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Mobile Technology : Integrating Mobile into Print

May 2012 By Bryan Yeager

Mobile technology is at the center of a communication revolution that is sweeping almost every society around the world, including the United States. These devices are changing the way we live and work. People now walk around with powerful, highly capable computers that fit in the palm of their hand and that can provide instant access to information via the Internet, as well as hundreds of thousands of mobile apps. Mobile phone owners are keeping in touch with friends and family by sending trillions of text messages per year, with teenagers sending thousands of text messages per month. 

To stay connected, many Americans own a variety of devices that serve multiple purposes, driving penetration of mobile subscriptions to exceed 100 percent of the U.S. population, according to CTIA. In a nutshell, mobile phones are 21st-century Swiss Army knives that can do everything short of opening a wine bottle.

Despite the ongoing mobile revolution, traditional media remains, and will continue to remain, an important aspect of everyday life. Businesses are diversifying their marketing with the use of online, social and mobile channels; however, print media remains a strong component in that overall mix. 

Why? Because it works. Print can make an instant first impression anywhere: in the mailbox, at home or at work, on the street, at the supermarket and in many other environments. Its analog nature makes it visible and accessible to everyone.

Print Becomes Interactive

Mobile technology opens the door to make print and other media types measurable, interactive and engaging through the use of mobile barcodes (QR Codes, Microsoft Tags and more), mobile messaging and even Augmented Reality. Over the past few years, InfoTrends has been tracking the increase of these mobile elements being integrated with traditional media. 


InfoTrends Mobil Technology study
[+] click to enlarge
In September 2011, we launched an extensive study to understand the dynamics of this trend across consumer, marketer and print service provider audiences. The result is “Mobile Technology: Making Print Interactive,” an extensive study that sheds light on how these various mobile technologies can be effectively integrated with print and other media types to bridge the gap between the physical and digital worlds.


More than 1,100 consumers were surveyed as part of this study to understand their level of awareness, perceptions and, ultimately, what drives them to interact with different types of “mobile response mechanisms.” Among consumers, awareness of mobile barcodes (also referred to as mobile response codes, action codes, or simply mobile codes) is particularly high: 84.6 percent of respondents reported familiarity with the technology. 

Mobile messaging also has high awareness among consumers, with close to 70 percent indicating familiarity. For the unfamiliar, mobile messaging is based on SMS (text) or MMS (multimedia) messaging technology where an opt-in relationship is activated by a consumer, often through the use of Common Short Codes (for instance, “Text SAVE to 55555 to opt in”).

Furthermore, marketers are increasingly active in utilizing the mobile channel to reach their target audiences in new and different ways, especially when integrating mobile with print. Our study revealed a 194 percent year-over-year growth of marketers using mobile barcodes from 2010 to 2011. These codes are being integrated with brochures, direct mail, magazines, catalogs and many other print applications. While adoption is lower for mobile messaging and Augmented Reality, these technologies are also being integrated with traditional media to prompt interactivity and engagement.

Marketers and advertisers have certainly done a good job at raising the awareness level of these technologies among consumers, but our study also finds that interaction with mobile barcodes and other mobile response technologies is markedly lower. Only about 24.2 percent of consumers familiar with mobile codes had ever interacted with one, signaling that there are clear barriers to interaction that exist with these technologies.

First and foremost, consumers report simply not knowing how to interact with the mobile codes as a top inhibitor; clear instructions and interaction prompts can help lower that barrier. In addition, we find that offer relevance is an inhibitor to interaction across all technology types. Companies need to align their use and placement of offers with the targeted audience to ensure a higher degree of interaction. Ultimately, marketing fundamentals do not go out the window when using mobile response technology—a valuable offer, strong call-to-action, creativity, and a streamlined experience all need to be in the mix to ensure success.

Way to Overcome Commodity Trap

Print service providers have a tremendous opportunity to provide value to clients trying to integrate mobile into their print applications, opening up new doors to higher profit margins. According to marketer respondents that are currently using mobile barcodes in their campaigns, commercial printers are the top external resource used when executing these integrated campaigns.

Printers have a unique opportunity to help marketers leverage mobile technology that is being integrated with print and other media types. There is a need, however, to look beyond mobile barcodes to expand, enhance and diversify service offerings for clients.

Furthermore, while there are many print service providers already offering services related to mobile response technology, many need to be more strategic with their approach. Simply adding a code for the purpose of adding interactivity is not enough to drive response. Campaign strategy, management and analytics are required for effective participation in the mobile value chain. For some printers, areas like data analytics and optimizing content for mobile require further improvement. A more robust suite of offerings helps drive ROI and delivers more accurate results to clients, ensuring that a high-quality, accountable campaign or program is being conducted.

Ultimately, marketers are looking for tools, technologies and strategies that will help them drive revenue for their companies and provide a rich experience for target audiences. Many marketers continue to use traditional media to that end, but more measurability is needed as the pressure for more accountability from the Chief Marketing Officer persists.

Mobile response technology fills this gap, adding interactivity and on-the-go connectivity for consumers, while providing marketers and service providers with more concrete data about media effectiveness. Mobile is only going to become more important in consumers’ lives, and getting started with mobile marketing has never been easier. Now is the time to start integrating mobile technology with print and other media types. PI

About the Author
Bryan Yeager is an associate director for InfoTrends’ Production Workflow & Custom Communications Service. Yeager covers a number of existing and emerging software and technology markets including printing, publishing and cross-media marketing. He is the author of several in-depth Ultimate Guide reports that span across a variety of software categories. E-mail



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