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QR Codes: Bridging the Gap Between Offline and Online

In a recent article called “Why QR Codes Will Go Mainstream,” Mashable referred to these quizzical little boxes as “the shortest distance between curiosity and information retrieval.” Very poetic.

The author of the piece suggests that QR codes are likely to become the commonplace connector between all things offline and online. He points out the fact that the code is open-source and freely available for use, that adding it to a magazine page doesn’t cost extra and that the rise in smartphone usage makes them accessible to more people every day.

All of this is true, but there’s one big downside to QR codes that I think will keep them from becoming mainstream; they don’t mean anything when you look at them. They’re cool and for folks who love puzzles, they’re enticing, but for the average person flipping through a magazine, they’re an out of focus eye chart.

San Fran SMB’s Fight to Keep Yellow Pages

There was a day where the Yellow Pages phone directory had a coveted spot in every home and phone booth. These days, however, a huge number of phone directories go straight from the doorstep to the trashcan.

The Product Stewardship Institute estimates that phone books create 660,000 tons of waste per year and because they’re printed on low-grade paper, recycling isn’t easy. That’s why San Francisco Board of Supervisors President David Chiu has proposed a bill to stop the unsolicited drop off of these books. He’s suggesting that instead of an opt-out program, Yellow Pages delivery would be an opt-in program and that’s a big difference.

Advertisers and Agencies Differ on Digital Spending

Digital advertising is an important part of any company’s business, but according to a new report from Econsultancy and SAS, agencies and their clients have very different views on how that money should be spent.

Looking at this chart from eMarketer, we can see that 75% of agencies thought their clients should spend more money on mobile marketing but only 62% of advertisers agreed.

On the flip side, advertisers wanted to increase their spending on search, display and email marketing. Not only did their agencies not agree, but they went so far as to say that display dollars should be kept the same or decreased.

The biggest gap is in the area of the company website. 61% of advertisers think they need to spend more while only 39% of agencies agreed.

A&E Uses Augmented Reality to Market New Series

If you’re in NYC on Thursday, March 3 and you happen to see a man in an orange prison jumpsuit, don’t call 911. Just dial up the Breakout Kings app on your iPhone and you could win a prize.

A&E is going all out with an augmented reality promo for their new prison break / conman series and I fear it will be the Mafia Wars incident all over again.

Though I’m sure the actors playing prisoners on the loose will be clearly marked with a Breakout Kings logo, certainly their presence in the city will cause some confusion and spark a few calls to the cops. Right? A&E is ready to take that chance maybe because even if they end up paying a fine to the city, it’ll only help them make bigger headlines.

Behavorial Advertising Takes Another Hit from Washington

This morning, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) was named chairman of a new Judiciary subcommittee for Privacy, Technology and the Law. The list of activities that the committee will oversee is a long one and it includes the collection of information for behavioral advertising and privacy in social networks.

Says Franken:

“The boom of new technologies over the last several years has made it easier to keep in touch with family, organize a community and start a business. It has also put an unprecedented amount of personal information into the hands of large companies that are unknown and unaccountable to the American public. As chairman of this new subcommittee, I will try to make sure that we can reap the rewards of new technology while also protecting Americans’ right to privacy.”

Will You “Like” Facebook’s New Ad Format?

If you’re not a fan of Twitter’s new sponsored tweets ads, then you’re going to be somewhat grumpy by the time you get through reading this post.

You see, Facebook’s decided that it too would like to turn status updates into sponsored ads and is launching something similar. According to AdAge, advertisers will be able to convert a “like” or check-in–and some other kinds of brand interaction–into a Facebook ad.

How does that work? Here’s an example…

…if Starbucks buys a “sponsored story” ad, the status of a user’s friends who check into or “like” Starbucks will run twice: once in the user’s news feed, and again as a paid ad for Starbucks. Though clearly marked with the words “sponsored story,” the ad — which will includes a user’s name, just like the news feed — is not optional for Facebook users.

Time Inc. Merges Print and Digital Sales Units

There was a day when offline and online were two very distinct paths through life. These days, however, that’s not really the case. Watching TV and reading for pleasure used to be strictly offline behaviors but now many people do both online. Why go to the computer to get your email when you can get it on your phone? And thanks to Samsung, I now sit down in front of the TV to catch up on Twitter.

Time Inc. has seen the writing on the wall and that’s why they decided to merge their print and digital sales unit into a new unit they call “Time Inc. Branded Solutions.” It’s a fancy name for a pretty simple idea – positioning your brand next to their brands without worrying about boundaries.