2 Examples of Using Code/Image Scanning Technologies

This is Part 2 in a multi-part series this week on Mobile Scanning Technologies. I think these types of technologies are powerful in the “new” OOH because they bridge the offline (real-world) with the online (virtual world). And the “new” OOH, to me, is all about connecting others with the places and things around them AND each other.

What’s their true value?

Yesterday, I posed this fundamental question I’m often faced with when exploring two powerful enabling technologies – code & image recognition.

Today, I’m going to share a couple examples I found in the latest edition of Wired. As if I was setting up the comparison myself, there they were, 2 different car companies, using 2 different types of technologies, in the same publication. In terms of industry and target, I couldn’t ask for a much closer sample from which to compare.

Ford is no stranger to the interactive print ad space, having used Microsoft Tags (code recognition) for the better part of the year. Now, GM, (specifically Buick) is in the game, bringing their own ads to life via Google Goggles (image recognition). As a deeper exploration of yesterday, the question here is, “do they deliver value?” And more, “is one more effective than the other in doing so?”

When looking at these types of experiences, there are 2 components that are critical to their success and effectiveness:

1. The point from which the interaction originates – in this case, the printed advertisement (offline)

2. The destination where consumers are driven (online)

Both are factors in how “valuable” the technologies are in the brand experience.

Right off the bat, I notice a benefit that addresses the main question yesterday – “why not use a URL instead of the code?” In the Ford ad, they use both. This is smart and a solid approach. The code takes you to an Edge-specific site and the URL takes you to a Ford-specific site. By including both, they’re a) able to offer up two different paths and b) something that can’t be overlooked, they’re not confusing the consumer by including two different URLs and/or two different codes. They each have a purpose.

This is on top of the sheer value of making an otherwise non-interactive piece of collateral interactive. From a consumer’s standpoint, if they’re in the right mindset, this technology enables a unique, immersive experience from something that’s never generated an “experience.” And that’s a key differentiator here – the experience – you just don’t have the same experience typing in a URL on your mobile phone as you do scanning a code or an image. I would argue that in this day and age of consumption and connectedness, experiences are more and more important for brands to create. Those experiences can be created in many different ways, and one of them is through technologies like this.

After the code/image is scanned, it’s important to pay off the experience with compelling content. This doesn’t mean that the content needs to be flashy or moving, it just needs to provide value.

Ford Edge Mobile Site, Buick Regal Mobile Site

While the Ford Edge site offers more content, I would say both of these brands do a good job of providing the right content. “More” does not necessarily equate to “right,” but “right” equates to “valuable.” Regardless of where the consumer is in the purchase funnel, both of these sites give them enough information to get further down the path.

For awareness – the sites give them basic information.

For consideration – the sites give them access to a deeper level of information.

For purchase – the sites give them the ability to connect with dealers.

The debate can be had to whether or not Ford’s “more” content is more valuable than Buick’s scaled-back content, but the important thing to recognize here is that there is content for everyone. When looking at these two examples through this lense, I walk away with an important insight – it’s OK to present fewer options of content, just as long as they’re the right options. And the brand’s objectives will dictate that.

So, I think that both of these brands bring value in their respective experiences. I don’t think that one does a better job than the other in using these technologies. Ford has had more time to test this type of technology and content with their audience(s). But both provide a level of utility through a unique experience that wouldn’t otherwise be had.

So I ask, what’s NOT valuable about that?


(Disclaimer – GM is one of our clients, but I had nothing to do with the Buick piece featured here.)

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