Tag Archives: advertising

Ripon Printers Uses A QR Code In A B2B Fail

Businesses who offer products and services to other businesses often lag behind in the use of new techniques to reach their customers. So I was intrigued when I saw a QR code on the back cover of the recent Chief Marketer magazine. Like the mobile nerd that I am I read only the headline, “Print and Digital Go Together Like Sugar and Spice, ” and then skipped right to the QR code (the ad was for a company called Ripon Printers). The code itself was unremarkable but there was some copy next to it that I found somewhat helpful, “Scan the mobile barcode with your Smartphone camera to download our white paper.” It was clear to me what would happen as a result of scanning the code. But what, exactly, would be downloaded? Based on previous attempts to download a document of some sort I figured it would be a .pdf, which was the first sign of potential trouble.

image: Ripon-magazine-ad-barcode

I happened to be sitting in a coffee shop so I popped out my phone and used the iNigma app to scan the code. I was taken to a web page that loaded very quickly (kudos to Ripon for that!). This being a B2B scenario the white paper was a lead generation tactic and on the web page was a form to complete in order to receive the download. Here’s the whole page:

image: Ripon-mobile-web-form

At this point I didn’t even know what the paper was about but to a degree that was my fault – I hadn’t read the whole ad, just the headline. On my phone this site was three screens long and there was no way I was going to tap out all that info using my phone’s tiny keypad just to receive a white paper.

At this point I declared this effort a modest FAIL — hardly a heinous one.

But I pressed on to see what would happen. I took the time to enter all of the required information — not a fun task with my big thumbs and the little keypad. The result was a bit confusing. The screen flashed momentarily after I tapped the Submit button but I was left on the page looking at my completed form. Did it work? It took me a while to notice the little icon in the phone’s status bar that indicated a download of some sort. I dragged the notification bar down to find that the white paper had arrived. Here we go, I thought. And this is the unfortunate result:

image: Ripon-whitepaper-on-mobile-phone

This is page 2 of the .pdf and there was no way I was going to pinch-zoom and side-scroll in order to read this thing. It was a nicely designed document but completely unreadable using a mobile phone.

FAIL.

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What could have saved this campaign?

There are two approaches to saving this lead-gen campaign when it comes to engaging people on their mobile phones (tablets, too, I suppose but does anyone scan 2D codes using their iPad??):

1) Shorten the form, reformat the .pdf   I understand that the sales team wants as much data on a prospect as possible but re-purposing your regular web form is the kiss of death for mobile. The form should simply ask for an email address and perhaps a name. Then, the downloaded .pdf should be one that was designed for reading on a mobile device with a single column, minimal graphics and large fonts. Lastly, make the web form give an indication that the download had started.

2) Change the channel to email   Mobile is a great way to capture impulse. In this case the web form could say something like, “Thanks for your interest in Ripon’s mobile expertise. We know you’re busy so just enter your email address and our white paper will be waiting for you in your email inbox.” There’s nothing urgent about reading the white paper. The key is to make it really easy to express that initial interest.

In either approach Ripon would at least have an email address they can use to follow-up and they would distribute many more copies of their white paper.

Jack in the Box Serves Up Some Mobile Fails

For awhile now, I’ve been receiving messages on my phone from Jack in the Box. To be honest, they are probably my favorite of all the fast food burger shops – in spite of the fact that I worked there as a kid in high school (Anyone remember when they blew up  clown and changed to Monterey Jack?).

I was mildly excited when I learned that I could join their Secret Society of Cool People where I’d be “privy to top-secret stuff like coupons, new products, and [Jack's] favorite color (Kelly green).” Plus, I like the playful non-corporate language.

Disappointment came a month later.
And again the next month.
And pretty much every time therafter.

Here’s the most recent message, in two parts.

image: Jack In The Box MMS Msg part1image: Jack In The Box MMS Msg part2

The cool thing is they are sending pictures. The not so cool thing is that the pictures look like mini versions of a tray liner.

Here are the last 4 pictures they’ve sent:

(yes, they sent the Chipotle one twice)

My biggest disappointment is that there is never an offer (no coupon). What is the point of these? They are just ads. So after 3 months there has been no real benefit to being in Jack’s Secret Society.

