2D code: The next big pull for viral marketing campaigns?


According to a new Nielsen Mobile report, 90% of cell phone users with data services think pushing ads to their device is unacceptable. (Of course, irritation with the process didn’t stop half of those who had seen an ad from responding).

Now, at least two companies are working on technology that enables cell phone users to easily pull digital content to their phones when they want it instead.

QR%20code.pngThey’ve created a two-dimensional code (think UPS packages — and see the “Space Invaders” image at left) that, when photographed with a cell phone camera and processed with onboard software, pulls content to the user from pre-loaded databases. Essentially, it turns your cell phone into a barcode scanner, but better.

Any business using the technology can upload content to the system then create a unique 2D code to use on packaging, billboards, flyers, newspaper and magazine ads, display windows—anywhere it can be photographed with a phone camera.

For example, Mobile Discovery, a company associated with Case Western Reserve University and Scanbuy, partnered with cell service providers and Billboard magazine to use the 2D code in an ad for a new album. Readers photographing the code instantly received content such as sample songs without having to type in URLs or use search services.

The beta test project requires users to download the software to their phones, but Mobile Discovery envisions a day when the software comes bundled on all new cell phones.

Scanbuy says the marketing applications are virtually limitless, from using it on business cards to buying tickets or entering contests to accessing the latest bus schedule.

I can certainly picture it in viral campaigns – think 2D code stickers on light poles, bumper stickers, and fast food packaging.

Will it catch on as the latest marketing craze? What do you think, mobile marketers?

You might also like
  1. streetstylz says

    It should be noted that:

    Scanbuy’s indirect resolution process, which they use for their proprietary EZcode, is infringing on NeoMedia Technologies’ core patents.

    Scanbuy uses the indirect encoding method for their barcode resolution process.

    Indirect encoding (patented by NeoMedia) is the process of linking the target information to an index (364528 for example) and putting that unique identifier into a 1D UPC/EAN or 2D barcode. The code reader on the mobile phone reads the barcode and sends the code data over the Internet to a central resolution server that will tell the mobile phone what action is associated with the index, i.e. access a URL, download media, initiate a phone call, etc.

    NeoMedia Technologies has a suite of twelve issued patents covering the

    core concepts behind linking the physical world to the electronic world

    dating back to 1995.


    NeoMedia and Scanbuy are currently in litigation. What happens if NeoMedia seeks a permanent court ruling enjoining Scanbuy from ever infringing on

    NeoMedia’s patented process? Not good for Scanbuy, Mobile Discovery, or Case Western.

    It would be in Scanbuy’s best interest to settle with NeoMedia and license their patents.

  2. dlethe01 says

    Ezcode is a propietary code. Ezcode is not standard. QR, DataMatrix, and Aztec codes are the standard for pull and push barcoding.

  3. Roger Smolski says

    Hi Peg –

    Your blog is on my must read list so I saw your post ‘2D code: The next big pull for viral marketing campaigns?’ and I just know you will be interested in a new online magazine I started a while ago http://2d-code.co.uk

    If you enjoy it and think it is appropriate please spread the word to your readers and colleagues!


    – Roger

  4. Peg Davis says

    Thanks to everyone who has written a comment. I’m learning more about 2D code and the competition in this space all the time!

    It’s a little off the original thread, but here’s (as far as I can tell) a unique application for 2D (QR) code in Japan, where this technology is nothing new:


  5. vanessa says

    Looks good in theory, but in reality it’s already been a proven disaster:


    I don’t know… between the sexist trial and the outrageous costs… not worth it.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.