Q. What is Microsoft Tag, and how does it work?
Microsoft Tag is an end-to-end marketing solution that allows you to make your offline materials interactive. It includes support for several mobile recognition technologies, including Tag barcodes, QR Codes, and NFC. Each recognition technology allows you to automatically launch experiences using your smartphone. Tags can be printed or displayed on almost any physical object and link to information, entertainment, and interactive experiences in the digital world. Q. What are each of Tag’s recognition technologies and how do they work?
You scan Tag barcodes, QR Codes, and NFC touchpoints with a free mobile application called the Microsoft Tag app, which is available for most smartphones (capabilities vary by phone platform, see supported devices). The Tag app seamlessly connects to the internet to retrieve and display the associated content. It can take you to a website, show a video, download another app, add contacts to your address book, or dial a phone number. You don’t need to type a long URL, send a text message, or search the web; scanning Tag barcodes, QR Codes, or an NFC touchpoint instantly displays all the relevant information on your mobile phone.
On some phones, you just point your camera at the Tag barcode or QR Code and the Tag app automatically recognizes and scans the barcode. On other phones, you focus the camera on the Tag barcode or QR Code and then click. With NFC, you merely tap your NFC-enabled phone to the NFC touchpoint to open the mobile experience. The Tag app requires an internet connection and your phone’s normal data charges apply.
The Tag solution supports Tag barcodes, QR Codes, and NFC technology. All will allow you to link to a website, download another app, add contacts to your address book, dial a phone number, or display a free message. Q. Does it cost money to use Microsoft Tag?
Tag barcodes offer an attractive, customizable, and flexible 2D barcode solution for your marketing campaigns. They can be customized to match your brand and blend smoothly into your packaging and campaign materials. Tag barcodes also offer extremely reliable scanning under adverse conditions.
In addition, we also offer the ability to create QR Codes using the Tag Manager. The benefits of Tags over QR Codes – including customization, robust analytics, (generally) smaller size, and more reliable scanning – are still true; however, QR Codes are a popular 2D barcoding solution in market today and we understand there may be instances where brands have made a commitment to using them.
Near field communication (NFC) allows for transactions, data exchange and wireless connections between two devices. NFC is comprised of a sensor that is placed on a physical object. Users are able to connect to your mobile content just by tapping the NFC touchpoint with their phone. Microsoft Tag added NFC to their suite of recognition technologies to give brands more options when implementing campaigns and to offer consumers one single app that allows for several different experiences.
Q. How does Microsoft get paid for this? What services
will be made available when a premium version is released?
Tag's basic services are free and will remain free throughout the life of the product.
- Creating standard and custom color and black-and-white Tags.
- Linking a Tag to a URL, vCard, phone number, or text message when
scanned by the Tag app on supported mobile devices.
- Use of the Creation API to access the Tag-related features listed above.
- Generating Tags in a variety of formats, such as .pdf, .wmf, .jpeg, .png, .gif,
- Identifying each unique device that scans your Tag.
- Viewing limited online reports that show the total number of scans for each Tag.
In the future, we may charge for certain enhanced features, but these basic features
will remain free. Please see the Microsoft
Tag Service and Tag Creation API Agreement for more details.
While there are no charges to install or use the Microsoft Tag app, note that the
Tag app uses the phone’s data plan, and customers may want to dial phone numbers
or send emails or text messages while using the Tag app; standard carrier rates
for their mobile phone plan will apply to these actions.
Currently, all Tag services are available at no cost, and creating basic Tags will
always be free for the life of the service. While we are not announcing specifics
at this time, there will be both free and revenue-generating options for participants
in the future.
Q. When you release your premium version what happens
to the basic service?
Tag's basic services as described in our
service. We will use commercially reasonable efforts to make these basic features
available until at least January 1, 2015, and provide two years’ prior notice before
we terminate the basic features or the entire Microsoft Tag service. Q. What uptime do you guarantee on your service?
We provide the service as-is and cannot guarantee an uptime. However, we can tell
you that our average uptime is 99.5%. Our operations team provides 24x7x365 support
of the environment, with expected response times within 30 minutes and typically
less than 10-15 minutes. Q. Where is your service hosted, and how scalable is
We host our platform infrastructure at a highly secure Microsoft data center in
the United States. This data center allows us to scale as needed, and offers both
redundancy and mirroring of our platform worldwide. Q. How secure is the Tag Manager system? How do you protect my account information?
We make use of the Windows Live ID (WLID) system, which follows Microsoft's industry-leading
here. Please check this link for any future updates to the Agreement, which
governs the use of the Microsoft Tag app.
Q. What types of phones will Tag app work with?
The Microsoft Tag app is available for most smartphones and many feature phones.
It is supported on Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, J2ME, Symbian, Windows Mobile, and
Windows Phone 7 phones. Your phone needs a camera and it must have internet access.