FAIL.

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What could have saved this campaign?

There are a few places to focus to see where the problems lie.

1) Strategy. It’s hard to tell what sort of experience Jack wants us mobile users to have. They appear to be simply using mobile as an advertising media, implying that they only want to put their name and products in front of people. A really, really, bad strategy when using MMS or SMS, which are the most personal of mobile media. Rather, Jack should be true to their original promise of delivering coupons and other Secret Society stuff and providing a special VIP-like experience.

2) Execution. On the heels of a good strategy is the ability to track success. With Jack’s current approach there is little to track other than, perhaps, whether the messages are being delivered but not all mobile operators provide consistent delivery reports. If Jack can start driving store traffic by turning these ads into coupons then the ability to track will require an in-store process and potentially integration with their point-of-sale system; a worthwhile effort IMHO.

 

Angry Birds Ads On Kindle Fire – FAIL

My wife received a Kindle Fire as a Christmas (er, Holiday) gift last year from her employer. It’s been interesting to see what role it plays among all our other devices such as the much larger iPad and the much smaller smartphones. So far its role is one of a time-killer (i.e. games) and list keeper (it’s great for shopping). As far as games go we have many for our 3yr old and one for us older types, Angry Birds by Rovio. Of course, we have the free version(s) of Angry Birds. I may be inclined to pay for it if I could install and use it on any of my devices but as it is I’d need to buy it multiple times. Sorry Rovio.

The free version is ad supported. No surprise there. But there’s a problem with the ads. Many don’t appear to fit. That is, the actual ad is too big for the screen real-estate allocated for displaying it. Here’s what I mean:

image: Angry Birds mobile ad fail 1

Uh, buy one what?

And,

image: Angry Birds mobile ad fail 2

Hmm. Something about avocados at Subway.

Then,

image: Angry Birds mobile ad fail 3

At least we know the price on this one. Finally, I tapped one of these misfit ads. What happened next made sense at first; I was taken to the Android Market (now call ed Google Play) – Kindle Fire runs on the Android operating system – where I could presumably download the game. But when I tried to install I only saw my Nexus S smartphone listed in available devices. My Kindle Fire wasn’t listed.

image: Rovio Ad Network Fail

Confused, I just backed my way out and continued playing Angry Birds.

Is this the experience advertisers can expect when placing ads in Rovio games?

FAIL.

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What could have saved this campaign?

It’s a little difficult to tell what exactly is going on here and who is responsible for what but here’s what I think is happening: Rovio’s advertising production system doesn’t realize I’m playing on a Kindle Fire and is serving ads designed for Android smartphones. This easily explains why I was taken to Google Play instead of the Amazon apps store. Amazon, like Apple, has created a closed ecosystem for accessing content for the Kindle Fire and you can’t get apps from the Android Market.

It isn’t quite as easy to explain why the ads don’t fit, though. The physical ad space seems about the same as space on the phone version. One of two things is happening: 1) Rovio is up-scaling the ads because the device is larger even though the space is the same or 2) Rovio is serving the wrong version (i.e. size) of the ad. Either way, the process is breaking. And pretty frequently. Nine of the ten different ads I saw were misfits! And I probably saw each ad 3-5 times. Do advertisers realize that 90% of their paid impressions are being wasted on Kindle Fire?

The fix goes all the way back to the advertiser. If, as an advertiser, you know that you have purchased space on the Rovio ad network it is your duty to test those ads on the devices you know it will show up on. Then, hold the ad network/publisher accountable for failures.

What do you think is happening here?

FedEx Ships A Failed QR Code

Marketers placing QR codes on vehicles is nothing new. FedEx is only the most recent example. Check out the coverage over at www.wtfqrcodes.com. Others include Steven’s Pass Ski Resort’s QR on a bus and Tissot’s QR on a Nascar vehicle.

The FedEx QR warrants special coverage, however, as it provides a unique experience:

image: QR code on FedEx Van

image source: Tag It Up, LLC

The copy accompanying the QR codes says, ”It’s a whole new package. Help us open it!” A but cryptic but one could argue that it might generate curiosity.

