The Value of Mobile Barcode First Impressions

The other day, in a local supermarket, I noticed cases of Budweiser and Bud Light beer that were all decked out for Super Bowl XLVI, as well as for consumer interaction with 2D barcodes featured on the packaging. What struck me the most while looking at these cases of beer was that the Budweiser case featured a QR Code and the Bud Light case featured a SnapTag. I know consumer product goods companies will often silo products with respect to development, management, marketing, advertising, etc., but was this a conscious decision between the two product groups to use two different interactive technologies, or just a coincidence?

When I scanned the Budweiser QR Code, I was brought to a page that had a message which read, "Rotate Your Device." I rotated my mobile phone and rotated and rotated, but nothing happened, so I opted to enter the URL into my desktop PC and came to a mobile landing page.

On the landing page, I was prompted for the beer's "born on" date, the date of its manufacture, as well as my birthday. Once the information was entered, I clicked the "Track Your Bud" button and nothing happened. Stymied again. I'm trying to think, what could have happened when I clicked the button? Would the next page tell me the life story of my bottle of beer? Would I care? With respect to the call-to-action/tag line on the beer case, "Great Times Are Waiting," my answer to that is, no they're not, but I am. I'm waiting for the landing page/interactive experience to work properly on either my mobile phone or the desktop. Next victim.

When I scanned the Bud Light SnapTag with the proprietary SnapTag app, I was brought to a page that asked for my birthday and the state that I live in. Once entered, I was then asked for my mobile phone number. Then a message appeared, which informed me that I was entered into the Super Bowl sweepstakes.

After receiving the sweepstakes entry message, I was left on the page with nothing else other than a Facebook page to link to, and that's only if I went ahead a logged into Facebook.

So, what do we have here when all is said and done? The Budweiser QR Code campaign did not work as most likely intended and the question can be asked, how many times is a consumer suppose to attempt to scan a code in order to view the scan resolve content? In my opinion, more than once is too many times. The Bud Light SnapTag campaign did allow me to enter the Super Bowl sweepstakes, but then what? Why doesn't Bud Light enable me to link to other product content and interact that much more with the brand?

In my mind, both of these campaigns point to the value and meaning of a first impression. In the future, if either of these companies offered the chance to interact via a 2D code, do you believe I would? Would you? My guess is probably not and for the simple reason, the first impression made by each of these brands was so lack luster. Coming from such marketing powerhouses as Budweiser and Bud Light, I would have thought a great deal more creativity and thoughtfulness would have gone into these campaigns. Shows you what I know. For each and every interaction between a consumer and a brand there exists an impression. First, second, tenth or more, each impression is just as important as the next and this importance cannot and should not be minimized, whether it's a traditional ad or a 2D-based ad.   

As an aside...the other day, I had a conversation with a gentleman in the print/barcode/image recognition  industry and, during the conversation, we started to speak about 2D technology and how the consumer market has and will react to it. The gentleman I was speaking with then went on to talk about two ongoing Super Bowl-based SnapTag campaigns (Bud Light, see above, and Coor's), and how these campaigns will spell the tipping point for mobile barcode use and acceptance by consumers. While I could understand what this gentleman was saying in regard to SnapTags being brand-friendly (i.e., the code can easily accommodate a corporate logo and look more pleasing versus other 2D formats), but if the underlying scan resolve content (i.e., first impression) is on par with what I experienced and mentioned above then I do not believe a tipping point will be anywhere in sight come Super Bowl or the weeks after. Without scan resolve content that is of meaning, value, relevance and benefit to a consumer it matters little how brand-friendly a code format may or may not be. With these two campaigns currently running and the Super Bowl just a couple of weeks away, time will tell soon enough.

2D Barcode Litmus Test: FAIL

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