View the list of supported
devices. New phones will be added over time. Q. Does the Tag app now read QR Codes?
Tag barcodes and QR Codes can be scanned using the updated Tag app for iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone 7.5. NFC will be initially available on NFC-enabled Android devices.
The updated Tag app for iPhones, Androids, and Windows Phone 7.5 reads all QR Codes created on the Tag platform using Tag Manager and virtually all standard QR Codes created by third parties. Q. Why is Tag adding QR Codes to its recognition technologies?
Microsoft Tag is adding QR Code support to address consumer feedback that they want one reader for both formats. The benefits of Tag barcodes over QR Codes – including customization, smaller size, and more reliable scanning – are still true; however, now we are giving Tag users the ability to scan the two commonly used 2D barcode formats from one reader. Q. How well does the Tag app read a QR Code?
Barring adverse environmental conditions and depending on the model of your mobile device, QR Codes created on the Tag platform will reliably scan with the Tag app. These same codes are also designed to be read when scanned with third-party apps. Q. Does the Tag app work on tablets?
Yes, the Tag app is available in the iPhone and Android marketplaces and is compatible
with tablets, including iPads. Q. How do I get started scanning Tags?
You just have to download the free Tag app on your web-enabled camera phone. The
Tag app is available for download to your mobile device at http://gettag.mobi. You can also visit the Tag app download page or your smartphone’s mobile marketplace for
other download options. Q. What type of recognition technologies does the Tag app now recognize?
After you’ve downloaded the Tag app, you can scan any Tag you see to interact with
the world around you in new ways. If you have trouble obtaining the Tag app or experience
any problems when downloading, please email email@example.com.
The Tag app for iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone 7.5 now recognizes and reads Microsoft Tags, QR Codes, and NFC on supported devices. Q. How does the Tag app work with each recognition technology?
The Tag app for Windows Phone 7, Windows Mobile, BlackBerry, Symbian, and J2ME will continue to read Tag barcodes.
The Tag app will continue to provide the same great experience of scanning Tag barcodes that we’ve had in the past. Simply open the Tag app, touch the Scan button, hover your mobile phone’s camera over the Tag, and it will resolve to the mobile experience. Q. Why is the option to text a short code to receive a download link for the Tag App no longer available?
QR Codes will be scanned in much of the same way, whether they are QR Codes created using our Tag Manager or by other third-party generators.
NFC is even easier. When using your NFC-enabled Android device, simply tap your phone to the NFC touchpoint and the mobile experience will open. The Tag app will open automatically once it determines the Tag NFC URL, linking you to the intended mobile content.
That option was removed due to low volume usage and shifting priorities to meet customer requests; however, the free Tag app can easily be downloaded by visiting http://gettag.mobi on your mobile phone browser, or by searching for “Tag Reader” or “Tag app” in your mobile app store. Q. How can I update an older version of Tag app?
If you have an older version of the Tag app installed on your phone, you can obtain the updated version by visiting http://gettag.mobi on your device that will have the most recent bits available for download. You can also find the most recent version in the Android, iPhone, and Windows Phone 7 marketplaces. Windows Phone 7.5 users can scan Tag barcodes and QR Codes using the Bing Visual Search functionality that is built into their operating system. If you have trouble obtaining the Tag app or experience any problems when downloading, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Q. Is the Tag app available in my language?
The Tag app is currently available for download in the following languages: English,
French, Italian, Simplified Chinese, Spanish, and Turkish. In addition, the Tag
app is available in Korean for iPhones only. We may have the Tag app available in
other languages in future releases. Q. How much space does the Tag app take on my phone?
The storage size is different for each phone, but the Tag app is small, typically
occupying 300-600 KB of storage space. Q. Where can I use Tag?
You can scan Tags anywhere using internet-enabled mobile devices that have the Tag app installed.
Tag publishers should use Tags in accordance with their specific country’s law and
regulations per the Microsoft Tag Terms
of Use Agreement. Q. When I scan a Tag, what information does Microsoft
The Tag service does not collect Personally Identifiable Information (PII) when
you scan a Tag. It collects scan data, including location information, mobile device
model and OS information, number of times the Tag is scanned, and the date of the
scan. You have the option of disabling the real-time location data transfer through
the Tag app settings.
Q. Will retailers and other businesses have access
to my personal data once I scan a Tag? Do I have to worry about being added to mailing
The Microsoft Tag system does not transmit personal data to Tag creators. Tag creators will only get your personal information if you later choose to give it to them. Scanning Tag barcodes, QR Codes, or tapping an NFC touchpoint does not send your mobile telephone number, your name, or your email address to Microsoft or to the creator of the Tag recognition technology. Companies or organizations using Tag may separately ask you for this contact or other identifying information. If you choose to provide this information, Tag creators may be able to identify you when you scan any of their other Tag barcodes, QR Codes, or NFC URLs. Q. Do you offer a scanning SDK to allow third parties to utilize Tag scanning technology in their mobile apps?
