3.29.2011

2D Barcodes and the First Screen

It's no longer a question or a prediction: Smartphone shipments have finally surpassed personal computer shipments, and the trend is most definitely expected to continue. What's also less of a question or a prediction is that more people use their mobile phone, smartphone or feature phone, for tasks other than making a phone call. So, what does this mean for companies going forward?

First, it means that the mobile phone is fast becoming the first screen by which consumers will view the Internet and everything that comes along with it (i.e., corporate websites, product information, product reviews, advertisements, video and audio files, social networking sites, location maps, email, email attachments, apps, etc., etc.). Second, companies, whether they advertise on the Internet or not, need to be aware of this trend and what it means with respect to making a good/respectful first impression and delivering a worthwhile user/customer experience. Companies will no longer be able to force a desktop version of their website and/or content onto the mobile platform and expect users/consumers to react and interact in the same manner, because there is a vast difference between how the Internet performs on the desktop or mobile platform.

Because the use of 2D barcode-based campaigns rely on the use of mobile devices, companies that choose to make use of the technology will need to understand the idea and nuances of the first screen sooner than later, from both a technology and marketing perspective, or they stand the very real chance of alienating their prospective and/or existing customer base. And, if that's not enough, the ROI on the 2D-based campaign will most likely prove negative.

It's easy to understand why companies have been slow to accept mobile, because there is a monetary, talent and resource expense involved, but for how long does a company present itself as being so out of touch with what the market demands and/or expects? Even if a company wishes to show itself as being forward thinking and innovative by making use of 2D, how great will this impression be if the company only gets half the equation correct (i.e., the print advertisement) but fails on the other half (i.e., the mobile content linked to the print ad)?

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