8.14.2012

PRINT2D From Start to Finish - Part II

Yesterday, I wrote about Santa Monica-based mobile agency PRINT2D and what I described as the most comprehensive platform and product offering currently available in the print to mobile technology space. Today, I follow-up with Part II in a five-part series taking a closer look at this company. In contrast with yesterday's article, which focused on products and services, today, I'll explore how PRINT2D thinks about print to mobile and how that thinking has influenced the platform and tools they provide.

PRINT2D makes no secret of their reason for existence. Their website exclaims, "PRINT2D was created as a response to current 2D bar code advertising platforms and bar code management services which place too much emphasis on the code and little, if any, on the mobile experience." PRINT2D's response has certainly been well thought out, not to mention loud and clear - and it's a message that is starting to resonate throughout the mobile advertising community.

The Challenge is not the Code, It's the Mobile Experience 
As noted in countless case-studies I have posted in the past, the first wave of advertisers using 2D bar codes were generally not very well received, because most of them did not give enough consideration to the mobile experience. Now, advertisers who have first-hand knowledge of bar code management platforms are beginning to see the bar code advertising landscape in a new light.

At this point, most mobile consumers and advertisers are on board with the idea that generating a code is not the challenge, it's creating a usable and compelling mobile experience. As it turns out tracking that user experience, not the code, is where advertisers get the information they need to understand a campaign in its entirety. Philip Warbasse explains,"advertisers that rely on data from bar code management platforms are getting things like scan rate, time of scan and type of phone a user is on. While those measurements may sound meaningful, we refer to them as 'passive' or 'thin', because they tell us nothing about user experience."

A Direct Path to Mobile Content Offers Huge Advantages 
The methods print to mobile technology companies use to gather statistical data has always fascinated me. Companies offering bar code tracking stake their entire existence on being able to deliver measurements from each code scanned to their clients. But, is how they obtain that data potentially more harmful than helpful? PRINT2D makes a very compelling argument as to why a direct path to mobile content from a 2D bar code is the best approach. But, first, we have to understand the difference between direct and indirect.

A direct path to mobile content means the code delivers users directly to the server that the content is stored on, without redirecting them through name servers, look-up servers or collection servers of any kind. An indirect path means users will be passed on to no less than three servers, after scanning the code, before they reach their final destination. According to Warbasse,"Using an indirect path to content in order to collect data only creates additional fail points in a campaign, not to mention an increase in latency. Bar code management companies that don't measure user experience have no choice but to use indirect paths to content, in order to collect the data which they sell and, unfortunately, that data cannot tell advertisers what they really need to know about their mobile campaigns."


The PRINT2D Difference - An Analogy
The developers at PRINT2D look at a QR Code like a doorway to a store. When a person scans a code, advertisers using bar code management platforms will be able to see that someone has effectively "entered" their store, at a certain time of day, on a certain type of phone. What they won't be able to see is:
1.) How long that person stayed,
2.) What they looked at and for how long,
3.) If they liked it,
4.) If they shared it,
5.) If those people it was shared with came back through, and,
6.) Any organic searches or link backs to the mobile campaign.

These measurements represent the user experience and it is valuable to companies like HBO who partnered early on with Warbasse Design to measure the time individual users spent on their mobile campaign to promote the third season of True Blood.

It begins to make sense that once someone is on a mobile site, even after they scan a code, they don't share the code, they share the actual site or its individual pages - in the form of a URL. This is precisely why PRINT2D measures the user experience and not just the code.

The Life-cycle of Traditional Media and its Role in Tracking Response 
PRINT2D looks at the big picture, recognizing how different advertising mediums can effect each other. Consider the role traditional advertising plays in a successful integrated media campaign. All traditional media has a life-cycle. A newspaper is relevant for a day, while a magazine may remain relevant for an average of twenty-one days. Advertisers who only track the code will naturally see a reduction in scan rates as the vehicle the bar code is placed in becomes less relevant - over time. This, however, is in stark contrast to the possibility that the campaign could be thriving online, due to likes, shares and other forms of social awareness which advertisers will be unaware of if tracking the scan rate alone.

Out of New Thinking Comes New Products and Services 
Lastly, PRINT2D's desire to be as comprehensive as possible has created a number of new and unique service offerings, in the 2D bar code channel, which you won't find anywhere else. Things like Bar Code ParkingTM, which addresses how to handle a 2D bar code campaign once the promotion has ended. Or, mobile detection and media streaming which delivers crystal clear streaming content, in the form of audio and video, to a variety of handheld devices. PRINT2D even offers certification programs for agencies and printers that are looking to increase business by servicing 2D bar code ad and print jobs.

While it's not rocket science, PRINT2D's approach to the print to mobile channel demonstrates how important it is to think through all aspects of a 2D bar code strategy before it goes live. PRINT2D's mental approach to this channel has been important and extremely influential from the start. Now, as they work to educate advertisers embarking on the second wave of 2D bar code advertising, I'll keep an eye on their progress with updates as needed.

Tomorrow, I begin day one of a three day look at some of PRINT2D's more unique product offerings. From designer codes to radio-station tie ins, I'll examine how these components are creating new ways for advertisers to successfully reach out and engage potential consumers. Next up, imagine designing a QR Code for a 500K piece run. If you could get a third party to test and validate the code, would you? Tomorrow, I discuss PRINT2D's bar code validation services.

Please Note: This article represents an independent review of PRINT2D's platform and services, I was not compensated to write or publish it. PRINT2D has been kind enough, however, to provide 2D Bar Code Strategies' loyal readership with a very special offer on mobile services. Please click here for a special offer from PRINT2D.

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