When you scan a Tag barcode, QR Code, or tap an NFC touchpoint, you have the option (on some phones) of allowing the location where you scanned the Tag to be sent to Microsoft. This information might be shared with the Tag creator so that the Tag creator may use it to customize the data you see.
For more information about how Tag handles your personal data, see the Microsoft Online Privacy Statement and the Microsoft Tag App (Tag Reader) Privacy Supplement.
Yes, we are proud to offer the Tag Scanning SDK that allows partners to embed the Tag scanning technology into their own mobile apps. The SDK will read Tag barcodes. The SDK is available for iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone 7.5. The SDK is free to use, but does require the acquisition of a test key to start. To learn more about our SDK program and to apply for your test key, please visit Scanning SDK
Q. What can I do with Microsoft Tag?
Videos, contests, and special offers are the most popular uses, but the possibilities
are endless. Every Tag is an invitation to try, discover, share, save, and do more.
In advertisements, signage, magazine articles, retail shelving, product packaging,
and storefronts, Tag opens up new opportunities to engage your customers on their
smartphones and bridge the divide between the physical and digital worlds. For example,
you can create Tags that instantly link customers to your website, provide timely
information on products or services you're selling, offer coupons and exclusive
discounts at the time of purchase, and much more. Q. How can I use Tags for my business?
Tag makes it easy for you and your customers to take action “in the moment,” when
they are most interested. Put Tags on your packaging, your storefront, your print
ads. Add them to product shelving, coupons, concert posters, or museum exhibits.
Microsoft Tag helps you build connections with your customers, and lets you reach
more people, more frequently, using the one thing they carry everywhere: their mobile
phone. Q. How does Tag make my offline marketing more effective?
Check out our IdeaBook and Success Stories for more inspiration.
Microsoft Tag connects your offline marketing to digital experiences that make it
more engaging, more measurable, and more fun. Tag provides analytics that make it
easy to measure the effectiveness of your campaign, informing your marketing strategies
and helping you make smart decisions about your marketing strategy. And Tag barcodes work
with all media, from newspaper ads to billboards to video. Q. How do I get started creating my own Tags?
It’s quick and easy. We suggest you begin by reviewing the Tag Manager Help and the Tag Implementation Guide for detailed instructions on creating
and using Tags. Then sign into Tag Manager and try making your own. The Tag Manager online
service is completely self-service, and enables you to create and manage standard
or custom Tags in just a few minutes. Q. Can I create my own Tags or will I need third party
Tags are quick and easy to create on your own. The
Tag Manager is an online service that is completely self-service. It takes
just a minute or two to create your own standard or custom Tags. However, if you
would like help creating and managing Tags and creating mobile sites, contact one
of our solution providers who specialize in mobile tagging.
Q. Is your website including the Tag Manager offered in any other languages?
At this time http://tag.microsoft.com is offered in an English UI only. We have no current plans for adding additional languages. Q. Why should I use the Microsoft Tag platform to create 2D barcodes?
There are many reasons. Tag, for starters, allows you to dynamically change your data source behind Tag barcodes, QR Codes, and NFC URLs that are created using the Tag Manager – unlike other 2D barcodes that are associated with a single, permanent URL and can’t be modified once they're created. This means that the content behind any of Tag’s recognition technologies can be updated as frequently as you like, allowing you to fine-tune and refresh campaign materials without having to change the printed Tag barcode, QR Code, or NFC touchpoint in any way. Q. If a Tag app scans a QR Code will I be able to access the analytics?
Our testing shows, too, that Tags can be reproduced at much smaller sizes than third-party QR Codes without any loss in readability, so you can display Tag barcodes created with Tag Manager in situations where QR Codes simply won't fit. In addition, free reporting and analytics tools built in to Tag Manager give you insight into where and how frequently all of Tag’s recognition technologies are being scanned.
The Tag app is the main 2D barcode reader in market that reads the most popular 2D barcode formats, giving your customers the ability to consume all of your mobile content with the ease of a single reader. Our SDK partners are also able to provide Tag barcode scanning within their apps.
Analytics are available for all QR Codes that are created on the Tag platform and scanned with the Tag app. We will also show scan counts for QR Codes created on the Tag platform that are scanned with the Tag app. However, not all data will be available for QR Codes created by third parties that are scanned by the Tag app. Q. Can I use your Real Time Location and Device ID features with QR Codes and NFC?
