QR Codes

What are two-dimensional bar codes?
Two-dimensional barcodes can be encoded with various data (phone numbers, text, photos, URLs, etc.) and "scanned" using the camera on a mobile phone. There are a few different standards:

QR Codes: QR really stands for "Quick Response" and was created in the early 90's in Japan. It's a two-dimensional bar code that stores data that can be reinterpreted. Japan-based Denso Wave filed the original patent and released a Japanese standard for it, but an ISO International Standard was approved and released in 2000. QR codes are now being used worldwide. QR codes are square shaped and are typically anchored by three smaller squares in the corners.

Datamatrix Codes: This standard was developed by RVSI Acuity CiMatrix and is now an ISO standard. You'll have seen these codes on many consumer products in the United States (look on your shampoo bottles and UPS packages). These barcodes are also square shaped but are usually anchored by two solid lines, on the far left and far right, forming a right angle at the bottom left corner.

Though less popular, there are a few other varieties: Semacode, mCode and ShotCode. (ShotCodes are actually circle-shaped!)

How can QR Codes impact journalism?
Now before your eyes gloss over, let me explain how this impacts journalism. If a consumer has a camera-equipped phone and has the right software, which is readily available and typically free, s/he could scan a QR Code using that mobile phone to get all kinds of information: coupons, parts of viral marketing campaigns, serialized chapters...the list goes on. Once scanned, the phone's browser automatically redirects to a URL (again, the web address is part of what gets written into the QR Code). And if you're redirecting to a mobile page within your domain, you're increasing your traffic from your print product!

Shall we consider the possibilities? A newspaper could start a point system with younger readers as part of a monthlong promotion. Once a day, the barcode would be hidden within the physical paper. Readers would scan it in and receive X# points towards his/her account. By the end of the month, readers with 25+ days of scanning would receive a free three-month subscription. You can target a younger, mobi audience and bring those circ numbers back up, too. How about a beauty magazine - at the end of your makeup section that month, offer a barcode. Monetize it by attaching a coupon to a featured beauty product sponsor.

I'm sold! How can I get started?
Generating QR Codes and developing an overall strategy does require a bit of skill and creativity...but why not get ahead of the mobile phone eight ball?

If you'd like to experiment with readers on your mobile phone, try Kaywa or BarSnap. There are more choices here. The iTunes store now offers the Barcode app, which will read Datamatrix dodes. Keep in mind, your phone will need to have a camera (that's enabled) in order to scan and read 2D barcodes. Of course, you can always contact us at MyDigiMediaGroup to learn more about using two-dimensional bar codes at your organization.