Why Tablets Will Boost Mobile Tagging

Patrick Donnelly
Friday, Mar 25, 2011 at 7:00 AM



The front-facing cameras in the second generation of tablets such as iPad 2, Xoom, and Tab allows users to interact with mobile barcodes, perhaps for the first time if they had been resistant to browsing the web on a smartphone.


The main commentary of mobile barcode scanning has been around mobile user experiences (UX) – in particular, the importance of such experiences both adding value through content and rendering that content appropriate for small screens. Tablets, like smartphones, will be able to interact with printed campaigns via QR codes and Microsoft Tags, but with a much larger screen. For web-enabled tablets, this presents an opportunity for the integration of print and web and opens a new modality for social discourse. In this way, you could argue that rather than antiquate printed media, tablets now enhance the value of printed communication by interacting with it rather than making it obsolete. The larger screen in essence allows for mobile tagging to reach its full potential – to connect people to brands through a great user experience.


Imagine scanning a Tag from a magazine and receiving the article you were reading – plus a sidebar with live augmented comments and related marketing content. Another option is that the entire user interface is only sidebar content – a user still reads the paper but can view a Twitter feed, related articles, or poll results on the tablet as a second surface. At a minimum, the use of enriched additional content could allow for interactive linkages and Facebook sharing, but there are many user experiences that one could design to benefit readers, advertisers, and other stakeholders.


Photo galleries, video content, multimedia, real-time polling, and comments are just the beginning of how printed media could rethink content to work in spaces between print and the tablet screen. Future steps could include customizing ad content with geocentric data and utilizing 2D augmented reality (AR) markers to make certain elements 3D rendered.


In terms of adoption, the appeal of 2D barcodes in providing contextual content on demand will still be as confusing and appealing to those who currently subscribe to each camp, but the larger screen size is very relevant. It makes things easier to see, but also makes people feel comfortable with consuming and interacting with information because the size of the tablet is similar to other objects they would hold and use.


When people are more comfortable with a screen, they will consider using it more often and in greater depth. Deeper experiences allow for more time to interact with a brand, and for better graphic design – allowing typography and layouts to become more user-friendly and dynamic to better communicate an ever-changing media landscape. If this small amount of extra screen real estate entices the viewer to interact in ways they feel they cannot on a small smartphone, these same people will be more inclined click on a mobile coupon, make a donation on the go, or view a video.


I predict that 2D barcode scanners will become the must-have app for all tablet users, increasing the visibility of 2D barcodes in print media. But this forecast is reliant on print media embracing, not just dabbling in, mobile barcodes and meeting the consumer at the point of opportunity.


What do you think? Are there more Tag ideas that get better with tablets? Let us know in the comments below or on Tag’s Facebook or Twitter pages.


This piece originally appeared on QrArts. Patrick Donnelly is the president of QrArts, an integrated media consulting agency out of Washington, D.C., that specializes in mobile user experience with respect to mobile tagging and 2D barcodes. QrArts creates brand engagement strategies that help move consumers from impressions to interactions, specializing in the design and implementation of Microsoft Tag and QR code campaigns.


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