news from the intersection of branding & technology

A Snappy Approach to Mobile Advertising

In brand-building, mobile & tablets, Shopper Marketing on October 5, 2011 at 10:07 am

by Jeff Sandgren

Quiz: What innovative 2-D tag image solution was used in these advertising campaigns this summer?

  • Ocean Spray, in their cross-country mobile sampling tour
  • Toyota Motors’ ToyoTag, to “move the consumer closer to the transaction”
  • Gap, in Glamour Magazine (right on the cover, next to Rihanna’s … personality)
  • Office Depot’s nationwide back-to-school promotion offering $500,000 in mobile gift cards
  • Wrigley’s Orbit gum back-to-school in 100 million packages of gum
  • Bud Light’s “Ultimate Fan Experience” promotion
  • Casa Noble Tequila and Bar Louie restaurants offer chances at tickets to a Santana concert
  • Chivas Regal’s “Brotherhood” campaign

If you answered Quick Response (“QR”) Codes, or the more colorful Microsoft Tags, you’re wrong.  The correct answer is SnapTags, a solution offered by SpyderLynk, a mobile activation and marketing platform company.

This could be mobile marketing’s worst kept secret.  While Quick Response codes seem to dominate the news, and Microsoft Tags fight for a share of media attention, SpyderLynk continues to build up an ever-growing stable of successful campaigns.  And there are two good reasons why.

The first, from a brand point of view, is looks.  QR codes are functionally nifty, but they’re ugly … by design.  They were developed by the Denso Wave Company as a better way to track car parts, with more information than traditional ‘striped’ 1D barcodes.  Nicole Skogg, SpyderLynk’s Founder and CEO, is also the inventor of the SnapTag, which feat she performed before she’d even heard of a QR code, so the whole angle of approach is different, coming from a visual, brand-friendly starting point.  Where the visual appeal matters (e.g. Rihanna on Glamour), the choice of a simple, attractive logo with a surrounding circle, rather than the black and white QR checkerboard, has better brand appeal.

The second reason for SnapTag’s success, from an advertising effectiveness standpoint, is reach.  At issue is the question of how many cell phones are “feature phones” (cell phones with cameras) versus how many are “smart phones” (iPhones, Androids, etc.), which matters because SpyderLynk’s SnapTags work with both, so they simply cast a wider marketing net.  Two equally credible reports came up with different answers this summer.  Nielsen finds that 40% are smartphones vs. 60% feature phones.  The report from comScore found an even smaller slice for smartphones, at around 35%.  SnapTags can potentially be “read” by virtually all of these devices.

Smartphone adoption is growing, but the numbers for now still give feature phones the majority.  On top of that, comScore also found only 6.2% of mobile phone users actually scanned a QR code in the most recent test period.  Here in the US, camera phone users can use a service from another company, Scanlife, to send a photo of a QR code via MMS to a special number, where a server decodes it and sends back an SMS message with the web link or other info that the user can then input to get more content.  Did that sound too involved to you?  Precisely the point.

We spoke on two separate occasions with Nicole Skogg, SpyderLynk’s Founder/CEO and Jane McPherson, SpyderLynk’s CMO, who have had a great view of the development of this new solution over the past few years.  We wondered, would the trend in QR adoption make it easier or harder for SpyderLynk?

Jane prioritizes brand strategy over technology:  “The bigger questions should be, are brands really giving consumers a reason to use them?”

“There’s a bit of risk,” Jane explained.  “If everyone throws QR codes on everything without offering consumers value beyond a web connection, will it turn consumers off?  Right now there’s still a novelty factor, but marketers are going to have think more carefully about the best times, places, and ways to use mobile activation codes.  We try to focus our clients on really meeting a market need.”

According to Nicole, “We’re moving into a Marketing 3.0 landscape.  Consumer-driven conversations are the next phase, an ongoing, on-demand dialogue with the brand.  It’s about brands getting close to consumers, and to their decision-making process.”

Adoption by brand marketers has come in waves, according to Jane.  “Traditional advertising was the first big wave, then event marketing, now retailers.  We’re finding that shopper marketers are focusing more on purchase consideration, rather than just dropping brand and awareness.  Their focus is on helping consumers in making a purchasing decision.  HP is doing a good job of serving short videos to help them answer questions about products.  For Coors, sweepstakes still work, because that’s a high engagement brand.  It varies by product.”

An interesting example of on-package marketing with SnapTags is the recent work of Colorado Native, a brand of AC Golden (MillerCoors) that’s marketed locally in the Rocky Mountain state.  According to Jane, they put SnapTags on their bottles.  Participating consumers are first “age-gated”, then drawn into a back and forth dialogue with trivia, polling questions, and social networking.

“They are doing a great job of crafting campaigns that drive loyalty in the marketplace.  Colorado Native contributes a portion of all sales to a charity. Right now, if you snap and send (with your cell phone camera) the SnapTag engagement lets the consumer decide which charity.  Now the consumer feels connected.  Colorado Native has also become arbiters of event news.  So they ask via SnapTag conversations: what events do you care about?  Consumers choose the event, and they send out messages about the appropriate events.  Their SnapTag community is as big as or bigger than their Facebook community.”

SnapTags were also used to clever effect in DVD launches, like Warner Brothers’ “Inception” and Sony Pictures’ “This Is It”.  Ah, but show business has a way of drawing the unwary into its web.  Nicole’s innovations were recently honored by The Producers Guild of America, in association with Variety, who chose her as one of the 2011 “Digital 25” Leaders in Emerging Entertainment.  That puts her in the heady company of Lady Gaga.  We’ll be looking for her first SnapTag tattoo soon.  -JTS

Editor’s Note, March 2012:  We learned from a David Alex that there might be some name confusion.  In the completely-unrelated world of biological research, a Professor Kai Johnsson developed ‘novel tools to study protein functions’ and calls the technology a SNAP-tag.   Spyderlynk’s mobile marketing technology is called a SnapTag and enables marketers to offer consumers the opportunity to activate commerce, social, promotional and couponing campaigns from any location. Nicole Skogg, the founder of SpyderLynk invented and patented the SnapTag.  We are not sure she how much she knows about protein functions … but she is a wiz at mobile technologies and marketing platforms.  Thanks, David, for helping with disambiguation.

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  1. […] SpyderLynk CMO Jane McPherson has noted, the challenge is getting consumers to use them, and benefit from the experience: “If […]

  2. […] make this strategy effective without offending your audience. As SpyderLynk CMO Jane McPherson has noted, the challenge is getting consumers to use them, and benefit from the experience: “If […]

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