Emerging Platforms Opinions Social Media

SnapTags vs. QR Codes the Ideal 2D Experience

Posted by Tom Edwards on March 1st, 2011 at 9:24 pm

By now most of you have seen or interacted with QR codes in one form or another. Whether it was online, direct mail, etc… QR Codes are becoming a common tool in marketing toolkits.

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While it is possible to leverage a small portion of a QR code to incorporate brand elements it is not the most aesthetically appealing execution for a brand. Also, QR codes currently require an application or software to read. While Near Field Communication or NFC is evolving it is still not widespread.

Red Urban QR Code

One additional issue is that QR codes are hardcoded upon generation. In order to manage the response destination changes would need to be made on the response side of the campaign such as changing content at the point of delivery or redirects to the desired response destination or use a premium QR management service.

QRCodePolo

As I look to execute campaigns that require enhancing product packaging, point of purchase, etc… I want a solution that is going to drive the maximum engagement potential with a low barrier of activation.

Initially I was an advocate of QR codes. I Provided POV's on how to leverage the codes to drive engagement with mobile apps, sizzle videos, social destinations, etc…

Now I am looking to SnapTags more and more to drive that level of engagement for brands that I work with. A SnapTag is an aesthetically pleasing execution that provides multiple engagement options with the brand at the center of the experience.

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What I like about SnapTags is that the user has multiple options to activate and engage. They can simply text an image or e-mail an image of the SnapTag to drive the text or multimedia response.

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The beauty of the SnapTag is that you are not locked into a single response destination. SnapTags support the ability to change the response as they are served via a database vs. hardcoded into the tag. This means that you can change the destination of the response without messy redirects off of the original response.

This is an ideal benefit if you want to drive different levels of engagement throughout the lifecycle of the tag.

Also, by driving activation via text or e-mail the SnapTag adds a CRM element to the campaign that can then drive a mobile opt-in vs. simply sending a user to a pre-determined location via a QR code.

branded-snaptags

From an analytics perspective instead of just simply tracking # of scans SnapTags offer media performance and consumer behavior tracking as an added benefit. Which is key when mapping back to the original brand objectives.

So when it comes to driving 2D digital activation I am leaning towards the SnapTag execution more and more as it provides a more robust model that is scalable with the campaign.

18 Responses to “SnapTags vs. QR Codes the Ideal 2D Experience”

  1. You CAN change the URL of a QR code via the admin, if your using a platform that allows it - most will offer this as a premium service - but is very easy and instant.

    Asking the consumer photograph, attach, then text or email is not intuitive, in fact is way too much like hard work.

    Again depending on the platform you use, statistics can be VERY rich.

    With the advent of NFC, no scanning, no photos, just touch and go, I think you are possibly going in the wrong direction with SnapTags.

    You also say, it would be great to build up a mailing list - but in the advert above, it says that will not be the case, and in very small writing, your encouraged to type in hundreds of characters to read their privacy policy.

    Sorry if all that sounds a little negative, for your idea, but I hope it makes you double think it out.

    PS: If you use facebook, join our page at http://facebook.com/mobiletagging

    • Tom Edwards says:

      Hi Paul,

      Great feedback although I will disagree RE: intuitive. For the average consumer at this snapshot in time it is an easier experience to simply snap and text as NFC is not wide-spread at this time. As consumer behavior is tied to text, photo and video vs. scanning. Also, from a brand perspective the ability to reach consumers via either text or e-mail vs. scanning opens up more opportunities as the audience on extending via package is to an average consumer vs. highly engaged early adopters.

      From a CRM perspective you can drive a mobile opt-in based on how you configure the campaign and terms. The example above may not drive an opt-in for that specific campaign.

      Everyone is entitled to their opinion but for the category and especially the audience segments that I am targeting today the SnapTag is a very viable and attractive option. Also you have to admit from a brand perspective it is much nicer visual experience. QR codes only allow for a 30% variance for branding.

      • Hi Tom,

        So, I checked you out and your company, and I figured, you guys are smart, and here Germany it's very late, and perhaps I'm missing the magic here. I re-read your article and read another article on this topic and decided that it was time to 'do' a test.

        I photographed the SnapTag above and sent it to the email address as directed. Was is easy? It was. Was it intuitive? debatable for sure, but it was not complicated. I use a high end Android, so the emailing was all automated and I was not perplexed. Imagining that a consumer was using a text message would make it even easier. Ok, so I'm over the first hurdle.

