Posted by: brandextenders | July 11, 2010

Click And You Shall Receive

How much would it be worth to your brand if you could interact with current and potential customers when they are most interested in your products? At the point-of-sale; while they were reading one of your advertisements or even using a promotional product from your company? And what if they could garner information on your products and promotions by simply using their cell phone’s camera?

Welcome to the world of 2D barcodes, the next generation of barcodes which are accessible by most anyone who has a cell phone with a camera. They’re called 2D because the information is encoded both horizontally and vertically which allows for more data to be packed into these weird-looking symbols. This is fairly new technology however savvy brands are using 2D barcodes not only to provide information on their products and services, but in promotions and mobile marketing campaigns.

89% of all cell phones hitting the market now have cameras in them which are key in being able to access the information on a 2D barcode. The picture to the right shows just a few examples of what these symbols look like, but like the old days of VHS vs. beta there are many different varieties of these barcodes vying for attention and ultimately the market will determine which ones become commonplace. Unlike the ubiquitous 1D barcodes, this new version stores much more information including and most importantly for this discussion, hyperlinks back to websites and other information on the Internet. It’s now possible to create links from objects in the real world to data in the virtual world. Marketers and brands that understand how powerful this new technology is will be able attract tech-savvy consumers and offer an experience that is interactive by delivering anything you would see or hear on a webpage to a Smartphone.

So how does this work in the real world? It’s fairly simple: a brand creates a 2D barcode through one of many providers encoding their information into the symbol which could include websites, video or audio. They barcode is printed onto products, literature or advertisements and when an interested consumer sees it they use their phone with a camera to take a picture of the code. Some of the 2D barcode providers require an application to be downloaded to recognize the symbol while newer versions simply require you to take a picture and then text it to a number which will automatically send your phone to a website or possibly a video or audio link.

Here’s how just a few brands are using this technology now to connect with their customers and prospects:

  • Australian winemaker Lindemans is using 2D barcodes on their Point-of-Purchase literature to tell their story to consumers as well as enter them into a mobile sweepstakes for travel and prizes.
  • Papa John’s pizza created a mailer with a 2D barcode. When scanned by a mobile phone consumers were directed to their website where they received a promotional code for a free pizza
  • Axe, the cutting edge line of men’s grooming products, created 2D barcodes that when activated delivers exclusive videos featuring comedians from the “Axe Twisted Humor Tour.”
  • The movie Avatar produced Point-of-Purchase materials using JAGTAG’s 2D barcodes to deliver a short Avatar video as well as the opportunity to opt-in to receive ongoing promotional updates on the blockbuster movie.

This is what’s called “pull-technology” which means the consumer initiates the inquiry and usually results in a much higher level of interaction than other traditional forms of static marketing. The applications for this technology are as infinite as a brand’s imagination, but include product advertising, promotions, sweepstakes, brand affinity and sampling.

As for promotional products, this technology can now enable a product handed out as a giveaway or gift to actually drive recipients to become involved with a brand. Imagine your company has introduced a new product and is exhibiting in a trade show to get the word out. Imprint a 2D barcode on the promotional product you are using and pull recipients to your website to learn more about the product. Offer rewards for the first 50 or 100 people to access the barcode, develop a video they can watch on the new product or give discounts for orders placed online by those who got there using the barcode.

Tough times call for innovative solutions and 2D barcodes can bring a whole new dimension to your branding efforts. I’d love to help your company find ways to use 2D barcodes on your promotional products that can measure the results of expenditures. Stay tuned to this blog for more updates on exciting ways to incorporate 2D barcodes into your promotional product marketing.

With 24 years in promotional marketing, Steve Woodburn works with clients to develop creative and measurable solutions that solve their marketing needs using promotional products, uniform programs, online company stores, point-of-sale initiatives and rewards and recognition. He builds long-term relationships and becomes a trusted advisor and consultant his clients can turn to for all their brand extension needs. You can reach him at:

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