Microsoft Tags in Allure Magazine

The August issue of Allure magazine is filled with 36 Microsoft Tags. The Tags are being used by the magazine to giveaway over 32,000 products, which are valued at $750,000.

Each year, the magazine holds its "Free Stuff" promotion and, this year, they have decided to use 2D barcode technology as the way by which readers can enter into any one of the 159 product giveaways. From one page to the next, readers will find the Tags along side products, and there is one page in the front half of the magazine which fully explains the Tags (i.e., how to scan them and how and where to download a Tag reader app).

As mentioned in a comment on yesterday's post about Clinique's QR code ad in Vogue, and now with this Allure campaign, one wonders if companies are focusing on women to be the early adopters of 2D barcode technology. And what's also interesting is that a publisher is behind this use of Tags, not a specific product company. This makes the fourth or fifth magazine that I have found to use 2D technology more from an editorial perspective than a pure product advertisement perspective.

Lastly, my question to Allure is, why Tags? Why not use any other 2D barcode. Stay tuned, as I try to contact the company.


  1. AnonymousJuly 23, 2010

    It seems that MICROSOFT are directly behind much of this; my guess is that they contributed some value more than Tags? Look at the other major MICROSOFT TAG campaigns that have come out recently, they have to be coining-in on these as a way to get more MT Readers downloaded and into circulation, before they are forgotten.

    MICROSOFT have the money to contribute to these types of campaigns and establish MICROSOFT TAGS in the consumer's eye as "standard."

    Consumer's don't care about the technology (at all), they go where they get value. MICROSOFT are brilliantly giving them value. They can manipulate consumer perception in this space.

    And, the upside of MS Tags is that you don't need to try out 2-3 QR Tag Readers to get one to work. They work first time. Consumers like that.

    It would be ironic if MS Tags became the de facto standard in the States. MICROSOFT could win (it's been awhile since they had a win)?

    I know all the tech-logic in the World points to QR, but, if MICROSOFT run a few more campaigns like the ALLURE campaign, then, when every "active mobile user who engages with Tags" has MS Tag reader on board. . .who knows...but, at some point, we may stop questioning "why did they use Microsoft Tags?" at the end of each blog post.

  2. Thank you again for commenting. While I had not thought that pay-to-play might be behind campaigns such as this, it certainly would not be the first time.

    Yes, you are right about the use of reader apps (Tag vs. QR), and it would be interesting to see how far Microsoft can get in the eyes of consumers, as well as brands.

    To your comment, "...stop questioning why did they use Microsoft Tags", please know that I ask this question from a strategic perspective. Any company looking to run a 2D barcode campaign should be asking what technology should they use, so my interest is in understanding the thought process behind this, not necessarily that the company went with Tags or anything else. I don't imagine that companies are throwing a dart at a board and just randomly choosing.

    Lastly, I would be very interested in speaking with you offline, as you seem to have a keen perspective on all of this. Please email me if you wish to speak further: roger (at) 2dbarcodestrategy dot com. Thank you.

  3. AnonymousJuly 23, 2010

    You wrote:

    "Any company looking to run a 2D barcode campaign should be asking what technology should they use..."

    Agreed, in theory. But, at this stage of the game (when it's a tiny percentage of Users opting-in), it's about gaining traction in the market and establishing "standards."

    With this type of campaign, it's clear that MICROSOFT are not bowing down to QR. They are aggressively looking to get their Reader on as many phones as possible and aiming for women first -- Also, not with Carrier/Manufacturer deals, buy via Consumers.

    It's the kind of thing I'd expect from Google or Apple, not Microsoft. So, well-played to them.

    Sometimes the "thinking that goes into a campaign" decision is just about money. That's why it seems that Microsoft must be contributing something? Maybe they are doing some guaranteed ad-buy that is technically unrelated, but, guarantees ALLURE more ad dollars (in a bad print market)? Maybe it's directly related (ALLURE gets .10 cents for every launch)?...It's not likely we'll ever know.

    As inconceivable it is that any Brand would opt for a very limiting, proprietary format (in an already small market), the point is that MICROSOFT could take a significant market share here and then we would all cease to question the logic of someone using them.

    Underlying all this is the reality that all the Designer QR work and standardization in the world can't compete with millions of women getting comfortable with Microsoft Tags -- And, if Microsoft Tag campaigns offer "real value" to a User, then, that's far better than most of the pretty QR campaigns that are more about the Tag than about the Content and value.

    Basically, people will perceive Microsoft Tags as being synonymous with offering tangible value. That's a lot harder to compete with than "how's your technology holding up?"

    Will give you a shout early next week.

  4. Thank you again for the comments...looking forward to speaking with you.

  5. AnonymousJuly 27, 2010

    Microsoft Tag offers real-time unique device ID, other 2D barcodes do not.

    This program needs device ID to work.

  6. Noting more Microsoft Tag news today re WHOLE FOODS campaign: http://tinyurl.com/2957xvs

    The Microsoft Tags are targeting women (with smart phones; who read Allure, shop at Whole Foods, etc.) seems spot on.

    The question is, can Microsoft Tag "buy their way" into the Mainstream? While everyone else waits for guys to download QR Tag Readers, are women downloading Microsoft Reader and getting great mobile offerings?