        Putting the mobile device down, I return to the PC and open the mail tab. WOW, a message already - that was extremely quick. I read the message and as I have no Blu-Ray player, its not relevant for me, however, I can see that it would be relevant if it had been in context to something that I'd wanted. :)

        The opt-in, opt-out part was clearly presented. In this example I sent an opt out reply, but I'm guessing you could send the opt out at any time. The gamification aspect to this tag was pleasing. This was a well thought out campaign that required more cognitive power than simply looking at a static webpage of bla, bla.

        Onto to some of your stats. Texting is still huge, and will remain so for quite some time, years I believe. Its actually still the no.1 thing, by about 30%, that people do on mobile devices, including smartphones. So that makes sense.

        From an appearance perspective, and considering brand design, yes your right it does look great and really holds no bounds to creativity. And yes, QR / 2D codes do have limitations on how you can change them, although there have been some very creative designs to date.

        Here comes the revelation and turn-around. As we, the market, all those involved in the new medium are trying to encourage the use of mobile in campaigns, it really cannot be backward thinking to get involved with this. Apologies for not seeing that at first glance.

        Going one step further, I think this method may actually be more familiar to an average consumer than dealing with a new symbol they have never seen. The fact that these tags instantly create return communication, and it works, is great.

        Point for me, the fact that you can change the URL on a QR code is still very cool... now comes the synergy to our discussion - an idea...

        A multiple future ready advert that contains all three possibilities. :)

        1) SnapTag design for those who like to snap photos, email or text - they get their message and opt in / opt out option by email or text.

        2) A QR code, nicely branded (within the 30% rule) that takes you to a mobile enabled landing page with the same information as above, with a simple form to add email.

        3) Print all of that on NFC paper and your ready to rock, today, tomorrow and in 5 years.

        What do you think? And where do I send my invoice ;)

        Aside, it would be cool to meet your team in Munich actually, I'm only 40 minutes away.

        Anyhow, I want to say thank you for taking the time to convert me. I'll be looking into this in more detail and can clearly see what has excited you.

        Best,

        Paul

  2. Tom Edwards says:

    Hi Paul,

    Great feedback although I will disagree RE: intuitive. For the average consumer at this snapshot in time it is an easier experience to simply snap and text as NFC is not wide-spread at this time. As consumer behavior is tied to text, photo and video vs. scanning. Also, from a brand perspective the ability to reach consumers via either text or e-mail vs. scanning opens up more opportunities as the audience on extending via package is to an average consumer vs. highly engaged early adopters.

    From a CRM perspective you can drive a mobile opt-in based on how you configure the campaign and terms. The example above may not drive an opt-in for that specific campaign.

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion but for the category and especially the audience segments that I am targeting today the SnapTag is a very viable and attractive option. Also you have to admit from a brand perspective it is much nicer visual experience. QR codes only allow for a 30% variance for branding.

  3. PS. Could you send me a link / recommendation to those who are coordinating the back end administration of SnapTags - thanks.

    • Tom Edwards says:

      Paul,

      I am very impressed by your thorough analysis and I agree that there is room for multiple executions to drive interaction in the marketplace. I am a part of the US team but the next time I am in Munich I will give you a heads up!

      Also per your request the organization for the back-end is http://www.spyderlynk.com/types-of-snaptags

      Thanks again for your great feedback!

  4. Matthew Valleskey says:

    I agree with Paul that changing the destination for a QR code is fairly easy and many platforms allow you to do this. But the main question I have is why are you having the end user take a picture, then e-mail or sms/mms that picture, only to get a link via e-mail or SMS back that then I have to click on another link to take them to the page you want. The power of a 2 d barcode is that it takes the user directly to the experience you want them to have in one click. Also why not just set up the shortcode with a keyword to do the same thing, instead of having them MMS a picture. I do not understand the extra step, and what value that provides. As I did a test as well, where I MMS the picture of the code to the short code, and I got a SMS response back. As not all carrier support MMS through a shortcode.

    • Scott says:

      Thank you for taking the words right out of my mouth. It is not smart to put a QR and a SnapTag on the same page. It would take up too much real estate. However, there are good points that not everyone knows how to scan a QR code. That is why at this point of transition for the consumer, why not just put a QR code option along with the SMS option? Everyone knows how to text...not everyone knows the easiest and quickest way to take a picture and MMS it (only if they have ATT, Verizon, or Alltel...what about the others that have to email the picture?)...How about those people that take a picture that they think is good enough to send through, and wait and wait and wait because it was too blurry or too dark? I have seen plenty of ways to implement QR codes into the creative of an ad that would be much more appealing than having a big white box with a picture and a circle around it. I have spoken with many consumers about their preferred way to interact with mobile Consumer Response Technology, and they ALL say QR, because once you download one scanner, one time, it is SOOO much easier than any snap and send technology.

