1.06.2011

Starz uses AT&T Mobile Barcode

Here's a new one...a 2D barcode from AT&T.

Cable station, Starz, is running a campaign to promote a new series called "Spartacus-Gods of the Arena." In the billboard advertisements that I have seen on New York City telephone booths there is a 2D barcode featured, which has been generated through AT&T. When the code is scanned, the reader is brought to a mobile website that offers the ability to view a short trailer, share on Facebook, follow on Twitter, or view more on You Tube. For those who may be interested in watching the series, I hope the series is not as boring as the mobile experience.


Other than showing a 1:30 minute trailer, what else could Starz have done to get people interested in the series? How about behind the scenes interviews or footage, or a sweepstakes to win a trip to Rome and see the Coliseum, or a link to information about how the gladiators fought and lived? Almost anything would be better and more meaningful than just a trailer. Yes, people may share and pass the trailer video on within their social network, but does Starz believe that alone will be enough to build excitement and buzz around the series? It's not as if Spartacus and the gladiator thing hasn't been done before.  

Now, in regard to the 2D barcode itself. I will give Starz credit for making the call to action ("View Trailer") so clear, but I wonder why the company decided to use an AT&T generated code. Not knowing that this was, in fact, a proprietary code from AT&T, I first tried to use other reader apps and the scans failed. Once the AT&T reader was installed the scan resolved just fine. 


Last year, AT&T came out with a new mobile code platform, called Mobile Barcode Services, which offers businesses and individuals a code generator, reader app, code management system and metrics reporting. While the offer and platform are very complete, what I don't fully understand is how the platform and, more specifically, how the codes are branded. Obviously this is a proprietary code, but unlike Microsoft, JAGTAG, SnapTag, etc., AT&T has chosen not to name the code and just refer to it as a mobile barcode. Does this make sense? Does this cause further confusion in the marketplace? Interesting questions, yes, but I digress, as the focus was meant to be on the Starz advertisement. (Stay tuned for a post about AT&T.) 

Let me finish by saying that entertainment companies need to push the creative envelope when it comes to marketing via 2D. A trailer is a trailer is a trailer. Think overall experience, value and what the consumer can take away.

2D Barcode Litmus Test: FAIL

5 comments:

  1. And what was the "call to action" before a barcode was used? A piece of paper posted on a wall with a url or telephone number no body used! The interactive experience with the poster creates a new form of marketing. I think it is great.

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  2. Anonymous: I understand what you are saying re: the "old fashion" call to action versus the new and yes, there is no comparison, but how far does a 1:30 minute trailer go these days when consumers are always looking and wanting more. A bit more could have been done to truly engage with the reader of the ad and make the experience a bit more remarkable. Seems to me the more you put in the more you get out.

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  3. What makes AT&T's indirect code confusing is that it's a Datamatrix code, which in most other instances is opensource and works on all the major code scanners.

    In fact, this barcode does read on other scan apps, but because the other apps are not linked to AT&T's lookup server the scan app does not know where to point the phone.

    It may have made more sense for AT&T to develop their own symbology, as there's nothing to indicate that this isn't a standard Datamatrix code.

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  4. Anonymous: You are right, it might have made more sense to go the proprietary route, but I just spoke with AT&T today and will post a follow-up which might explain their actions or business plan a bit more.

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  5. Having to scan the code with a particular program is the big problem here, creating confusion when it does not work. Someone has finally been educated about QR codes and they have installed an app and they are actually trying it out, risking looking dorky to their friends, but if another reader can even read this code it just shows a long number and does not lead to the promised content. Now the new user has been taught that those silly codes don't work and their friends have seen it too and will never try scanning a code. Not only does this sabotage any ad campaign using these proprietary codes, it also negatively impacts every campaign using standard QR codes.

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