Okay, here's the plan, let's buy a full-page, four-color ad in a national consumer magazine, place a 2D barcode in the ad and then have the barcode resolve to a promotional video that doesn't work. Or, have the ad's call-to-action be of little or no interest to the magazine's audience. Or, don't provide enough information for readers of the ad to understand how to make use of the barcode. Or, don't optimize the landing page that the barcode is linked to for mobile use. Take your pick. In any one of these situations, we would be wasting marketing dollars, as it relates to the 2D ad, and there would be little hope of realizing a positive ROI.
Of course I'm making fun of what it might be like to purposely waste marketing dollars, but the sad truth is that companies, and some major ones at that, are actually doing so when they develop a 2D barcode-based print ad and fail to execute it properly from a strategic, tactical and creative perspective. Earlier in the week, I wrote about a 2D magazine ad that Macy's developed and how the video that was linked to the barcode did not work, because the video was not ready for public viewing in time for when the magazine hit the newsstand. Not to pick on Macy's, because there are certainly other examples that I can cite, but how wasteful. How does the Macy's creative director or CMO respond to senior management for something like that?
Unfortunately, when situations like the one with Macy's happens, it reflects poorly on the barcode itself and the technology behind it, and slightly less so on the brand. The next time Macy's chooses to run a 2D ad, if at all, consumers will probably read the ad, but may be skeptical of the code and not want to bother scanning it. Lesson to be learned, first impressions go a long way in the eye and mind of a consumer.
As marketers, we need to view 2D ads in the same light as any other medium by which a message is communicated to the prospect or the client. A 2D print ad is no different than an email, a direct mail letter, a banner ad, a landing page, a telemarketing script, a radio script, television commercial, promotional event, etc. The moving parts might be a bit different but, in reality, a 2D ad still needs to be thoroughly researched and planned ahead of time with respect to creative, call-to-action, relevance, value, benefit, experience and incentive. In addition, and maybe this is where 2D ads are different, marketers must consider how they will educate and instruct consumers on what a barcode is and how it can be scanned, because, after all, the majority of U.S. consumers still have never seen or made use of 2D technology.
My last thought on this is let's, as marketers, not be lazy when it comes to formulating and executing 2D campaigns and strategy, because then the technology may never get the chance it deserves.