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QR code has most traction among bar codes: NeoMedia chief

The mobile bar code symbology with the most traction is the QR code, according to the acting CEO of NeoMedia Technologies Inc.

QR codes will continue to be the symbology of choice this year as well after a satisfactory run in 2010, according to Laura Marriott, the Seattle- and Victoria, British Columbia-based boss of 2D mobile bar code technology platform provider NeoMedia.

?The good news is that the majority of the market is adopting open standards, rather than proprietary solutions, which is great as consumers are able to scan QR codes with any universal reader,? Ms. Marriott said.

Marketers typically rely on mobile bar codes for couponing, ticketing, loyalty programs, comparison shopping, advertising and product information.

However, awareness of how to use mobile bar codes remains a key hindrance for faster consumer adoption of the technology, as Ms. Marriott points out in this detailed Q&A on the state of mobile bar codes, marketer use, ongoing challenges and prospects for this year.

?Even within the brands and agencies, mobile bar codes are a relatively new mobile strategy in their tool box,? Ms. Marriott said. 

"Further evangelization of the power of the mobile bar code as well as publishing of applicable use cases will be key," she said.

Please read the Q&A with Ms. Marriott, who once was president of the Mobile Marketing Association:

Why should marketers take notice of mobile bar codes in 2011?
Bar codes are becoming increasingly prevalent in all media.

They activate traditional and digital media by providing an opportunity for the consumer to engage directly with the brand at time of viewing whenever and wherever they are in a very easy to use experience. Simply scan and be connected to the content that you want, when you want.

What is it about bar codes that make them stand out from other mobile media?
Ease of use. Simply launch the application, scan the code and be connected to the content that you want. No lengthy URLs or phone numbers to remember.

By embedding a mobile bar code on advertisements or product packaging, brands are able to include more information in a single visual code and much smaller real estate area than you would if you had to include the product information.

For example, product nutritional information would take far more real estate to include on pack than the 2D code.

The 2D code provides access to an unlimited amount of data or applications.

The data or applications can also be updated without impacting the marketing initiative, therefore lowering costs.

The analytics which are available to the brand through the bar code campaign will also enable them to measure statistics around the consumer?s interaction with the product or advertisement.

Statistics can include time of day, location, duration of interaction and so on. 

Is the market trending toward usage of a particular type of bar code?
Yes, the symbology which has the most traction is the QR code and I do expect this to continue to be the symbology of choice in 2011.

The good news is that the majority of the market is adopting open standards, rather than proprietary solutions, which is great as consumers are able to scan QR codes with any universal reader.

Which categories have shown the quickest adoption of mobile bar codes?
We have seen uptake across multiple categories, but perhaps the most traction today is in the publishing and retail arenas.

And which brands have shown the most enthusiasm for bar codes?
Brands of all sizes are certainly adopting mobile bar codes.

However, we are seeing significant mobile initiatives leveraging mobile bar codes launched by players like eBay, Procter & Gamble, Calvin Klein, Best Buy and so on.

What?s the challenge that bar codes continue to face?
Reach is currently limited to those mobile devices with camera phone functionality.

Consumer education continues to be an issue and industry initiatives to educate consumers on how to download the bar code readers and then scan the codes to access the information or services are necessary.

However, with the big companies like Facebook and eBay, who are each beginning to launch mobile bar code initiatives, certainly helps to catapult the reach and, ultimately, the level of consumer understanding.

Bar code reader installation is also an issue given that the consumer is required to download a reader in order to be able to scan the code. 

Awareness is another issue.

Even within the brands and agencies, mobile bar codes are a relatively new mobile strategy in their tool box. 

Further evangelization of the power of the mobile bar code as well as publishing of applicable use cases will be key.

Why can?t handset makers install bar code readers in all phones?
Handset manufacturers are certainly able to install readers on mobile phones. However, many have not yet done so. 

NeoMedia currently works with both Sony Ericsson and Samsung Italy and many of our competitors have similar arrangements with handset manufacturers.

The good news is that multiple readers are available for download from many of the app stores such as Apple, Android and Ovi, but it would certainly make it easier for the consumer if universal barcode readers shipped with the handsets, eliminating the need for consumer download.

In the future, a bar code scanner integrated with the camera, removing the need to launch the bar code application, would be the ideal scenario.

Are bar codes more suited to mobile marketing or mobile commerce?
Both. We are seeing mobile bar codes used for mobile couponing, ticketing and loyalty applications, as well as advertising, comparative shopping and product information initiatives.

What strides did bar codes make in 2010?
Perhaps the most significant is that we saw bar codes getting significant traction in 2010. 

Bar codes appeared in more than just trial initiatives and actually became a part of full-scale deployments for brands of all sizes.

What are you willing to bet on with mobile bar codes in 2011?
Mass integration into print and out of home.

Open standards will be deployed over proprietary solutions.

And, ideally, I would love to see the mobile bar code take the place of the URL in advertising initiatives, but this might be 2012.