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4.08.2013

SnapTags Are the Best, or Not

In a recent article (see below), the author compares, and touts, a print-to-mobile technology called SnapTag to QR Codes, but does so knowing very little about QR Code technology. Or, at least, that's the impression given based on the comments made. Take a closer look. My comments/questions are in bold.

SnapTags: The beautiful (and more useful) alternative to QR Codes
By: Aby Sam Thomas
April 5, 2013

While it is an abbreviation for Quick Response Code, one has to admit that it is hard to see what exactly is “quick” about the QR code. Sure, there is something to be said about the ease with which one can scan a QRcode and be directed to some kind of information about a brand or a business,but at first glance, there is really nothing a customer can instantly gleanfrom what is essentially an enhanced version of a barcode.

Now, take a look at Spyderlynk’s alternative to the QR code: the SnapTag. First ofall, it is definitely more aesthetically pleasing than the Rorschach blot-likeappearance of the QR code. SnapTags allow brands and businesses to put theirdefinitive stamps on the codes they present to their customers—the SnapTag’s“code ring” is almost like a halo over a company’s specific logo, andbrand recognition can be easily achieved.

2DBS: QR Codes do not have to be printed in the generic version (i.e., black and white modules/pixels). Instead, QR Codes can be customized with respect to shape, orientation, size, embedding, logo design and/or colors, just ask QR Code customization expert Philip Warbasse, CEO of Print2D. To say "there is really nothing a customer can instantly glean from what is essentially an enhanced version of a barcode" is simply not true. 

Butthere’s more to SnapTags than just their obvious visual advantages. To use a QRcode, a customer needs to have a smartphone with an app to scan the tag, whichthen transports them to what is almost always a static link. On the otherhand, a SnapTag has a wider user base—a customer needs only a phonewith a camera to work with a SnapTag, and the responses can be a lot moreinteractive than those obtained through the use of a QR code.

2DBS: First, we need to define what's meant by "static" link.  If the author is referring to a link that leads a consumer to a simple website page, fine. QR Codes can certainly do that but, if the complaint/argument is that the link goes to a simple website page, that has to do with the way the advertiser set up the scan resolve content, it has nothing to do with QR Code technology in and of itself. QR Codes can be just as interactive as SnapTags, as they offer the ability to link consumers with a webpage, a video/audio file, click-to-call, email, coupons, radio tie-in, maps, social sharing (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.), product payment, vCard and many other functions. 

Second, if the word static refers to the code itself, as opposed to the scan resolve content, here too QR codes shine. QR Codes can be created to be static or dynamic. In this sense, static refers to when the scan resolve content of a code stays the same from one day to the next, from one campaign to the next. Dynamic, however, is much different. With a dynamic code, an advertiser can use the same code, but with different scan resolve content. For example, a retailer might offer a 10% mobile discount coupon on Mondays and on Saturdays change the discount coupon to read 25%, all from the same code.

Third, if it's a matter of an advertiser wanting to play to a "wider user base" (i.e., feature phone users, as well as smartphone users) then they can easily add descriptive copy to a QR Code-based advertisement explaining how the consumer can access the scan resolve content via a text message or email.  Last I checked, ads that use SnapTag technology work in much the same way. SnapTag scan resolve content can be accessed by an app, taking a picture and sending an email, or by texting a short code. So, what's SnapTag's great advantage or difference in this area? (Note, the argument for playing to a wider audience diminishes from month to month, as from month to month more and more consumers are purchasing and using smartphones.) 

"You’re not dependent on an app,” explains Jane McPherson, chief marketing officer atSpyderlynk. “A consumer can take a picture of a SnapTag and text [or email] itto us. We read the SnapTag and return the marketing response.” Of course,smartphone users have the option of using SnapTag reader apps as well.These readers can be installed by brands into their ownspecific apps, and thus, customers can be given a very user-friendly, engagingexperience.

This level of engagement is made possible thanks to the variety of responses thatcan be delivered with the use of a SnapTag. Unlike a QR code that directs usersto what is usually just a singular website, a SnapTagresponse is much more customizable users can be sent a video, or alink to a Facebook page. According to McPherson, the SnapTag platform allowsmarketers to customize the responses so that consumers have a more“personalized experience” when interacting with a brand.

2DBS: As mentioned above, QR Codes can be just as interactive and just as customized as a SnapTag. Let's not confuse how an advertiser might decide to use QR Codes with the technology and its capabilities. They are two drastically different things. Also, to the article's author, I believe there is a big difference between customization and personalization, might want to look that one up.  

Brands can also configure SnapTag responses to be specific to a campaign, but sincethis is done by changing the positioning of the gaps in the “code ring,” thedifferent SnapTags will look virtually the same to the consumer. The SnapTagplatform also allows for marketers to measure analytics for alltheir various campaigns with SnapTags, and this data allows marketers to betterunderstand their customers and their preferences.

2DBS: QR Codes scan rates can also be easily tracked and measured. And, depending on the advertiser's level of sophistication and knowledge as it relates to deploying QR Codes, analysis can also be done on the web pages and content that are linked to the code.

With so many advantages to using the SnapTag, it’s not a surprise to learn that manybig brands have already implemented this revolutionary new technology for theirbusinesses. Spyderlynk’s long list of clients includes names likeCoke Zero, Dior and Toyota, and if all goes well, they could soon be addingWonderful Pistachios to their impressive resume, since Spyderlynk is a finalistin the Mobile Commerce Challenge at ad:tech San Francisco’s Startup Spotlightthis year.

2DBS: SnapTag technology is not new and not revolutionary. The technology is many years old, as is QR Code technology. With respect to big brands using SnapTag technology, my guess is that for every one brand using SnapTags there's probably 1,000+ brands using QR Codes.  

What the author fails to mention in the article is that SnapTag is a proprietary code platform, not an open-source platform like QR Codes. From JAGTAG to Microsoft Tag, other proprietary platforms, SnapTags have seen very limited use in the marketplace and an advertiser really should consider this when deciding which format to use. There are reasons why JAGTAG is no longer on the market. There are reasons why Microsoft Tag and SnapTag are hardly ever used by advertisers. QR Codes have become the de facto standard in the print to mobile space, and for good reason...the technology works.  

Lastly, if its a matter of questioning the viability and feasibility of SnapTag, let's ask Spyderlynk's CMO this one question. How many paying clients have used SnapTag technology for more than one campaign (i.e., how many repeat, paying customers have there been)?  Yeah, I thought so.

Catch Spyderlynk as they present SnapTags as a viable means to drive mobile purchasesfor Wonderful Pistachios at the Startup Spotlight Mobile Commerce Challenge at ad:tech April 10 at 3.30p.m. Note that the company will be also present for both days of the conferencein the Innovation Alley on the expo floor at Booth #2459.

In publishing an article like this and making the comments that I do, my goal is to help others learn, plain and simple. Time and time again, people want to make it seem as though QR Codes are plagued with problems and, the fact is, they aren't. The technology works, period. Some implementations and executions of the technology work better than others, but that's only because the marketers behind those campaigns make use of best practice, the user experience and ask, "what's in it for the consumer, not the company?" Good luck to Spyderlynk in the Commerce Challenge.

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