2D codes: QR code, Datamatrix code, Microsoft Tag, Bee Tag, JagTag, and resources

How 2D codes can be useful for marketing?

2D codes can be placed on any printed materials, buildings, soda cans, etc.  and provide additional information about offers, coupons, or any company promotions.  Most mobile devices with a camera can take a picture of the code and quickly access the info.  Some of 2D codes are completely free to use. 2D codes benefit both a consumer and a marketer: consumers can reach the information quickly and marketers can measure success of their campaigns.

History of 2D codes

The most popular code – QR code – was invented in Japan; during 90’s all Japanese mobile carriers agreed to include QR reading software into their phones. QR codes can be created by anyone license free and most readers can be downloaded to any camera enabled smart phone for free – http://www.cognation.net/qr/ QR codes are widely used in Japan and start to appear in western countries, including US. There is a range of proprietary systems, which have similar function but require payment.

A few types of 2D codes (US)

QR Code

How to generate: http://2d-code.co.uk/qr-code-generators

How to download a reader: http://percentmobile.com/getqr (or search for QR reader on your mobile device)

QR code is completely free for use. Success of the promotions can be measured by the traffic generated to the URL, what is easy to do through Web Analytics software. QR code as an open format becoming more popular.

More information on QR code from Bee Tag.

Datamatrix Code

Please note, this Datamatrix code was generated with Bee Tag software 😉  However, there are other options. Similar to QR code, Datamatrix can be tracked through the traffic it generates to the encoded URL, by using Web Analytics software.

More information on Datamatrix code from Bee Tag.

Microsoft Tag

How to generate a tag:  http://www.microsoft.com/tag/

How to download a reader: http://gettag.mobi/

Microsoft Tag is a proprietary tag which just celebrated its first anniversary and is currently free to use.  Microsoft might decide to charge for the use of the tag in the future, however, everybody who started a free trial will be able to use existing tags free for next two years.

Microsoft tag can be published in a colorful format, black/white, and also in a custom format allowing more creativity for the designers. Microsoft Tag provides an interface for management of all generated tags and tracking consumer activity.

I think Microsoft Tag is pretty (personal opinion 😉  ) and it also works surprisingly fast.  Microsoft Tag works well in small size. If you are interested, this is a concise technical comparison of Microsoft Tag and QR code.

More information: http://www.microsoft.com/tag/

Bee Tag

How to generate: http://generator.beetagg.com/

How to download a reader: http://www.beetagg.com/downloadreader/

Bee Tag is another proprietary system allowing businesses to embed their logo into the code.  Bee tag has a free version of the software which might show ads before redirecting consumers to the destination of the tag. Bee Tag also has built-in metrics and tag management interface, similar to Microsoft Tag. Bee Tag allows creating and managing Bee Tags, QR code, and Datamatrix in one interface.

More information: http://www.beetagg.com/BeeTaggSystem/BeeTagg.aspx


How to generate: http://www.scanlife.com/us/services.html

How to download a reader:  http://www.scanlife.com/us/appdownload.html

ScanLife offers free service for personal use (limit 1000 codes – quite enough),  and paid business solution.

ScanLife site has a great library of examples – very useful for campaign ideas.  All examples have a code that can be canned from the computer screen;  some of the campaigns and mobile destination sites are still active.  You can find different industries and applications – a wonderful resource to review.

More information: http://www.scanlife.com/us/


(The demo is copied from http://www.jagtag.com/jagtag-demo)

How to generate: http://www.jagtag.com/ (no free service for generation of functioning code is available)

No reader is needed

JagTag is the only 2D code which does not requires the reader. However, the process of using the code is not as streamlined as applying a reader already present on the mobile device. The consumer needs to take a picture of the 2D code, and then text it or e-mail it to a  provided number or an e-mail address. It is rather cumbersome comparing to QR readers (and other 2D code readers), but – true – no initial download is needed.

If we are lucky to see cooperation of mobile companies similar to the cooperation that happened in Japan’s history, all mobile devices will have a standard reader… eventually. Now, JagTag claims to be the only 2D code suitable for US, because no reader is needed.

JagTag site has a good collection of Market Applications with examples of its 2D code. This collection can be used as an inspiration for marketing ideas suitable for QR, Microsoft Tag, Bee Tag, ScanLife and other codes. 

What 2D codes can do (more)

  • Display text
  • Open a web site on the mobile phone
  • Initiate e-mail, SMS, phone call
  • Start video/audio stream

Recommended rules  of 2D code marketing (source with examples)

  • Make sure the code leads to a mobile web site (not a regular web site) – consumers will be viewing the site on mobile devices 😉
  • Keep the URL short (for QR codes) – the code is simpler and more likely to be read accurately if the URL is short (use URL shortening if needed)
  • Provide valuable content beyond the information on the printed material itself (seems obvious 😉  )
  • Do not be “too creative” with the code or tag image – the code or tag still needs to be found and recognized by the consumer

2D code resources

http://marksprague.wordpress.com/understanding-qr-codes/ wonderful and detailed resource

http://mashable.com/tag/qr-codes/Mashable QR resource

http://2d-code.co.uk/qr-code-generators – QR code generators

http://2d-code.co.uk/ – blog concentrated on 2D codes with campaign examples and resources

http://blogs.msdn.com/tag/– Examples of  Microsoft Tag (Microsoft Tag blog)

http://www.microsoft.com/tag/ – Top right of the page (under the search box) – list of articles about Microsoft Tag use.

http://www.beetagg.com/beetaggsystem/default.aspx – Bee Tag – good explanation of different codes

http://www.scanlife.com/us/examples.html – ScanLife – excellent library of examples

http://www.jagtag.com/market-applications – Jag Tag – Market Application – another collection of examples

Code Worriers – Facebook group for people around the globe interested in 2D codes (includes examples)

QR Code explanation video used by Detroit Red Wings promotion (explanation video is on the bottom of the article)

2D Codes opportunities for retailers – an excellent white paper

QR code use for Forsquare check ins simplification

QR code Fridge Magnet?  $3.95!

QR designs

Interesting: Japanese advertisement of the QR codes (thanks to Kobe for the comment).  Considering that US has several competing codes and tags, it will be interesting to see what will happen next…