Assuming the van is stopped and your curiosity is piqued you can grab your smartphone, open the scanner app (when oh when will barcode scanning software be embedded in the regular camera software??) and scan away. Just be sure you’re not stepping into traffic as this particular QR is on the street side of the van. Now, scan!

image: FedEx QR Scan Fail

Ouch. Who is this ‘ScanLife’ anyway? Are they related to FedEx? Either way,

FAIL.

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What could have saved this campaign?

As far as QR codes on vehicles go it could be argued that FedEx trucks spend a decent amount of time parked at drop-off and pick-up locations. And while there, shipping-related personnel might have the opportunity, inclination and time to scan the QR code. While this is a cognitive stretch, I won’t dwell on it. Generally, however, vehicles are just not good candidates for QR codes.

Aside from the vehicle issue the other problem is testing and follow-through. FedEx is using a service called ScanLife to create QR code campaigns. The person in charge of the campaign has apparently neglected to activate the campaign in the ScanLife system. There is one sure-fire way to catch this sort of problem, testing. It is not enough to slap a QR code on marketing materials and call it a day. Testing must occur at all points of the campaign as noted in our handy How-To Guide. Testing would surely have saved this one.

Shazam Sacked Advertisers at the SuperBowl

I know the Superbowl is long over and forgotten but there is a lesson in mobile marketing that has emerged.

In mobile marketing circles there was quite a bit of hype about how mobile would be used by advertisers this year. There were one or two on-screen QR codes but viewers needed to be lightning fast to scan them. Then there were audio ID apps that monitored broadcast audio and delivered – or attempted to deliver – a second screen complement to what was playing on the main screen. Shazam is one such app that viewers could use to ‘get more’ about nearly half the advertisements in the game.  But I think both the folks at Shazam as well as the advertisers they worked with either failed to recognize the true SuperBowl experience or ignored it. It’s my opinion that the advertisers got sacked on this one. Read why user context is so critical for mobile in Greg Hickman’s review of this fail over at the Thumbfound blog.

-K

Stevens Pass: Pure Fail

By now it’s not news. QR codes are popping up everywhere. Sometimes they offer real value for the extra effort and result in a generally positive experience. More often than not, though, it seems like marketers (or non-marketers as the case may be) toss common sense out the window. The typical QR fail is one that simply dumps you off to a desktop web site that is impossible to read and navigate. There are far too many of those to write about on this blog. QR fails you’ll read about here will have something special to them and hopefully be more instructive than “you need to build a mobile web site”.

Last week, in the pouring Seattle rain, I pulled behind a city bus and noticed an ad for a local ski resort called Stevens Pass. It boasted some copy about a $50 special and a QR code. I’d heard about QR codes on buses but I’d only ever seen SMS codes (i.e., text BLAH to shortcode).  I didn’t even try to scan it. I took a picture of it, which isn’t easy (or safe) when driving in the rain at night.

image: Stevens Pass Bus QR

I’ve scanned enough QR codes in different environments to know that there was very little chance of getting this code scanned. I’ll talk more about why later.

Once I got home I loaded the picture onto my computer. I had to do some touch ups to get a good scan but it worked. And then I waited as my poor little phone browser struggled to load www.purepnw.com. It loaded but it was nearly impossible to tell what I was looking at.

image: Stevens Pass Web on mobile

I tried panning and zooming but the way the site was built neither of those tricks of the mobile browser worked. Of course no mention of a $50 special.

FAIL.

Just to find out what they really wanted me to see I opened the web site on my computer:

A nice desktop experience with videos of the resort, a twitter stream and rotating hi quality pictures in the background. In the center was an embedded YouTube video player. No wonder my phone couldn’t handle it. If ever there was a site not appropriate for mobile this is it.

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What could have saved this campaign?

First, we’ll need to make the assumption that Stevens Pass did more advertising than on the backs and sides of city buses. If so, there may have been a reasonable place to put a QR code. So here’s how we fix it:

1) Remove the QR from the bus. Not only is it unsafe to ask people to scan and drive but there are so many factors introduced that can and do render scanning difficult if not impossible: one or more moving vehicles, window glass, weather, lighting, reflection, camera angle.

