QR Code

QR Codes

Although Tag barcodes and QR (Quick Response) Codes are distinctly different, people engage with them in the same way, which can sometimes lead to confusion about which app to use for scanning them. In response to feedback from customers and end-users, we now support the creation of QR Codes in the Tag Manager as well as the scanning of QR Codes with the Tag app (whether they were created with Tag Manager or by third-party QR Code generators) and reporting services. This makes Tag the only unified platform that can create, scan, and report on multiple barcode formats.

About QR Codes

QR Codes use a matrix of contrasting dark and light elements, called “modules,” arranged in columns and rows, to convey data. Each module in the matrix represents a 0 or 1. In addition, each QR Code includes position-detection patterns located in three corners, as an orientation reference that allows for scanning from any direction.

There are numerous versions of QR Codes, as the QR designation includes a variety of approaches for encoding data within the barcode matrix. The interpretation of the text is application-specific and very little functionality is universally supported among QR readers. Our goal with respect to the Tag Manager and Tag app is to support the types of QR Codes that are most commonly employed to link users to digital experiences.

With most generators, the size of a displayed QR Code depends on a module size and symbol version. The module refers to the black-and-white dots that make up the QR Code. The symbol version determines the data capacity.

The area of a Version 1 QR Code is comprised of 21 modules per side. Each higher version includes four additional modules per side. A Version 2 QR Code, then, is a 25- by 25-module matrix. The highest version number is Version 40, composed of 40 modules per side. Regardless of version, each QR Code requires a four-module-wide “quiet zone” around the symbol.

Common text-based QR Codes include:
  • Direct URL codes. These contain a URL that open a web page when scanned.

  • Text codes. These contain a simple text string that should be displayed to the user.

  • Proprietary indirect codes. These codes are only designed to work with proprietary barcode systems and contain an identifier and other information rather than a URL. The Tag app will not support the reading of these codes since they are only supported by proprietary readers.

Creating QR Codes in Tag Manager

When creating an item in the Tag Manager, the user has the option of creating a QR Code rather than a Tag barcode. The QR Code will include a Microsoft Tag URL that will cause all scans (regardless of reader) to hit the Tag resolution service, so that creators can get reporting and analytics on their scans. If a campaign uses both Tag barcodes and QR Codes for the same item, marketers can get detail from the Scan Data API or Microsoft Tag Dashboard reporting tools to identify which of the scans came from each recognition technology type.

You can create QR Codes in Tag Manager that open a webpage, dial a phone number, see a text message, open a vCard, or download a mobile app.

Tag barcode, however, retain the key advantage that they can be customized with color and images, while QR Codes cannot. Tag Manager does not support any “customization” of QR Codes as they can’t be customized without affecting their readability.

Users can create up to 5,000 QR Codes at one time using the Tag Creation API. Read more about the Creation API.

Scanning QR Codes

The end-user can scan the most common QR Codes using the Tag app, whether they were created with the Tag Manager or by other QR Code generators. There is no distinct QR Code mode for the Tag app; the viewfinder will identify and decode both Tag barcodes and QR Codes automatically. All scans are added to the scan history and redirected and logged through Tag’s resolution service.

Some things to note:

1. Third-party QR Codes that launch to a URL will be added to the history in Tag app.

2. Third-party QR Codes that are not launched to a URL (i.e., a vCard) will display content in a basic HTML page, but will not log into the history and cannot be shared using the Tag app.

3. Anything logged in the history is flaggable.

4. Once a third-party QR Code is logged into the history it will display the Page Title instead of the URL.


QR Codes created by third-party platforms will not have metadata associated with them. In such cases, Tag app will display a default icon and create a Title using the webpage title.

If the metadata does not return an image thumbnail, the default trigger type will display:


If there is no connectivity the No Connectivity icon will display:


Additional scanning considerations

Tag app will only scan QR Codes using our Android, iPhone, and Windows Phone apps (Windows Phone relying on Bing Visual Search technology). QR Codes created in the Tag Manager behave just like a Tag barcode when scanned with the Microsoft Tag app, supporting such key features as Real Time Location, Device ID, automatic add to address book, and history information, allowing you to deliver customized content based on your customer’s location and frequency of scanning. QR Codes created in the Tag Manager and scanned by a third-party reader application, however, do not deliver these features. Instead, they behave like a URL barcode and open the third-party experience. For non-URL QR Codes (such as vCards), the reader will display all data contained in the QR Code in an HTML page.

Our Scanning SDK will not support QR Code reading for any of the supported platforms. Read more about our Scanning SDK here.


Tag Reports collect the full complement of available data when QR Codes that have been generated using Tag Manager are scanned with the Tag app.

For scans that are made with third-party readers, we will provide reporting on the total number of scans, but cannot provide insight into any in-app tracking, such as sharing. Reporting is visible from Tag Manager Reports, our Scan Data API, or the Microsoft Tag Dashboard.


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