2D barcode usage in print ads increased drastically in 2011, according to [download page] a February 2012 report from Competitrack. The proportion of print ads featuring a 2D code rose from less than 0.9% in January to more than 6% from September through December, before increasing again to 7% in January 2012. The largest jump occurred between July and August, when the proportion of print ads containing a 2D code rose from 3.6% to 5.3%. Overall, slightly more than 4% of print ads in 2011 included a 2D code.
Retail Accounts for 22% Share of Activity
Data from Competitrack’s “Black, White, and Read All Over” indicates that retail accounted for 21.9% of all 2D code activity in 2011, easily outpacing the next industry, technology (13.6%). Financial services (6.7%) and cosmetics and personal care (6.3%) followed, ahead of food and beverage (5%), apparel (4%), automotive (3.8%), publishing and communications (3.4%), telecom (3.4%), and health care services (3%).
QR Codes Dominate Market
The dominant 2D code type used in print ads in 2011 was the QR code format, utilized in 87.8% of these ads. 10.8% used a Microsoft Tag, while only a minor proportion used JagTag (0.4%), Datamatrix Code (0.4%), SnapTag (0.3%), and EZ Code (0.1%). This mirrors January 2012 analysis from Nellymoser that looked at mobile action codes in the top 100 magazines and found that 97% of the action codes printed in Q4 2011 were either QR codes (72%) or Microsoft Tags (25%).
Ads Point to E-Commerce, Branded Sites
40.7% of the 2D codes tracked by Competitrack led readers to content with a sales focus, such as brand homepages or commerce-oriented websites that enabled visitors to buy a product or service. A further 23.2% of the ads led to sites with a branding and engagement focus. 12.7% showcased a video, although roughly one-quarter of all landing pages overall included video content in some form. By comparison, 54% of the action codes printed in the top 100 magazines in Q4 2011 showcased a video (see link above).
Other destinations included promotions (7.8%), miscellaneous (including store locators – 3.5%), links to social networks (3%), application download (2.2%), and coupons (1%).
Top Advertisers Go All-In
The top 6 2D code advertisers in 2011 all featured 2D codes in more than 50% of their print ads. OppenheimerFunds led with 85%, followed by Next Day Blinds (71%), Tag Heuer (68%), State Street (61%), American Mattress (57%), and Newegg.com (55%). An additional 6 advertisers included 2D codes in at least one-quarter of their print ads, including Nissan and Home Depot (both at 26%).
About the Data: Throughout 2011, Competitrack identified over 7,300 ads featuring 2D codes, comprising 1.4% of all the advertisements tracked during the period, including ad types unsuited for 2D codes, such as radio spots.