2) Build a mobile landing page, if not a complete site, and direct your QR code there.

3) Put information on the site related to the ad. In this case there was no mention of the $50 promotion.

4) Give people a reason to scan. In this case ad copy that might have said, “Scan this to get your $50 voucher,” depending on the nature of the promotion.

Microsoft Launches a Mobile Advertising FAIL

I have a lot of apps on my Samsung/Google Nexus S. A couple are paid but the remainder are all free. Free due to advertising. These apps contain advertising slots that the developer hopes to sell to advertisers in order to generate a positive return. Alarm Clock Extreme Free is a perfect example. The bottom 1/6th of their app is dedicated to ads. Like one from Microsoft:

Microsoft Mobile Ad

I saw the ad above and thought, ‘ok, I’ve heard some decent stuff about Microsoft’s  Mango, let’s check it out.’  Tapping the ad I was asked first if I wanted to ‘View Ad,’ which was a little confusing because I’d just tapped the silly thing – of course I wanted to see the ad. Not sure if this is a function of the ad or a creation of the minds in Redmond, WA. but it seems like an unnecessary second step.

I tap ‘View Ad’ and, as expected, I’m whisked off to the land of my Windows Mobile 7 dreams.

Or not.

image: MSFT Site Cert

Now, I know that this  warning has its purpose and with only nacent experience clicking on mobile banner ads I try clicking ‘Cancel’. Bad idea. The same warning just kept coming up repeatedly, like a pop-up from a spam site that doesn’t want you to go away, and I never actually got to the site. I should have bailed at this point but it was starting to get interesting. Backing out, I found myself back in the Alarm Clock app looking at the same banner ad. Tapping it again and seeing the same warning I try ‘Continue’ and, thankfully it looks like I’m moving past the error message.

And onto a full website for Microsoft Store. Yikes.

image: MSFT Site

Yeah. This isn’t going to happen. Where are the goods on Windows Phone 7 “Mango”?? I’m at a storefront homepage, or so it seems (it’s very small).

FAIL.

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What could have saved this campaign?

It’s hard to tell what happened with this campaign. Here are my theories:

  1. (This is bad.) The marketer who set up the ad campaign didn’t realize that it might be seen from a mobile device. Given the gravity that success for Windows Phone carries for the Redmond giant this may be inexcusable.
  2. (This is worse.) The marketer actually knew that the ad would be seen from a mobile device, thought it was an awesome idea and did nothing. This marketer should be fired.

This could be a classic case of applying what we know about web advertising to the mobile environment but it appears that even the web portion has escaped the brains at Microsoft or, more likely, their agency.

  1. There is no payoff. Warning message aside, there is nothing that treats us to Windows Phone 7 and all its glory. We are simply shuttled to a home page. Of all channels, mobile needs to show value.
  2. Security certificates. These are incredibly important for eCommerce sites. They secure transaction and payment information from casual hackers. But this home page doesn’t need to be secure at this point. Nothing has happened. There should NOT be certificate validation at the entry point to a site where I may just want to browse products in relative anonymity.
  3. This landing site was not built for access from a mobile device. The remedy is obvious. Do NOT advertise on mobile devices if you’re not ready to give the user an experience designed for mobile.

ASUS Computers Gets a 404 Fail

From Randy Leslein (edited):

This week’s mobile campaign was found in the lastest (Oct. ’10) edition of Wired magazine. I found the ad by scavenging the entire magazine in hopes of finding some sort of mobile campaign taking place. Oddly enough, the QR code presented on this ad was the lone thing I found in this technology magazine that is just saturated with marketing.

image: Asus QR

Asus ad in Wired Magazine

To participate with the QR code you must have a mobile device capable of reading and an internet connection. Well, that is if you want to experience the delight of a “Page not found” (image) site. Because once you scan the code, that’s where you are taken.

Once again, the world of QR code fails.

There was no payoff, and again I was left curious as to the mystery of what the code contained. I even spent a good amount of time googling variations of “Asus nx90JQ wired qr code”, with nothing left to be found. I’m starting to think that making these things available to the searchable internet may be a good idea for the campaign creators.

