QR Code? No. Microsoft Tag? No. JAGTAG? No. Try Google Goggles.
This advertisement from Buick is the first print campaign that I have seen to make use of Google Goggles. For those not familiar with Google's platform, Goggles primarily serves the same function as a 2D barcode (i.e., connects the print world with the digital world), at least in this application, but gets consumers there in a slightly different manner. Using image recognition/visual search, the Goggles app will scan the entire print ad and then, once properly detected, will connect the reader of the ad with the intended digital content. Because I am not a technologist, I cannot really comment on the technology versus most any 2D barcode (i.e., advantages vs. disadvantages), but from a marketing perspective, I can certainly say a word or two about the campaign.
First, I love the call to action copy that accompanies the Google Goggle's icon (Unlock This Ad's Interactive Features). This is the only time I have ever seen the word "interactive" used to describe what lies beyond the code and why anyone would want to scan it. Often times, it's "watch a video" or "download a coupon" or "for more information," none of which resonates as well or with the same meaning as "interactive."
Second, the scan instructions seem pretty clear (Photograph this entire ad with Google Goggles on Android or iPhone), but they are a little less clear with respect to helping consumers find the Goggles app. Yes, it's easy to see that this should work on both types of phones, but still, where does one find the app?
Third, I like the use of a Google Goggles icon. Should this start to show up more and more, consumers will readily understand its meaning and purpose. So for those who keep talking about and questioning the confusion between codes, reader apps, etc., be ready to add this to the mix. My hunch is that, in time, consumers will be able to recognize the major codes/icons on the market and know which reader app to use. So while the thought of confusion may be present today, over time, this will fade away.
Now the fun part, reviewing the digital content. After scanning the ad, the reader is brought to a mobile website. On the site, there is a video and buttons which link to the following: a photo gallery of the car being promoted, a product specs page, a local dealer locator and a form to request more information. There is also a link to the company's main website and social network pages. All of the button links are very useful, but the video chosen is lousy. It's 15 seconds of flashy images, and the quotes that are shown go by so quickly it kind of defeats the purpose.
So as with any other 2D campaign, where's the value? Yes, certain information is being given to the reader which is helpful, but if a reader is in the market for a new car and unless Buick wants to make the comparisons for him/her, the reader still has to go to a third party source to figure out which car offers the best value, features, options, etc. In my mind, nothing of true value is then being offered. Here's a new one for the auto industry...why not give a real and meaningful incentive for people to compare, shop and purchase? Why not throw in post-sale service package, or a upgrade in tires, or an upgrade in audio equipment, something, anything?
To go back to the paragraph above, where I mention the use of the word "interactive," in reality there is not much interaction going on here. Yes, a reader of the add can gain easy access to some information, but does this static copy and a 15-second video really get someone wanting to drive a car that is described as the "New Class in World Class"? Their words, not mine.
Lastly, could a QR Code, Microsoft Tag, JAGTAG or most any other type of 2D code been used in this campaign with the same effect? For the most part, yes.
2D Barcode Litmus Test: FAIL