2D bar-codes – Why?

Initially developed by the manufacturing industry to track the movement of parts through the manufacturing process 2D barcodes sometimes called QR codes are the best tool we have at the moment to convert viewers from print media to digital. Getting readers of print to enter a URL has often been a bridge too far and 2D barcodes improve that.

Merging Print with Online

The most popular use of 2D barcodes in marketing is when there is a call to action. The codes are used to lead readers away from print media (but also TV and other sources) towards; special offers, research papers, product details, contact information. In fact in any situation where there is complex information to be communicated in conjunction with the advertisement. At the moment there is also a novelty value for the user in being able to scanthe 2D bar-code using their smart phone and then receive a  visual “reward”.


All bar-codes are equal…its just some bar-codes are more equal than others. When selecting a bar-code format avoid Microsoft’s Tag Reader and go for one of the open symbologies on the market such as QR adn Data Matrix to name but two. There are several sites that will create your 2D bar-code, here is one you can try.


There are two basic approaches. You can use the code to deliver a URL, these are called direct codes and you go straight to the web page just as though you had typed it in. Then there is the direct type like Microsoft where the content is served back tot he mobile and so can be more easily measured and varied by location or even time of day. Horses for courses – but you need to look carefully at the price you pay by using a proprietary reader….which right now guarantees a smaller viewing audience.

Keep it simple

While 2D bar-codes are good they are far from perfect and SMS is still the leader. Ina recent promotion Pepsi put 2d bar-codes on 500 million cans and these were scanned 30,000 times. 0.006% response…. maybe a can is not the best medium. These codes have been super popular in Japan and the reason for that is because most URLs are in western text even when the advert is in Japanese, so the codes got around the language barrier.

About adriangstewart

Senior executive with expert knowledge of all aspects of strategic marketing and a track record of creating sustainable competitive advantage. International management and leadership experience in both B2B and B2C organizations. Specialties:Strategic marketing management including; new product development, product life cycle management, business relationship management, market segmentation, marketing information systems, e-commerce and social media marketing.
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