2D Barcode Study by Nellymoser

Mobile technology company, Nellymoser, recently completed a study of how the nation's leading monthly magazines are using 2D barcodes or, as they refer to them, mobile action codes.

The company analyzed the 2D barcodes used and mobile content delivered by the top 100 U.S. magazines by circulation from September to November 2010. In total, 57 titles were reviewed, which consisted of 146 issues. Of the 146 issues, 71 of them had at least one 2D barcode.

Here are the major findings:
  • 2D barcodes are used more by advertisers (59%) versus editorial (41.5%).
  • Top three uses of 2D barcodes: video content (51.6% ), micro site (23.1%), "enter to win” sweepstakes (16.6%).
  • Type of barcode used: Microsoft Tag (81.6%), QR Code (13.6%), JAGTAG (3.0%).
  • 2D barcode placement on page: lower left hand quadrant (41%), lower right hand quadrant (39%), upper left hand quadrant (5%), upper right hand quadrant (11%).
  • Instructions included with the barcode (86.6%).
In comparing the findings of the study with the analysis done on this blog, by and large, nothing comes as much of a surprise. I do, however, question the numbers for "type of barcode used." Of the campaigns that I gave reviewed, it seems as though QR Codes are the most popular. By nature of the fact that Allure magazine featured 36 Microsoft Tags in just one of their product giveaway issues, I wonder if this should be counted as one occurrence versus 36 individual occurrences and, if so, what does the 81.6% start to look like then? Another issue in regard to "type of code" is whether or not it makes sense to break out the QR Code component to reflect providers (i.e., ScanLife, SPARQCode, TAPPINN, self-generated, etc.), or is that of little interest or importance to most?

I am curious to know how Nellymoser defined the term "instructions." To know that some companies sum up instructions in as few as two words (e.g., Snap It, Click It, Scan It), and others provide a more thorough explanation, I have a feeling the 86.6% would drop considerably if only detailed and truly helpful instructions were counted.

Nellymoser plans to continue conducting this research on a quarterly basis, and whether or not they start to include channels other than magazines is not known. To view the entire 3Q study click here.


  1. Thanks for sharing, Roger. This is a great study, although I don't know if I agree completely that codes like this are the new "call-to-action." I think they're more like the new connector. I believe their true power is being able to connect the offline with the online, taking a static, 1-way push message and making it an interactive, 2-way communication channel. Outside of print, on place-based screens for instance, I think they could provide another way to deliver targeted information that supplements the original message. Which is kinda the big problem, right? Often times, brands are not creating/using/don't have the appropriate content to supplement the original content (from which the code originate) to the point where it drives the consumer deeper into the brand experience and further down the funnel. Again, thanks for sharing.

  2. I actually created the phrase "21st Century Call To Action" for the report. In my discussions with advertisers, they want a way to ask the potential customer to do something. It could be "Call Now" or "Buy Now." But, in the 21st Century, the call to action is to "Engage With Me Now".

    Roger Matus