Nellymoser 2D Barcode Trend Report...A Few Questions

Nellymoser just released their latest Action Code Usage Study, and I have a couple of observations, questions and comments.

First and foremost, the study indicates 300 percent growth in 2D barcode use since January 2011. Great! Care to give us the numbers from which the 300 percent is based on? Even better, care to give us the number of scans from month-to-month, quarter-to-quarter? As mentioned in a recent post, it's one thing to provide hard numbers, it's another to site percentages and percentage growth without base numbers.

Second, the report mentions how many top U.S. magazines the codes are in and the number of codes that have been placed in them, etc., but what the report does not mention is how all of this, as well as scan rates, relates to the circulation rates of the magazines themselves. If we are talking about magazines which have circulation rates in the million reader range, how many readers are really noticing the codes and making use of them? What's the code penetration/activation/experience rate look like, 0.1 percent or 10 percent?

Third, Nellymoser breaks down 2D barcodes by use and it is interesting to note that half of the codes that are placed scan to videos and data capture (sweeps/opt-ins) (50%), and only about 5% of codes are used for coupons. This tells me that companies are more interested in showing a product commercial or self promotional corporate video than providing a real value-based purchase incentive (i.e., coupon) to the consumer. Also, it would be interesting to know where or what the videos lead to. Meaning, at the end of the video, does the consumer have the ability to easily take action (i.e., make a product purchase, share with a friend, learn more, find a retailer, etc.)? Also, how many of these videos are optimized for mobile viewing? Are companies starting to get that right?

I want to see the 2D industry continue to grow and develop just like Nellymoser and others in the space, but short of trend reports like this, what we all need to see and hear are real case studies from the brands making use of the codes. Without hearing from the brands themselves we are all only getting half of the equation, which, in reality, means very little.


  1. AnonymousMay 27, 2011

    NellyMoser, like Scanlife, have been around for awhile and are managed by very smart people.

    The fact that these companies are resorting to smoke-and-mirrors reports that offer no substance indicates to me that the truth is something that needs to be hidden: It is likely that no one is scanning all of these codes.

    I was at a conference earlier this week where one panelist from Nokia who focuses on user interface and user behaviour spoke to one reason that people don't scan QR codes: "They don't want to be perceived, in public, as being "cheap" and shopping for deals." Because the physical action of scanning is so unnatural, it makes people self conscious."

    I'd like to hear more reports like that that indicate where problems may reside (one's I'd never thought of) and then find ways to address them. Did anyone ever think about presenting scanning QR codes as a fun activity rather than a process?

  2. AnonymousMay 27, 2011

    Some reports are more for publicity instead of for scrutiny, and digital publication nowadays are for quantity, spread, and loudness rather than quality and analysis. Guess we'd have to live with that.

    You've been checking and reviewing many QR deployments out there and have pointed many delivered without a proper enclosure context or messaging to stimulate the scan. And even worse, many of them landed in non-mobile-optimized space!

    I must say that many of the QR enthusiastic early birds have actually spoiled the whole QR landscape. Just think of how many 1st time QR user (person who took the effort to download a QR reader to try out) got frustrated and stayed away from QR code from then on, and perhaps also "shared" the disappoints.

    High quality QR deployments do exist, but not in quantity. Low quality QR deployments EXIST, and in relatively large quantity, simply because they can get by easily with DIY generated QR code slapped in some convenient visual context, e.g. simply replacing the spot of the good old web site URL string. Sure the mysterious QR code may boost the employer's pride (and the marketing manager's career?) but it'd just stay mysterious to their target viewers, not to mention how many of them are QR-enabled.

    I wonder if having a traditional URL wrapped around with proper expectation-building context/message would get better exposure than the QR code badly delivered, add on the fact that unknown percentage of mobile phone users are QR-enabled.

    Every QR code brought into life must have a well thought-out delivery strategy and planning behind it. This means that so-called "QR business" cannot be simply the code generation, hosting, and tracking. Rather, the core of a QR delivery lies in the landing target, e.g. in the simplest form, a mobile-optimized page. With this perspective, QR code becomes a "nice to have" element, but not all that crucial, although it does have its niche trendy value at this point of time.