Mobile Technology and Print

2D or Data Matrix Codes could revolutionize the way we read printed materials. Magazines, newspapers and books could become interactive.

Bloc from hypnoticmedia on Vimeo.

2D Codes

Can your mobile phone read these codes…all new phones in the USA will by next year. In Japan more than 80% of cell phone users access these codes daily.

The desire of today’s society, particularly among the younger, more tech-savvy parts of the population. To instantly gain information about a person, place or thing has been termed “infolust” by Trendwatching.com.
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The fact that “Google me” has entered the English language is just one example of the way in which social networking and marketing is being affected by the web. The inclusion of 2D symbols as a shortcut to this information — whether it’s information about a product or person — is just the next step in this evolution.
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Currently, scanning 2D symbols on ads or items can link the user to a website for more information, to receive a special offer or discount coupon. However, the trend toward the use of 2D symbols and cell phones goes beyond mere information.
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There are currently pilots and limited implementations that allow consumers to purchase event tickets over their cell phones (scan a symbol to go to the web site, make a purchase, get a 2D symbol — ticket — to display for admission).

The vision is that 2D symbols will be used to help consumers order a taxi, sign up for a text alert service, enter a competition, and more.

This code will take my phone to my xanga blog!
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Mobile and Coupons

Coupons have always annoyed me. I love to save money as much as the next person, but not at the expense of carrying around massive amounts of clutter.

I’m reminded of the episode from the last season of Seinfeld where George finds a coupon on the street, puts it in his wallet, and his wallet flies apart under the strain of too many coupons.

Well, coupons are now poised to enter the digital age.
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Advertisers are beginning to invest in mobile coupons, according to The New York Times. The idea is to have discounts sent to consumers via text messages or other means which the consumers would opt-in to receiving.

This move to digital could be a huge boon for coupons, and the advertising industry as a whole. Mobile coupon company Cellfire recently raised a new $12 million round while Modiv Media took $8 million for mobile marketing, including coupons.

The mobile world is evolving quickly. Semacodes or QR codes, two dimensional square barcodes, are one example. Using a cellphone camera, a consumer simply takes a picture of one of these codes and a phone with the correct software can translate it into a coupon or a URL leading to where a coupon can be found.

These ads are popular in Japan and can be found everywhere from coffee cups to billboards. Now Google is working with the technology in the U.S. under AdWords.

In the late 1990s several startups tried and failed to implement similar technologies, but the post-iPhone, pre-Android world is a very different place. Would anyone have imagined regularly browsing the Internet on a mobile phone in the late 1990s? No.

If they are already pushing it via AdWords, it might make sense for Google to include Semacode software as a part of its Android platform. Others, such as Neomedia, are working on software for the technology as well.

What makes more sense? Carrying around dozens of slips of paper in your pocket or transferring those over to your cellphone, a device you already need to anyway?

QR codes and the Kelly Brooks Pepsi campaign in the UK

Kelly Brooks appears in ads featuring QR codes. The 2D dot matrix bar code technology is close to a tipping point in Europe and Asia. Brooks features in a Pepsi campaign that has gone live in December and images of her clutching a QR code have featured in most of the tabloids.
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QR (short for Quick Response) codes are 2D postage stamp sized barcodes that can pack in up to half a page of data. The technology was originally devised to track goods in a supply chain but has found its way into the consumer mobile sector in tagging application. Its a neat format that lends itself to a mobile phone screen.

Luxury brands, QR codes and cell phone commerce

If you have any interest in e-tailing, e-marketing, marketing technology or fashion, check this out. An article in last Friday’s edition of Women’s Wear Daily (WWD)—the must-read daily newspaper of the fashion industry—announced that Polo Ralph Lauren is about to embark on selling its products through cell phones (presumably in the U.S.).

“Taking its philosophy of “merchan-tainment” to a new level, Polo Ralph Lauren Corp. is breaking into mobile commerce — m-commerce — incorporating technology that allows shoppers to buy Polo merchandise from their cell phones.
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To realize this, the company is incorporating Quick Response Technology codes in its ads, mailers and store windows, which potential shoppers can scan and download on their camera phones. Once scanned, the site m.ralphlauren.com allows a mobile phone user to enter the world of Ralph Lauren — not just by offering the limited edition 2008 U.S. Open collection, classic polo and oxford shirts, chinos, and even the Ricky bag, but also with exclusive video content and a style guide.”

A bit further on, the article goes on to say that “Polo is the first luxury retailer to tap into the QR technology, which is already popular in Asia and Europe.”

As the piece is written, readers could be forgiven for assuming that Ralph Lauren is somehow out in front of other luxury brands when it comes to cell phone e-tailing and technology adoption. But truth be told, here in Japan, a number of luxury brands have been operating cell phone commerce sites for some time. Open any of Japan’s top fashion magazines this month and you’ll see that Gucci is using QR codes prominently in its advertising right now—and is using a customized code design, the latest trend amongst design sensitive brands.

If you’re new to QR codes, they (and other emerging technologies), can be used by marketers in a number of ground-breaking ways. To see how they’re being leveraged as powerful marketing tools in Japan, read this Japan Marketing News article from early 2007.