12.09.2010

Collect N Share from MSKYNET

By now, it has almost become a standard or given. Look at the bottom section of a print advertisement and you will find a Facebook, Twitter and or YouTube logo icon, all which are used to promote the fact that the advertiser has a presence on these social media websites and in these social communities. But how well do these static logo icons really work to help a consumer 1) navigate and find the advertiser's official social media website and 2) get onto the site itself from viewing the printed advertisement. Not very. So, what's an advertiser to do?

What about taking the static social media website logo icons and redesigning them slightly to incorporate a 2D barcode? This way, when a consumer sees the logo icon in a print advertisement, on a billboard, point of sale sign, kiosk, etc., they can easily scan the 2D barcode with their smartphone and immediately link to the advertiser's social media site and community. Sounds clever, eh? Well MSKYNET, the company behind SPARQCode, has already figured this out and recently launched a new service called 'Collect N Share' which does just the above.



The idea behind 'Collect N Share' is to help local businesses connect with their customers via the major social media websites/communities, and to do so at no cost. All a business owner has to do is enter some basic information in the service's app and MSKYNET will generate the appropriate social media website logo icon with a SPARQCode already included. Then all the business owner has to do is print the revised logo icon and display it wherever they wish. A key feature/benefit of the service is that MSKYNET provides free analytics to the business owner as well.

As a marketer, I have always wondered why companies display social media icon logos in their advertisements without a URL address. How would I know that "facebook.com/adidasoriginals" is the URL for Adidas on Facebook or that "twitter.com/adidasrunning" is the URL for Adidas on Twitter? And these are for a major brand. What about a more local company, one that a consumer may not know how the company refers to itself on the social sites. 'Collect N Share' is a great idea, because it works to enhance the customer experience and make social communication between company and customer that much more seamless. Something tells me there will be knock-offs of this service, and companies bigger than a local Mom & Pop store will use it.

11 comments:

  1. The team at Sparqcode (I think they are dropping mSkynet) are a really smart group.

    While it's hard to fathom this kind of application competing against Facebook's Places (or Deals), it's a good attempt at trying to give smaller businesses some method of engaging at this level.

    That said, I do fear that Facebook and their location-based efforts (GPS driven) will be the winner here. QR needs to offer something different and distinguish itself as a value beyond the basics.

    Maybe I'm wrong (wouldn't be the first time), but, if someone is inclined to scan a QR-Like code, there's a good chance they have Facebook-Places already running and they will engage through their Facebook app and not bother with opening up a QR reader.

    I do applaud Sparqcode for doing this, it is clever, but, it's probably short-lived and an interim solution that won't really result in lasting use.

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  2. is there a revenue model for SPARQcode? If they give the code for free and give the analytics for free, how are they making any $?

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  3. from what I see, they used to offer 1000 scans free and now it's 200. probably be good to get confirmation from them?

    no idea what the price is after 200? no one publishes pricing do they?

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  4. While we do let people generate QR Codes for free, only simple analytics are free. If you're an individual or a really small business then our free plan (250 lifetime scans) will be plenty. If you're a larger organization, or you're interested in more detailed information, then you would have to sign up for one of our paid plans.

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  5. "If you're an individual or a really small business then our free plan (250 lifetime scans) will be plenty."

    That's not demonstrating a lot of confidence in QR being a viable business model, is it? In my LIFETIME, my personal business card will receive less than 250 scans? Even if I lived in a Yurt in the middle of the Yukon I hope I'd get more traffic than that.

    So, what's the price for more than 250?

    Why won't anyone print simple pricing models? Having to speak with someone and get quotes from every provider is truly discouraging. SMS gateways publish prices. Hosting companies publish prices. Really, unless something is "custom" there is public pricing. QR? Should be as basic as it gets:

    # of codes
    # of scans
    # of months

    What's the big secret?

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  6. A: Why the 2D providers are not more forthcoming with their pricing I haven't a clue. It seems as though when a client of most any 2D provider reaches a certain point the pricing becomes somewhat customized to the client/campaign.

    Regarding who comes out on top (i.e., Facebook Places or the likes of Collect N Share), too early to tell, but even so, why not have some competition, as this usually works in the consumer's favor. Question is, will other 2D providers get on board with such an offering.

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  7. Interesting Questions here.. I'm Jesse, from SPARQCode so I'll try my best to answer.

