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March 2012

Print in the Mix
Triple-Digit Growth in Magazines' Use of Mobile Action Codes

According to “Mobile Action Codes in Magazine Advertising 2011” study, magazines' use of mobile action codes—QR codes, Microsoft Tags and 2D barcodes—that may launch a video, promote a contest, offer a coupon or deliver an interactive shopping experience on a mobile phone, have "exploded" in 2011, rising 439 percent. The study was done by mobile marketing services provider Nellymoser.

Throughout 2011, advertisers overwhelmingly preferred QR codes and Microsoft Tags to other types of action codes, such as SpyderLynk and JagTag. Ninety-seven percent of the action codes printed in the top 100 magazines in Q4 were either QR codes (72 percent) or Microsoft Tags (25 percent). The proportion of QR codes rose 11 percent from 65 percent in Q3, while the proportion of Microsoft Tags fell 17 percent from 30 percent. Digital watermarks first entered the top 100 list in December, which Nellymoser believes to be the beginning of a trend.

Biggest Uses for Action Codes:

• Video (54 percent) and sweepstakes/opt-ins (30 percent) were the biggest uses for action codes. Sharing a video via social media (23 percent), e-commerce (19 percent), and store locator (13 percent) were also popular code uses.

• By Q4, more than two-thirds of all action codes (1,327) were accompanied by information that described what happens after the scan.

• In Q2, 48 percent of all action codes contained an instruction regarding how to download a code reader; in Q4, that dropped to 23 percent. Similarly, in Q2, 17 percent were accompanied by an icon showing a smart phone scanning the code. By Q4, that had dropped to five percent.

• More than 90 percent of action codes were placed on the bottom half of the page, the "traditional location for a call to action."

To read the entire Print in the Mix Fast Fact and other print market research studies, go to Print in the Mix is a free and easily accessible clearinghouse of research on print media effectiveness, published by the Printing Industry Center at RIT and made possible by a grant from The Print Council (

National signage and graphics company Signs By Tomorrow, Columbia, MD, has hired Ron Frost as franchise business consultant for the company's Central region. He is now responsible for assisting in the growth and development of individual franchisees.



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