10.28.2011

Meredith Xcelerated Marketing uses Microsoft Tag

The other day, Meredith Xcelerated Marketing (MXM) launched a full-page advertisement in The New York Times and featured in the advertisement is a customized Microsoft Tag. If you cannot make out the copy in the advertisement know that it is essentially a self-promotional corporate piece.

First, let's look at the Microsoft Tag itself. As you can see in the image below, MXM choose to develop a customized Tag with the name of the company displayed within the code. Three questions for the marketers at MXM, 1) what's the objective of customizing, 2) why not insert the company logo as opposed to plain text, which is difficult to read and visually unappealing and 3) why a Microsoft Tag versus a QR Code, which many of us know are more widely seen and used?

From a pure branding perspective, when I see customized codes like this one, I ask myself, why doesn't the advertiser put as much time and energy into the development of the custom code as it does with the placement of a standard logo in or on other mediums?

Second, the copy next to the Tag provides no instruction and/or description in relation to the Tag, not even a URL address to locate and download the Tag reader app. So, I guess the company just wants to work with early adopters, those who are in the know and for whom things don't need to be explained. Was this segmentation done on purpose?

Third, the call-to-action, "Want to know more? Contact keith.sedlak@meredith.com. And see our work in action, in real time at meredithxceleratedmarketing.com or snap the MS tag." couldn't be any simpler, but is this really all that alluring? And, this is a creative agency talking. Perhaps the early adopters know what "MS tag" refers to, but what about everyone else? And, why is the term "snap" used as there is no snapping that I am aware of when it comes to scanning 2D barcodes? (This is also a perfect example of how scanning a code saves time and effort versus entering in a URL. To get to the webpage via the Tag takes two taps on my mobile phone. To get to the webpage via the entering of text takes 33 taps.)

Enough with the Tag and the copy, now let's focus on the scan itself. When I scanned the Tag, I was brought to the company's website, which appears to be built for either desktop or mobile use and viewing. The website is extremely simplified and works on a mobile device, but not as well as a pure mobile site. For example, when you link to the site, all you see are rotating images at the top of the page, and it's not until you flick the screen down do you see the written content. So, here again, from a digital agency I find this surprising. Nothing wrong with keeping things simple but, if you intend to reach a mobile audience, why not provide them with a pure mobile website/experience?

With respect to the website content, I read through it, looked at the client names and client work samples and thought to myself, how or why is this agency any different than the rest? What makes MXM so great or so valuable to have as an agency/partner? What incentive or motivation am I being given to learn more about the company? How or where do I view the company's "work in action, in real time," as I have failed to find it or see it on the website, unless the few static images that are shown are supposed to be it.

All of these questions should be answered via the advertisement, the code experience and/or the deliverables found on the website. Beyond this, my greatest question is, how does MXM plan or intend to generate sales leads from this advertisement, because, last I checked, lead generation was a major component/need of B2B marketing? Is business so great MXM doesn't need to fill the pipeline? With 2D technology it is so easy to deliver something of value in lieu of capturing an email address or prospect contact information, but few companies, if any, ever think along these lines. Most often, B2B companies offer something self-promotional via a 2D code and this leaves the prospective customer no further along in the process.

If Mr. Sedlak, the company's CMO, took the time to view the advertisement and interactive experience from a prospective customer's perspective I would be curious to know his thoughts. Often times, B2B companies, as well as B2C companies, create and develop advertising, 2D or traditional, from their own perspective and, as a result, not much is gained. When dealing with 2D it is imperative that advertisers view the code and its scan resolve content from the customer's perspective, from end to end, and to also ask, what's it it for them?

Lastly, I also believe B2B companies need to ask themselves, what's the goal or objective of using 2D technology in the first place and is it really all that necessary? Asking this type of question may remove the "we have to add a code at the last minute, because it's cool" factor, where the code leads to nothing and the 2D/mobile experience and brand image suffers as a result.     

2D Barcode Litmus Test: FAIL

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