations in advertising and marketing in blogs and news portals. We also take part in panel discussions on the subject. In general it is important for marketers and advertisers to offer an easy solution to download the reader and provide exclusive content in QR campaigns. We are also seeing mobile operators entering while GSMA and OMA are taking care of standardization of the barcode technology

RM: Most mobile phone manufacturers selling into the U.S. market do not pre-load a barcode reader in their handsets, do you see this changing anytime soon?
OL: This is correct. We are not sure this will change. Today, more and more people are used to downloading applications. On the other hand, with the involvement of mobile operators, they might push the pre-loading of barcode readers on their devices.

RM: Who is the main competitor to your business? How are you staying ahead?
OL: Scanbuy. We are staying ahead technology wise, supporting new devices and platforms all the time. We constantly improve our technology to have the fastest most accurate barcode reading. Market wise, we have most experience in pre-loading and working with mobile operators, large brands and publishers and handset vendors.

RM: Thank you Ofer.

About 3GVision
Since 2002, 3GVision has embedded over 120 million mobile phones with its 1D/2D barcode readers for global tier-1 mobile operators like Telstra, France Telecom and NTT Docomo, mobile handset manufacturers including Nokia, Samsung, LG, Sony Ericsson, and Motorola; and most Japanese vendors including Sharp, NEC, Kyocera and Toshiba. Moreover, 3GVision is the ‘de facto’ industry standard in Japan – the world’s first fully developed mobile barcode market.

3GVision’s i-nigma, the industry’s most comprehensive end-to-end 2D barcode solution, incorporates a highly intuitive and simple code-creation, campaign management and advanced metrics reporting platform, to increase revenue opportunities for mobile operators and media & marketing companies. The i-nigma telco-grade solution offers a fast and easy way for offline media and advertising to connect to the online world and also facilitates efficient business operations.

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