Mobile Marketer has re-launched! Click here to learn more!

Mobile-activated magazine ads double in number: report

According to a new report from Nellymoser, approximately 10 percent of magazine advertising pages contained a QR code or other activation mechanism in the second quarter, up from 5 percent a year ago.

The second quarter "Mobile Activated Print in Magazine Advertising" report also found that Sally Hansen is the most active brand when it comes to activating its print ads via mobile, with 64 codes appearing from the brand during the second quarter. Additionally, for the first time, every magazine surveyed by Nellymoser for the ongoing study printed at least one mobile action code during the second quarter.

?The big news is that more than 10 percent of all advertisements contain a QR or other action code and that every magazine in the top 100 survey had at least two codes in them during Q2,? said Roger Matus, executive vice president at Nellymoser Inc., Arlington, MA. ?Mobile activated print has crossed the line from a geeky curiosity to a mainstream marketing tool used in a broad market.

?There is a lot of buzz about newer scan technologies, such as digital watermarking, augmented reality, image recognition and NFC and each has had compelling implementations,? he said. ?But, 96 percent of codes are still traditional 2D barcodes, such as QR and Microsoft Tag.?

Auto industry embraces mobile
The number of QR codes and other mobile activation mechanisms continues to grow, with Nellymoser forecasting that the percentage of advertising pages containing an action code will reach or exceed 12 percent in September. The peak month of activity so far this year was May with 10.4 percent of advertising pages containing an action code.

Just four industries - beauty, home, health and automotive - accounted for 49 percent of mobile action codes appearing in leading magazines during the second quarter.

Notably, automotive joined the top four industries list for the first time as a result of a jump in the use of mobile codes by brands in this category. In the first quarter, the automotive category placed 81 mobile codes in leading magazines but in the second quarter that number jumped to 195 codes.

During this same period, the fashion industry dropped from fourth to sixth place in the list as other categories increased their use of mobile codes.

Brand use grows
Additionally, more brands are adopting action codes. The number of brands using action codes jumped from 451 in the first quarter to 598 in the second quarter.

The brands with the most QR codes appearing in the pages of leading magazines includes Sally Hansen with 64, John Frieda with 32, Infiniti with 27, Nivea with 26, Cuisinart with 25, Tyson with 25, Progressive with 23, Restart Fitness with 21, Essure with 19, Blue Buffalo with 18, Botox Migraine with 18 and Tide Pods with 18.

Growth to continue
The total number of editorial- and advertising-related mobile action codes, such as QR codes, Microsoft Tags and digital watermarks, appearing in the Top 100 U.S. magazines totaled 2,200 in the second quarter. This number was up 61 percent from 1,365 in the first quarter.

The second quarter total is more than double the 1,062 codes printed during the second quarter of 2011.

The magazine titles with the most mobile action codes appearing were Better Homes and Gardens with 25, InStyle with 22 and Popular Mechanics with 21.7.

Nellymoser forecasts that if growth continues at its existing rate, more than 11,000 codes will be printed in 2012.

QR codes prevail
The numbers continue to show that QR codes have a significant lead over other mobile activation codes. In June, QR codes accounted for 85 percent of mobile action codes appearing in the leading magazines, Microsoft Tag 14 percent and all others - including Digimarc, SpyderLynk and JagTag - 1 percent.

Two new technologies made their first appearance this year, with Sports Illustrated using augmented reality for image recognition in its March issue while the pages of Wired magazine showcased the first near-field communications campaign.

Video is the most popular activity linked to mobile codes, with 40 percent of these campaigns linking to a video. This is followed by opt-in/subscription/sweepstakes initiatives, which 19 percent of codes linked to. Social media came in at 18 percent, buy online 14 percent, store locator 12 percent, coupon 7 percent, photo gallery 5 percent, downloads 4 percent, recipes 4 percent and voting 1 percent.

While almost all of the mobile action codes surveyed resulted in an experience that was viewable on mobile, one-quarter were not optimized for mobile use, with 10 percent of all action codes linking to Web content that was not mobile-optimized.

In terms of best practices, 58 percent of all action codes were accompanied by information describing what happens after a scan. As codes gain wider acceptance, there is also a trend away from having other content around a QR code, with only 13 percent of codes in the second quarter customized and only 6 percent accompanied by an icon.

?I am shocked that 10 percent of all codes went to non-mobile Web content, such as a company home page,? Mr. Matus said. ?Additionally, 1.5 percent of codes would not scan or contained bad links, including eight that went to a QR code generator site.

?One would think that if an advertiser made the effort and paid the cost to place a code in a national magazine that that advertiser would at least create an experience designed for mobile,? he said.

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