8.22.2011

American Airlines uses Direct Mail Mobile Barcode

Is American Airlines conducting a 2D barcode-based A/B split test before our very eyes?

Recently, I received the direct mail package below and on the back panel was a large QR Code, nothing more, nothing less (i.e., no code instructions or description, no text/short code or URL address, no call-to-action or incentive to scan). When I scanned the code, I was brought to a web page (non-mobile) that promoted the redemption of air miles, as well as the company's travel Hot Spots for July, August, September and October. (Question: Why is information for July being shown on the web page, aren't web pages suppose to be dynamic to the point that dated product/sales information can be deleted?)


When I tried to touch and select a listed Hot Spot destination, nothing happened, no additional information was provided. Question for the American Airlines marketing team, how is a customer supposed to learn more about a destination and know which itinerary to purchase without additional information? It seems to me that the website should offer that functionality, that information, at a minimum. Beyond that, there was no other experience to experience on the website worth mentioning.


With all of that aside, my bigger thought/question is about the direct mail package in and of itself. Did American Airlines take their use of direct mail 2D codes seriously enough to conduct an A/B split test, as most any traditional direct mail campaign would undergo? For example, did I get the "A" package with no information or copy associated with the code, versus the "B" package that had information or copy associated with the code? Was the "A" package's code scan resolve (i.e., landing page) different than the "B" package's code scan resolve? Pick a variable, any variable, was it tested in relation to the use of codes?

As with most of the campaigns that I review, I try to find the value, meaning, benefit, relevance that's being offered/delivered to the consumer by the advertiser via the 2D barcode but, with this campaign, I wanted to focus on the idea of testing, experimentation and research. From a best practice perspective, I advocate the idea of testing codes and code related variables, all as a matter of learning what works, what doesn't work and why, so that the next 2D campaign can be that much more effective and efficient.

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