Posted February 2, 2011 4:25 pm by with 3 comments

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AT&T’s Mobile Barcode Service is out to conquer the world with the help of Starz and their new series “Spartacus: Gods of the Arena.”

The cable network has signed on to do a test campaign between now and June that will include AT&T barcodes on everything from print ads to bus posters. Scanning the code with a compatible phone will unlock hidden entertainment treasures such as exclusive videos, special offers and of course, a quick link to sign up for Starz service.

A nifty idea, but will consumers play along? According to AT&T’s press release, “80% of respondents in a March 2010 survey indicated interest in scanning barcodes with their mobile phone. Sixty-nine percent of those surveyed want to scan barcodes to capture and redeem coupons and discounts.”

Really? 80% of the people I surveyed, didn’t even understand what I meant when I asked them if they were interested in using barcode technology.

The upside of this type of campaign is that it’s like looking for hidden Easter Eggs on a DVD. The downside is that, the thrill of the hunt is usually greater than the eventual prize, but if you’re bored at the bus stop, why not scan and watch a trailer or two?

Right now, barcode technology succeeds because it’s new and fun. People with smartphones like to use them to do things they could as easily have done by hand. For example, my new fascination with IntoNow. Using this app, you point your phone at the TV and the app tells you what show you’re watching. I could locate that information faster by opening the cable guide on my TV but it’s not nearly as much fun.

Mobile barcode marketing could be the big push of the near future. Before that happens though, more people have to be aware of the technology and the rewards for scanning have to be more than just a video you could find on YouTube.

What do you think of mobile barcode marketing?
Info from AT&T’s press release and thanks to MediaPost for the tip.

  • Frank Reed

    Kinda funny that AT&T would call them mobile barcodes when the rest of the world has deemed them QR codes. A sales tactic I suppose but one that makes them appear to be out of flow of things.

    I’m with you on the 80% number. In Silicon Valley? Sure that number makes sense but the progressively more insular view of the world coming from those parts makes one wonder if they think the rest of the world exists or even matters.

    Once again we are racing way past the mass market and looking behind us saying “You get that, right?” and thus leaving large opportunities in the dust. Oh well.

  • dean

    I love QR codes for enabling measurement of offline marketing efforts but agree with you and Frank about awareness. 80%? I’ll assume that the “respondents” were the AT&T people who were in the room when the campaign was being created. QR codes will find their place but right now they’re the ‘Shiny Object de’jour.’

  • Cynthia

    The only advantage to the “mobile barcode” name is that it makes it more accessible to the average person than a QR code. Everyone knows what a barcode is – it’s the thing they put on Jessica Alba’s neck to keep track of her in Dark Angel.