Digiday Mobile Conference - Recap and Questions

Last week, Digiday hosted a conference in New York, which focused on "the potential and the pitfalls of mobile marketing and asks whether the third screen will take center stage or be relegated to mini-web status and limited to mini-web budgets." One of the conference's sessions debated the topic of mobile barcodes and, on the session's panel, were Bill McQuain (Director of Business Development, Microsoft Tag) and Abbe Cherkaoui (General Manager, Media, GoldSpot Media). While it seems as though a lot was covered during the session (I did not attend, but have read excerpts), there are a couple of items that I wanted to question and comment on.

First, the issue of, which barcode scanner app works with which code, came up and Mr. McQuain was quoted as saying, "...there are more than 200 different code readers available, making the market fragmented." In my opinion, the market is only fragmented by the type of 2D barcodes that are on the market (e.g., QR Code, Microsoft Tag, Data Matrix, etc.), not by the number of reader apps. And, for those who wish to claim that there are all too many code readers on the market and consumers get confused by them, all that needs to be done is for advertisers to disclose the name of the code type used in their advertisement or promotional piece, and to offer the name and/or location of a reliable and credible code reader app to download and make use of. What can be more difficult? Also, if an advertiser believes that the field of code reader apps is too difficult for consumers to navigate, why not consider the private labeling of an app?  

Second, as Mr. McQuain discussed the value that is delivered, or should be delivered, in a 2D campaign, he cited Allure magazine's annual "giveaway" issue, where about 35 Microsoft Tags were used throughout the publication. Question to Mr. McQuain and others at Microsoft Tag, when will you stop using the Allure "giveaway" campaign as the only campaign to reference scan numbers? Okay, over 400,000 scans took place, great, but how many readers of the magazine actually scanned the codes, how many more magazines were sold or subscribed to due to the use of Tags, how much product was sold by advertisers post campaign, how much web traffic was driven as a result of Tags, how did the Tags affect social media and/or social sharing of the campaign, over what time period were the scans made, etc.? These are the questions we would really like to know the answers to, not just that X number of scans took place. Besides, there must be other high profile Tag campaigns to talk about from a case study perspective. Yes, no, maybe? 

The above aside, it seems as though Mr. McQuain and Ms. Cherkaoui were both very much behind 2D barcode best practices in that they urged audience members to make certain that value was being delivered via the 2D experience, a strong and relevant call-to-action was being used, the target audience's use of mobile should be well understood and consumers need to know what to expect, or where they will be linked to, once a code is scanned.

If you attended the event, your first-hand comments are welcomed.


  1. Hey Roger,

    Thanks for giving us some highlights from the event. I think an issue with the QR space having over 200 QR readers is that it can confuse the entire 2D barcode space. Given, if a user wants to scan a Tag they need to download a reader, but they don't have to potentially download a new reader with every Tag they see.

    The bigger risk in my mind is that 2D barcodes that look just like open QR, but are in fact proprietary cause broken experiences for consumers who don't understand that their reader is the issue, not 2D barcodes in general.

    Once there is more consolidation in this space, which will likely be around the platforms and not the format, adoption will catch on even more quickly.

    Nick Martin
    Online Community Manager
    Microsoft Tag

  2. Nick:

    You are right, proprietary QR Codes do pose a problem, but I rarely, if ever, see them out there. It seems as though the platforms have given up on them.

    With respect to reader app confusion, it all goes back to the advertiser. If the advertiser wants to help the novice then they will point them to a QR Code reader app that is well regarded and field tested (i.e, BeeTag, Neo-Reader, i-nigma). Just like Tag advertisers do with your product. The only thing is that advertisers for some reason don't want to make it seem as though they "endorse" a particular reader app and I believe they have to get over this.