  5. Peter says:

    Well, its good to see this level of intercourse. Here's my take. SnapTag requires too much work (take the pic and then text it in and NFC isn't here yet 9it will require anothe 2 years to impliment. QR is here, people are adding the app to their phones today, QR links to either a mobile web site or an app. As they say in adland, no muss no fuss. now the only downside is the ugly barcode symbol.... and that is going away here at citrus.

  6. Tom Edwards says:

    The beauty of this discussion is that there is no wrong answer. Different audience targets require different means of driving engagement. In some cases a QR Code is relevant and the perfect execution. But in some instances a SnapTag may be better served based on the actual usage behavior of the audience segment targeted. Regardless this post did what I wanted it to do which was spark a good conversation and provide a devils advocate POV on Snap Tags vs. QR Codes. Thanks again to everyone for your great feedback!

  7. Huh...oddly enough, this is my first time hearing about SnapTags. Out of the gate, though, they appear to be more aesthetically-pleasing to the eye. And if it's true about the dynamic messaging capability, they may give QR codes a run for their money . . . literally.

    Will have to dive deeper to learn more. But thanks for presenting a solid case. Good stuff.

  8. Brian says:

    Hi Tom,

    Someone referred me to your post after we created an infographic on the same topic. I figured you would be interested in seeing our take on Snaptag vs QR, as well as some statistics about the growth of barcode marketing at large.

    The image is available at http://j.mp/ewhszT - please feel free to share and repost!

    • Brian, I've just written a report on QR Codes and would love to include your infographic, with all proper credits, of course. May I have permission?

    • Tom Edwards says:

      Hi Brian,

      You may want to update the infographic as their is an app to scan SnapTags. Also, it's important to note that a SnapTag does not require mobile web whereas a QR code does. Also, dynamic response management is a key point as well. Where there are good QR response management systems to update campaigns there is cost associated with that and time to construct the look and feel of the response. When comparing QR to SnapTags it goes beyond the generation of the QR Code itself and is more about how the code can support my initiatives and ultimately based on age demographics and the fact that 10% of mobile phone users have downloaded a barcode scanning app (All mobile phone users, not just smartphones) but 88% of mobile phone users can snap and send.

      • QR Codes do not require the mobile web, unless the data contained in the code is a URL, and you wish to visit the URL. That is the great thing with QR codes- you dint need to rely on any third party to get the data, unlike snaptag, ezcode, Microsoft Tag, etc. Entirely self-contained.

  9. Noelle says:

    Great Comparison! I think the SnapTags will be easier for consumers to comprehend and in the long run create a more interactive customer experience than QR Codes. However, QR codes are a great tool - when used correctly. I think the focus should be about educating marketers about these tools and the proper ways to implement them.

  10. Would you like a consumer's perspective? I'm a 51 year old dentist transitioning into consulting for other docs. I'm bringing myself up to date on "the mobile revolution" and what it means for dentists who want to engage their audience and attract new business.

    Older professionals like myself are only marginally aware of what a QR code is or does, and most haven't heard of snap tags.

    I did some research as a consumer. I found a Microsoft snap tag on the back of my LLBean catalogue, and having already gone through the routine of downloading a QR code reader previously, had no problem with the idea of downloading an app for the smart tag.

    I borrowed my husband's older iphone. Why? Because before updating my "iphone 2" (okay, if it ain't broke we don't fix it so we're a little slow on the upgrades!) I had given up on QR codes. The older generation camera just couldn't capture a decent image and it couldn't be detected by the software.

    So, I scanned the snap tag and it was a lousy photo: blurry and a little dark. But guess what? It went straight to the url. Success!

    I haven't tried a spyder tag yet, but the microsoft tag gets my vote for ease of use, even with a crappy camera and blurry image! My only complaint was the lengthy terms of agreement contract I had to sign before downloading the app from Microsoft.

  11. Lauren says:

    So this is what my brother told me about that he loves to used and enjoy that features. Now he wanted me to have one too but I am settle on my new gadgets and needs to save more to buy another newbie.

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