In response to some of our recent blog posts, some readers have been asking about the difference between direct and indirect, or managed, mobile barcodes.
The direct approach is usually limited to the code going to one location regardless of who the user is or where the campaign stands. With direct codes, a URL is hardwired into the symbology of the barcode and takes you to the same destination every time. Once the code is created, the “return” can never be changed.
The indirect, or managed, approach is less restricted – the same code can redirect to different locations depending on the campaign rules. Indirect codes place an identifier into the barcode which can activate multi-faceted experiences using the same code. Depending on who scans, where and when they scan, targeted returns can be sent back and acted upon.
If all you want to do is just take people to simple content, direct is a viable option. However, using direct codes for high quality direct campaigns with bottom line accountability doesn’t work and doesn’t scale.
Indirect codes enable you to unlock tremendous control and support the trend toward targeted, efficient, intelligent and successful campaigns that bridge the physical and digital worlds. Using indirect codes, you can start a session, change content dynamically, or conduct transactions.
For example, an automotive company may want to send consumers in specific zip codes to a local dealer’s mobile offer vs. to a generic experience. Naturally, this has huge value for big brands with massive distribution and the marketing agencies who want to deliver “hyper-localized” targeting to their large clients.
Mobile barcodes are like URLs — you want to own them, control them and optimize them.
Registering a domain name (URL) costs a little bit of money and hosting it costs a bit more. The mobile barcode universe continues to grow at an increasingly rapid pace, and as one of the top domain name registrars in the world, Neustar knows that top brands are not going to want or trust “free” and will be willing to pay for the security, reliability and accountability that only managed codes can deliver. Just like their managed Internet domains.
Here’s why top brands want their codes to be managed by a trusted third-party like Neustar:
- Flexibility: The brands control the codes. Using a clearinghouse or registry gives the campaign manager control over the user experience and allows them to change or redirect codes to different URLs as often as needed.
- Security: A clearinghouse provides more security for mobile barcodes because the user’s mobile device only accesses the URLs that are registered with their system.
- Measurement: This approach offers the ability to track where the user is coming from and also enables brands to compare campaign effectiveness between offline and online content and supports new business models including revenue sharing. Without a neutral third-party – how can revenue share data be validated?
- Portability: Brands can switch agencies and take their codes with them, rather than having them tied to one proprietary platform or system. If one of a brand’s agencies goes out of business, the brand knows Neustar will ensure their code continues to be owned and controlled by the brand, with back-end changes made available to their new agency, for example.
- Value-Added Services: Because a clearinghouse is in the transaction flow, it can provide other value added services such as enabling the mobile site to access multiple URLs and determine where to send the user based on the type of scan.
- Size: Since the barcode is simply a reference to an experience, rather than the experience itself, it can be made much smaller in size. The indirect method lets you store information behind the barcode and keep the navigation simple.
I’ll be posting again in a few days, providing examples of why all of this is so important for top brands and their agencies to understand. Where would the Internet be today without domain name registries, standards, processes and coordination?
Share your thoughts!