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Advertisers drive 617 percent jump in magazine 2D bar codes: Nellymoser

The number of 2D bar codes appearing in magazine advertising rose 617 percent last year while the use of these codes for editorial purposes was flat, according to a new report from Nellymoser.

The Mobile Action Codes in Magazine Advertising 2011 report found that a record 4,468 2D bar codes and watermarks were printed in the top 100 United States magazines in 2011, giving publishers a way to engage readers, build brand loyalty and capture new business. Advertisers drove much of the growth, with the number of advertising codes reaching 606 in December, up from 77 earlier in the year.

?The big surprise to me is the percentage of ad pages that contain a code,? said Roger Matus, executive vice president at Nellymoser Inc., Arlington, MA.

?In December, it hit 8.4 percent of all ad pages across all magazine categories,? he said.

?When one in 12 pages contains an action code, it is no longer a novelty - it has become a part of the print marketing strategy for big brands.?

Use broadens
Nellymoser?s survey of the top 100 magazines by circulation found that the percentage of ad pages with a mobile code of some kind grew from 3.55 percent in March to 8.36 percent in December.

The average number of codes per issue grew from 2.33 in the first quarter of 2011 to 6.5 in the fourth quarter. Of the top 100 magazines, 96 percent contained at least one action code in 2011.

The study also found that almost all action code experiences had been optimized for mobile by the end of the year.

Nearly 40 percent of mobile codes used in advertising came from companies in three industries: beauty, home and fashion. 

The company also found that, in the retail sector, stores targeting shoppers between the ages of 14 and 30 with moderately priced merchandise were more likely to use QR codes. Retailers using codes included Aerie, American Eagle, BCBG Max Azria, Express, Forever 21 and Gap.

Fashionable brands such as John Frieda, L?Oreal, Garnier and Revlon used QR codes in magazines last year to demonstrate their trendiness.

Nellymoser also saw signs that the market for QR codes is broadening, with brands such as Bose, Intel, JC Penney and Zappos making the list for the Top 10 brands in the fourth quarter for the first time.

The report looked at QR codes, Microsoft Tags, Spyderlink SnapTags, BEE Tags, JagTags, Digimarc watermarks and other codes.

Overall, QR codes were the most widely used, accounting for 72 percent of all codes appearing on magazine pages last year. Microsoft Tag was in second place with 25 percent.

Popular uses
The most popular use of mobile codes was to showcase a video, with 54 percent of codes taking users to a video offering a behind-the-scenes look, a product demonstration, a how-to video or an entertaining video.

The second most popular use was to capture data and build an opt-in database, most often by using a sweepstakes entry to entice the consumer. Other uses included a social media tie-in at 23 percent, ecommerce at 19 percent, store locator at 13 percent and coupons at 11 percent.

The study also found that the nature of the editorial codes changed throughout the year, with many focused on videos related to features early on in the year but shifting toward sweepstakes later on in the year. 

How codes were presented on a print page also evolved throughout the year. For example, 48 percent of all action codes contained an instruction regarding how to download a code reader in the second quarter but that number dropped to 23 percent in the fourth quarter.

However, 70 percent of codes in the fourth were accompanied by information describing what happens after the scan.

More than 90 percent of action codes are placed on the bottom half of the page.

?Magazines are great for bringing together a large audience of like-minded people,? Mr. Matus said.

?QR makes the magazine interactive and mobile,? he said.

?It is possible to deliver demonstrations, build a list, engage in commerce and take people to social media at the time and place where the person is engaging with your content.?

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York