11.10.2011

What's AT&T's Mobile Barcode Strategy?

Recently, I walked past an AT&T retail store here in New York City, and in the store's front window was a sign which read, "in the network, gifts have more to give" and next to the promotional copy was a graphical image of a holiday present made out of a QR Code with a bow on top (see second image below for a better view). A question or two, if I may, to the AT&T Mobile Marketing Solutions team, what the heck is going on there and who's calling the shots?

Several months ago, I wrote about AT&T's barcode product offering (articles here, here and here) and questioned the company's use of Data Matrix codes, as well as the "proprietary" code reader app they offer (AT&T does not view it as being proprietary, but it is) and now, I'm wondering, why the sudden switch from Data Matrix codes to a QR Code in your own advertising? Has the marketing team finally found religion (i.e., coming to the realization that QR Codes far out pace Data Matrix codes in use and acceptance here in the U.S.)? Perhaps, but I'm not all too sure, as the company's strategic approach to the 2D barcode market just baffles me. Here's more.


When I Google "AT&T mobile marketing" I come to this web page, which links to nothing more than a product/solution video. When I go to AT&T's main website (att.com) and search for "barcodes" I find a different web page. And, when I search for the company's Create-a-Code page, the product page which enables people to generate their own codes, I can't even find it unless I go through a press release that I know has a link to the page. Here's a question for our players at home, do you get the sense that AT&T Mobile Marketing Solutions has absolutely no idea as to what they are doing with respect to 2D barcodes? What's the strategy here, is there a strategy? Does the company want to stand by and use Data Matrix codes or don't they? Does the company want to offer code generation to the masses or don't they (i.e., making it easy to find the Create-a-Code platform)? If the company wants consumers to scan their codes, are they going to provide them with the tools and information to do so, or are they going to let consumers figure it out themselves (there were no instructions or information pertaining to the QR Code on the store front window)?

Am I being too harsh? Sorry, I don't mean to offend, but I just find it amazing that this is what goes on inside a major brand, a leading global enterprise. I would love to know how AT&T's charter barcode program went, which I believe should be finished by now. How many charter clients stayed on and continue to use the platform? How many code reader app downloads have there been? What's scan traffic been like? Are there any use cases to review?

I suppose my reaction to seeing AT&T's store front window really has less to do with 2D barcodes per se, and more to do with the questioning of a company's strategic marketing direction, objectives and/or product offering. 

Lastly, for those who may be curious. the QR Code resolved to a donation form, as the "gifts have more to give" campaign is a holiday fund raising for local charities.

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