Mobile Marketing Software Showdown

Written by Michael Whittington

QR codes may be the king of the castle, but there have been several uprisings in its kingdom. A handful of mobile marketing solutions have appeared to try to usurp the throne. As commander of mobile marketing strategies I shall now analyze each of their strengths and weaknesses. Oh how I love extended metaphors.

Data Matrix

Many companies are choosing to use Data Matrix for their mobile marketing campaigns. Data Matrix is like the older, more well-rounded but much less talented older brother of QR codes. What do I mean by this? Data Matrix is actually older than QR codes by about five years and it uses precisely the same technology. The copyright has since been bought out by Siemens. At its core it’s a 2D barcode. However, the few years betwixt (I will use outdated language whenever I darn well please) the invention and integration of the two mobile marketing platforms has given QR codes a bit of a technological upper hand. Data Matrix can only hold 2335 alphanumeric characters while QR codes can store up to 4296. QR codes are also compatible with Kanji characters, hence their popularity in Japan. So why would anyone choose to use this model when they could be generating QR codes? One reason is that Data Matrix codes have better password security. Their error correction capabilities also exceed quick response codes slightly (by about 3%). Take a look at this PDF or scroll down this article about halfway if you’re interested in the more technical aspects of Data Matrix Codes.

Microsoft “MS” Tags

Unlike Data Matrix, MS Tags were introduced after QR codes. With the knowledge that they would be competing with a fairly established mobile marketing solution, they were promoted with that idea in mind. Microsoft has been working their hardest to make QR codes seem basic so that they can stress how flexible their mobile marketing platform is. Admittedly MS tags are more colorful and more customizable, but getting them to look the way you want takes more graphic design skill than your average promoter has. What makes them worse is that while most QR readers can scan Data Matrix too, there is only one app available that can scan MS Tags and it is Microsoft’s own. This is creating friction in the industry and while a little friendly competition never hurt anyone, inconsistent support, in this case, is hurting all parties. Some people feel that not having a single “sure thing” mobile marketing solution, they will avoid the technology altogether. Can MS Tags kill the QR code? Possibly, but if it does there is a realistic chance it will do so on a suicide mission and take itself out just the same.

Near Field Communication

The third and final vagrant I shall be taking a look at today is Near Field Communication, otherwise known as NFC. While both Data Matrix and MS Tags use 2D barcode technology for mobile media marketing, NFC is a new technology in and of itself. The mobile marketing platform was developed by Philips in conjunction with Sony and Nokia. Instead of scanning a code, NFC requires users to simply hold their phone a certain distance from a special microchip-bearing tag. It is a competitor, however, when you consider the why instead of the how. Both scanning a code and speaking to a tag will allow a phone to visit a website or display a message. Of course the benefit here is that it is unnecessary to scan a code. In my personal opinion, the hindrances far outweigh the benefits. Firstly, NFC requires electronic technology in every tag. Granted those chips can fit anywhere, but they are not as easy, nor nearly as cheap to make as generating a QR code. Secondly, in order for a phone to scan NFC, it needs to have its own chip built in. It will take some time before a reasonable number of smartphone users have a phone with the chip installed considering even today many of the phones being produced do not support the mobile marketing strategy. Finally there is the issue of proximity. Generally speaking a phone needs to be no more than four centimeters away from a NFC tag to read it. Therefore they can’t exist on billboards or any other place where they might be read from a distance.

Which mobile marketing solution will make it out of this battle alive? Only time and a handful of successful mobile marketing campaigns can help determine the victor. In the mean time you can choose which to fight alongside by including them as part of your mobile marketing strategies. Which mobile marketing platform will you choose?

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