What’s Behind The 2D Tag?

What’s Behind The 2D Tag?

What's Behind The 2D Tag?

Lots of consumer-facing brands are using the new 2D bar code technologies (QR codes and Microsoft’s MS tags), which is a great way to offer more information than a print piece can offer, but what’s the best way to use them? 


The number one mistake I see is content behind QR and MS Tags that isn’t mobile friendly. Keep in mind when you create a tag that users will be viewing it on a mobile phone screen. That means light on text.

Let’s see what’s behind these 2D tags.

Bare Minerals

QR Code or MS Tag: MS Tag

The 2D bar code appears on: A BareMinerals print magazine ad

The hook: To learn more about what bareMinerals Skincare can do for you, scan this tag and watch our video.

When I click thru, I get: A well-produced YouTube video commercial on the benefits of the product.
Aesthetically, I like it. The video is less than one minute long, and tells the story along with interesting, soothing graphics. The video has 2,053 views.

Verdict: Meh. The video is nice, but what about more product details? Watching this video may make me look for bareMinerals on the skincare aisle, but I probably still won’t know what I’m looking at.

This Old House Magazine

QR Code or MS Tag: MS Tag

The 2D bar code appears on: A sidebar in the editor’s up-front column.

The hook: Watch the video of this month’s Letter from TOH or just go to thisoldhouse.com/watch.

When I click through: Funny story of how the editor thinks his old house might be haunted. He tells the first part of the story in the print article, and encourages readers to click the tag for the rest of the spooky story. I forwarded it onto other people to watch, and I don’t like scary movies.

Verdict: Thumbs up. I like that this video gave a face and a lot of personality to what can be perceived as a not very fun topic, especially for me—home repair. I also like a non-smartphone option to watch the video—not everyone has an iPhone!


QR Code or MS Tag: QR Code

The 2D bar code appears on: Back cover of Lowe’s Creative Ideas direct-mail magazine.

The hook: Sign up for these other great magazines, with images of Weekend Project and Outdoor Living magazines.

When I click thru, it says: Subscribe to Lowe’s Creative Ideas For Home & Garden. Am I subscribing to the magazine I just scanned this tag from? I don’t see signups for Weekend Project or Weekend Project.

Verdict: Thumbs down. While it’s not impossible, filling out an online subscription form on a phone isn’t fun. And if I already have this direct-mail magazine, I probably don’t need to subscribe.


QR Code or MS Tag: MS Tag

The 2D bar code appears on:

The hook: Nothing, really. Just a tag. Don’t know what I’m in for.

When I click through: What kind of girl are you? Website that targets three design styles for girls: Rocker, Glam and Adventure. Click on one, and it shows you their products in that design. Mobile optimized pages make it a lot easier to see what I’m looking at. Click on each product for even more product information on Remington’s site.

Verdict: Thumbs up. This site is really trying to speak to its user and automatically gets her thinking about what type of Remington product fits her best. The site behind this tag gives much more information than the brand could fit in a one-page ad, so that’s effective.

Experience Life Magazine

QR Code or MS Tag: MS Tag

The 2D bar code appears on: A sidebar in a magazine article on the hidden dangers of prescription drugs.

The hook: Get an all-in-one downloadable PDF of articles on interventions for tackling chronic health problems by scanning this barcode with your smartphone.

When I click through: The PDF opened on my phone as one loooong page. Offered to save it in the EverNote app, which also allows me to view on my laptop or desktop. I’d still wouldn’t want to read this much on screen.

Verdict: Thumbs down. 11 articles? To read on my phone? That’s a lot of scrolling and zooming.