Last week, Mobile Marketer hosted a Mobile Marketing Summit and one of the sessions, which was paneled by CEOs from various companies in the mobile space, discussed the topic "What Needs to Happen to Accelerate Mobile Advertising and Marketing Deployment During the Holidays." During the session, the topic of mobile barcodes came up and was heatedly debated by panelists Greg Schmitzer (CEO, Mad Mobile), Nicole Skogg (CEO, SpyderLynk), Oren Michels (CEO, Mashery), Mike Wehrs (CEO, Scanbuy), Amielle Lake (CEO, Tagga Media) and Ken Harlan (CEO, MobileFuse).
In reading the session's highlights, the one comment that I would like to focus on came from Nicole Skogg of SpyderLynk, the company behind the proprietary barcode format called SnapTag. Ms. Skogg said, "One of the issues around bar codes is that there are a lot of competing standards, which is adding to the confusion in the marketplace." And continues by saying, "I think we will end up with one kind of bar code that means take me to a Web site and others that have some other kind of functionality behind them.” To Ms. Skogg, and others that see the industry from her perspective, I disagree.
First, I do not believe the term "competing standards" accurately represents the mobile barcode industry. In my mind, there are a number of competing code formats or types, but there is no real standard or one standard. QR Codes differ from Data Matrix Codes, which differ from Microsoft Tags, which differ from SnapTags, which differ from JAGTAGs, etc. Yes, they all compete, but there is no real or one standard in the industry.
Second, I do not believe there is as much confusion in the marketplace (i.e., among consumers), as Ms. Skoggs and others believe is present and, even if there was, it is easy to correct the situation. From my perspective, and from what others write and report on as well, it appears as though QR Codes are the most widely used codes in the U.S. marketplace and by quite some distance. Also, if advertisers simply identified the code that was featured in their ad then the thought, or worry, of confusion would go right out the window (e.g., "Scan the QR Code to receive a $20 discount on your next purchase." "Scan this Microsoft Tag, etc."). Also, if confusion was a worry, why or how does Ms. Skogg explain her standing behind a product like SnapTag, which is not as far along as QR Codes with respect to use and adoption by advertisers?
Third, Ms. Skoggs talks about multiple codes in the marketplace and how confusing they are but, how much more confusing would it get if there was one code for this type of function/action and another code for that type of function/action? If I understand Ms. Skoggs correctly, which I believe I do, that would be insane and stop the use and adoption of mobile barcodes dead in their tracks. From what I can tell, there is no need for specialized codes. Am I missing something?
I read these comments from a CEO in the industry and I just wonder. What is her company's game plan? What are their goals and objectives as a provider, a proprietary one at that? What does she see when a company like JAGTAG, which offers a very similar type of code, gets acquired?
Although these are the only comments that I wanted to focus on, it's worth mentioning that the panel seemed to have touched on the key factors and best practices which need to be in place to ensure the successful use of barcodes, and mobile, during the holiday shopping season. Just hope the audience was listening.