Mobile Barcodes Drive Traffic to Brand Sites from Print

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The FINANCIAL — Only 4% of print ads in the US contained 2-D mobile barcodes in 2011, but their use is growing, according to advertising tracking firm Competitrack.


A February 2012 report by the company found that well-planned campaigns put mobile barcodes in attention-grabbing places, and then gave customers a clear call to action to lead them to content.

According to eMarketer, more than 40% of 2-D barcodes took users to general commerce and product information online, and just over 23% led customers to brand-building sites. The pairing of video with mobile barcodes was also a popular approach, with about 13% of landing pages containing video content. Because users overwhelmingly access 2-D barcodes while on the go, Competitrack suggested optimizing the layout of landing pages for mobile devices.


About 22% of all US mobile barcodes appeared in retail advertising, while roughly 13% were featured in technology ads. Just under 7% of 2-D barcodes appeared in financial services ads, but investment management firm Oppenheimer Funds was the most frequent user of mobile barcodes from any sector—85% of the company’s print ads contained them.


Although there are several different types of 2-D barcodes, the open-source QR code remains the advertising industry standard with almost 90% market penetration, according to Competitrack. And advertisers appear to be deciding on a case-by-case basis whether they need to explain to their target audiences how to use mobile barcodes, which generally require a dedicated code reader app.


Earlier research has found that, though many consumers may not recognize the trade names of such codes, they know what to do when they see one.

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