Our Real Time Location and Device ID features will work for QR Codes and NFC URLs that are created using Tag Manager and scanned using the Tag app. If your QR Code is scanned using a third-party app, we cannot guarantee that these features will work. For this reason, if you have a mobile experience that is dependent on Real Time Location or Device ID data, we recommend that you use a Tag barcode, which will return the expected result. Users on Windows Phone 7.5 devices may not get the expected Real Time Location or Device ID experience. Q. How much data can each Tag barcode hold?
The Tag technology doesn’t code data in the Tag itself. Instead, scanning a Tag
opens the mobile phone’s browser and connects to the experience you’ve created,
which is stored on the Microsoft servers. We encrypt the content to ensure the security
of your information. Q. How much data can QR Codes created in Tag Manager hold?
A QR Code created on the Tag platform can hold as much data as a Tag barcode. Q. How do I build customized Tag barcodes? Is there a fee?
You can create custom Tag barcodes for free. You can customize Tags by incorporating
your logo, photographs, maps, drawings, or other images. See our detailed instructions
for creating custom Tags in the Tag Implementation Guide. Q. Can I update the content behind Tag’s QR Codes and NFC URLs like I can with Tag barcodes?
Yes, all of Tag’s recognition technologies, Tag barcodes, QR Codes, and NFC URLs, can be updated at any time without impacting the code or NFC touchpoint. This allows you to update content on the fly to respond to campaign performance, or update information to keep evergreen materials fresh. Q. What content is stored on your servers?
To modify your Tag barcode, QR Code, or NFC URL, log into Tag Manager, select which item you would like to edit, modify the content, and select save. The content is updated immediately, letting you manage your campaign in near real-time.
Q. When a user scans one of the Tag recognition technologies, what information can I obtain about him or her?
The content we store is dependent on the type of Tag:
- URL Tag: we store the URL address
- Free Text Tag: we store the text content
- Dialer Tag: we store the phone number
- vCard Tag: we store the contact information
- App Download Tag: we store the URL location for the app in the appropriate mobile
We also store the specified start and end dates for all Tags.
The Tag service does not collect Personally Identifiable Information (PII) when you scan a Tag barcode, QR Code, or tap an NFC touchpoint. It collects scan data, including location information, mobile device model and OS information, number of times the item is scanned, and the date of the scan. The consumer has the option to disable the real-time-location data transfer through the Tag app settings. Q. How do I create destination URLs to each of the app stores for the App Download?
The process is different for each marketplace or app store; see our App Download Tag documentation for complete details. Once you've
created links for your application in the app stores, you can enter those destination
URLs into Tag Manager. Q. Can I use Tag to connect my print campaign with my in-store execution?
Absolutely. Check out our IdeaBook and
Success Stories for ideas that can help you make the most of your print
and in-store marketing campaigns with Microsoft Tag. Q. Can Tag’s recognition technologies be used on video displays?
Definitely! Microsoft Tag barcodes and QR Codes are optimized for both print and flat-panel displays. However, depending on the phone used, Tag barcodes and QR Codes may not scan reliably from CRT-based displays. Q. Can Tag barcodes and QR Codes be scanned from billboards or other outdoor advertisements?
NFC touchpoints cannot be used on electronic displays.
Yes, provided the Tag barcode or QR Code is large enough and adequately lit to be scanned from a distance. Q. Will Microsoft cover the cost of back-end development?
Microsoft Tag service does not include the digital experience the Tag points to,
but we have strong relationships with several
solution providers that we can recommend. Q. Are the Tag reporting analytics made available to
me in real time or do I need help from a third party?
Analytics are updated in near real time and the self-serve Tag Manager Reports can show you where and how many times your Tag has been scanned, allowing you to gain valuable insights into how and where your customers are engaging with your physical materials. The reports are simple to use without third-party assistance. See Use Reports in Tag Manager Help for details on using the full range of available reports. Q. Can I create my own reports by accessing a reporting
Yes, we offer the Scan Data API that allows you to export all your reporting data to easily see the results of your campaign. The API also provides more metrics than what is available using the Tag Manager reports for even deeper insights. Use of the API is free, but does require a key to access it. For more information on the Scan Data API and to request a key, please visit Scan Data API. Q. I don’t have a reporting system to review the API data, but still want to see the metrics. Can you help?
We do offer the Microsoft Tag Dashboard, which is an Excel add in and provides a series of canned reports on the top metrics from our API. The Dashboard is free to use and just requires that you have Excel and an API key to get started. Read more about the Dashboard at Tag Dashboard. Q. How do I build large quantities of Tag’s recognition technologies at the same time?
You can request a free Tag API access key using our Key Manager. Simply log into our Key Manager with your Windows Live ID to obtain your
API key. Review sample code and other documentation at our Using the Microsoft Tag Web Services API
The Creation API key initially allows you to create 5,000 Tag barcodes, QR Codes, or NFC URLs at one time. If you would like to create more than 5,000 please email a request to Tag Support at email@example.com along with a business reason.