TAG! You're it! (Mobile Tagging)


You could be walking down the street, flipping through a magazine or even watching TV and you see them ... odd looking little squares with seemingly random black and white patterns (example pictured at right).


This innocent looking mark is actually an example of a marketing tool known as a QR code, or Quick Response Code. QR codes are one type of barcode used in Mobile Tagging marketing campaigns. They can be scanned using a mobile phone with a camera (and a free QR code reader app) and deliver any number of pieces of data to users, including business cards, URLs, coupons, videos and even links to apps.


Recently, HBO started experimenting with QR Codes on bus stop billboards to promote its new series "Boardwalk Empire." Users discovering the code can click to find the location of a promotional event and get a password for a free drink.


So, if this is still a somewhat experimental marketing tactic, why should QR codes be on your radar? QR code marketing may be an easy way to apply some "out of the box" thinking to engage your community and attract new eyes to your station.

QR codes are becoming more popular, showing up regularly on television commercials, in magazines and other printed ads. As more mainstream media uses QR codes, more individuals become familiar with them. While these users may not be your usual audience, you can take advantage of their location, and their curiosity, to engage them with marketing messages and content.


Some ideas for applying this at the station level:

-          During pledge months, add QR codes in your printed program guide that links to a mobile friendly membership premium page

-          Partner with local businesses or groups display QR codes that link to ad-supported mobile content (museum exhibit placards, event handouts, local tours, community discount partners)

-          Many marketing opportunities (such as direct mailings) are limited by space, QR codes can expand your messaging opportunity


Generating and reading QR codes is free (search: QR code generator and barcode reader app), so it may be low cost way to experiment with reaching an "on the go" audience.

If you have a barcode reader on your mobile phone and want to see QR codes in action, scan the image above for a simple demo. And here are some other interesting ways QR codes have been used (note: external links)


Ralph Lauren Print/Mobile Site Campaign (2008)

Calvin Klein Billboard

The N Building in Japan

Red Energy (Russian energy drink) Urban Scavenger Game

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