Introducing 2D Barcodes
About a year ago, I came across an article in one of the ad industry pubs about 2D Barcodes. It was mainly about how the technology works and the different applications both manufacturers and marketers are finding in places like Europe and Asia. I started thinking about the relevance of the technology to what we do as a print media here at Pulse and I fell in love.
Basically, 2D Barcodes turn your cell phone into a portal to the online consumer universe. At the same time, the technology effectively eliminates any disconnect between printed pages, instantaneous connectivity to information and, for the manufacturing-sales-inventory-marketing paradigm, it enables absolute cohesion of information. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Here’s How it Works:
We (Pulse) generate a 2D Barcode specific to a piece of information, say a special advertiser offer or free stuff. That barcode is married to a pre-determined landing page, lipulse.com/abc for instance. The barcode can now appear on any printed material for that offer (magazine pages, bulletin boards, t-shirts, etc). Any time a user sees the barcode, s/he can take a picture with a scan-enabled cell phone. The scan will instantly bring them to the landing page where they can engage in the offer or access the information being promoted. It takes about 3-5 seconds.
What Does a User Need?
Any cell phone with picture taking and web browsing capabilities can do this. All the user has to do is open the web browser on the phone, go to get.neoreader.com and follow the prompts for the one time free download. The whole thing takes about 5 seconds. From there, s/he is free to engage with 2D Barcodes any time, anywhere.
The Future is Now:
We released our platform with the November 2009 issue, and we are proud to be one of the first titles in the country to do so. But the technology is rapidly gaining ubiquity both here and abroad. In the past few weeks, I’ve received some bills that included a 2D barcode.
In China, the same 2D barcodes we’re using are included on billboards advertising concerts. Passersby scan the billboard and through their cell phones they can interact with the box office, view the seating chart, purchase tickets for a performance and have everything emailed to them for an instantaneous, paperless transaction.
Consider this: You’re shopping for wine and can’t decide between two different zinfandels. You can scan the two bottles (which have 2D barcodes on them) and compare Wine Spectator reviews to purchase the favored bottle. (This is happening in Europe.) Also in Europe, shoppers can scan merchandise in a store and find out where else it’s being sold within a 10 mile radius and what other retailers are pricing it at.
As retailers upgrade cash registers in the next 3-5 years, their scanners will be 2D equipped. In preparation, goods are being packaged with the barcodes on them. Cell phones, like Blackberries, are entering the market already 2D equipped (you can use your new Blackberry to scan a contact’s barcode and it will automatically enter into your address book). So the future really is now, and we’re happy to share it with you. Now if I could just get my hands on those dental transmitter microchips…