    1. To start, SPARQCodes will always have unlimited scans for free. So if you make one with our system they will always work.
    2. We only charge if you want to get analytics for them and other advanced features. We try to be pretty transparent on our pricing here and if it's confusing we'd like to help make it more clear: http://www.sparqcode.com/static/features#feature_matrix. Our pricing is based on scans / month. So you can have an unlimited number of SPARQCodes to generate and do with as you please. And if you go over your limit then you will only see the analytics up to the threshold that you paid for. In some ways, its analogous to a pre-pay mobile phone plan except we are nicer in the sense that your sparqcodes won't de-activate if you go over the limit. You only get the data up to that limit.
    3. It's true that when we first launched our beta the free lite accounts had free analytics for the first 1,000 scans for free. We are now out of Beta, and our user base has grown significantly and from our traffic patterns we know that 250 should be more than suffice for individuals and companies to test our system to see if it meets their needs. So the bottom line is you can create as many sparqcodes for free and they will always work. If you are interested in analytics or other things then we have pricing based on traffic. You only pay for what you willing to set aside and so you can budget yourself accordingly.
    4. For our Titan (Fortune 500) customers, our pricing models are totally different as they tie-in many other things, and they're traffic volumes are much higher (e.g. 6-7 figures / mo ) and so it's a custom based pricing mode.

    Hope this helps and please feel free to shoot me an email (jesse at sparqcode.com) if you have any further questions, or if we need to do a better job at clarifying things. We will soon be publishing some very interesting stats on QR Code usage and adoption.

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  8. I've been following this post and agree that the guys @ mSKYNET are very innovative and a terrific group.

    But, I've been a bit baffled by a number of companies who are rushing into services that add value to Facebook via QR and wonder whether this is really something people will spend time with? It seems to be time and attention consuming without much pay off? Maybe I'm just not a Facebook "fan."

    Today I was intrigued to see a very similar, though entirely competitive platform launching in a trial by GOOGLE in Portland, OR:

    http://googlemobile.blogspot.com/2010/12/cross-posted-and-excerpted-from-hotpot.html

    Sounds a lot like a QR with Facebook "Like" experience, but, done via GOOGLE and Near Field Communication, almost instantly.

    I always look at the End User experience first. Tapping your phone on a sticker vs. Open your QR Reader, scan, wait for resolve? Which will people prefer?

    It's a bit off topic, but, certainly related, so thought it was worth raising here.

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  9. contentAI: Thank you for the comment and the article link. I am not an expert on NFC, but understand its benefit, value and usefulness to both companies and consumers alike.

    To a certain degree, I believe there could be a number of different "technology-based" tactics a company can deploy to further the communication and interaction with consumers (i.e., 2D, NFC, etc.), it need not be a winner take all scenario that I read and hear so many people talk about, or at least in my opinion, I do not believe this needs to be the case. Your thoughts?

    At the end of the day, no matter which technology a company chooses to make use of, let them pick, they just need to be savvy enough to fully understand the technology before deploying and integrating it into a marketing campaign. Failure to do so will either slow overall adoption or allow the technology to fall by the weigh side altogether.

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  10. Jesse: Thank you for the clarification. Hopefully this answers some questions or concerns.

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  11. Roger -- To clarify, I am in complete agreement that we [do and] will live in a World of multiple formats and technologies, some of which accomplish the same, or very similar, thing. It's doubtful there will a single "winner" in any area. There doesn't need to be.

    Consumers are more savvy than most give them credit for. Younger demographics have no-fear of using different digital tools and bouncing between them at will.

    What I do question is whether there is lasting value for Users or retailers in using QR (or NFC, or anything else) for extending the LIKE functionality (or equivalents) to the real world? It seems to be a great deal of noise for very little signal.

    Perhaps part of my concern is that these kind of semi-engagements will drown out actual campaigns that use the same tools and are visually perceived by consumers as being identical.

    As a consumer, how do I differentiate between a QR that posts a LIKE on a retailer's FB Wall and one that enters me into a contest for a trip to Fiji?

    When every shop has a QR tag in the window - perhaps even an NFC sticker alongside it -- will I ignore all of them due to over-saturation?

    In some respects, I wish the cost-to-entry for these tools were higher. Google are giving away their NFC kits in Portland for no-cost (of course, I want to get one to tinker with). QR costs (or, the cost for analytics) has to compete against an awful lot of "free." So, over-saturation is a very real prospect.

    Turning advertising everywhere into the emotional equivalent of AdWords seems like it could backfire if you're not delivering massive numbers (pricing drops; margins shrink; why bother?).

    As before, mSKYNET are a great group and I recognize the need to provide this new feature. I'm just not a fan of LIKE in the real-world.

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