Having such technology in a venue that targets people who usually have smart phones also seems wise. Maybe next time they will do some more internal testing.

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What could have saved this campaign?
Randy pretty much sums it up. Testing. The QR code was clearly created before the magazine went to print. If someone had simply tested the code before finalizing the ad this failure would have been avoided. This should be SOP.
Unfortunately, ASUS didn’t use a QR generator that supports redirect which would have allowed them to change the URL (it was missing “Jq” at the end), fixing the error.
ASUS still could just replicate the landing page at both URLs. Why they haven’t done this is a mystery. Perhaps they still haven’t tested it?
Then again, the corrected url simply points to a full, non mobile-friendly landing page where you have to pan the screen in all directions or zoom out and make the text too small to read. *sigh* – Kelly

AT&T Has Its Own Barcode – Fail

If you’ve read many of the FAILs on this site you won’t be very surprised to see another one tied to the use of a QR (Quick Response) code. That is, unless it comes from one of the largest mobile companies on the planet.

MediaPost has an ad running (or did) in its November 10 edition of the MobileMarketingDaily email publication. The entire email (well, the three prominent ads in it) appeared to be

image: AT&T Barcode Banner ad

AT&T Barcode Banner Ad

dedicated to a promotion  for Mobile Barcodes from AT&T (Mobility).  I was curious about this, wondering if AT&T was trying to commercialize a technology that is for all intents and purposes free.  So, of course, I clicked one of the ads.

I was presented with a rather nice flash-based landing page promoting the AT&T Mobile Barcode Service.  The main thrust of the page is to get you to watch a video. On the main landing page there’s a video for marketers and on the “Experience” page the video teaches consumers about mobile barcodes. Oddly, neither of the videos or the site use the term ‘QR code’, which made me wonder if the lawyers made them strike it for potential copyright issues.

The other call-to-action, aside from the standard request for more info, is “Want to scan this barcode? Click here.”

image: AT&T Scan now bubble

Cool! Ok. I clicked and out popped a fairly large image of a barcode/QR code and beneath it instructions to “..visit http://scan.mobi on your Smartphone to download the free code scanner app.” Do I really need to download a new reader?  I already have 4 barcode scanners on my HTC Hero but one is forimage: AT&T barcode Microsoft Tag and the other is built into a Best Buy app. MS Tag is clearly different – to me, at least – and the Best Buy app probably only works on consumer products, though I don’t really know. I’ve had good luck with NeoReader scanning barcodes in magazines and such so I popped open NeoReader. One of the AT&T videos mentioned using barcodes in magazines so this seems to make sense. Scanning the code NeoReader said it found: “Code: 5415400001005399″. That’s funny, I usually get a URL. Oh well. I select ‘continue’ and let the app do the work. I end up on the NeoReader site, www.qode.com, where I see an error message saying that the code is invalid.
image: AT&T QR Error

Hmm.. Maybe I’ll try a different scanner. I try the ShopSavvy app. Nope. ShopSavvy doesn’t even recognize it as a barcode at all. Grrr.. Do I really need to use the scanning app that AT&T told me about from scan.mobi? Seriously? No, I won’t, and neither will most people.

FAIL.

There is no way that QR codes are going to proliferate if each style of code requires its own scanner. To be fair, however, I downloaded the scan.mobi app, which is proudly provided by MobileTag, and it worked perfectly. Great. Now I have 5 barcode readers.

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What could have saved this campaign?
Well, it isn’t really a campaign as much as it is a puzzling decision to use a technology that requires it’s own scanner/reader. But there is the issue. Why would the second largest mobile operator in the U.S. use a proprietary technology or, at best, a technology that is not compatible with others in the market? The only thing that will save this is to make the barcodes they’ve committed to scanable by other barcode readers. They may, indeed, have the best barcode technology and reader but at this point they need compatibility; too many smartphone holders have a scanner app already installed.

Oddly, the ad in the MediaPost email that I clicked on was no longer available 4 hours after I received it. Clicking on it takes you to the MediaPost CMS platform provider, adtechus.com. Maybe AT&T discovered their problem?

Ski Utah Does a Faceplant

Ski Utah is the marketing firm owned and operated by the 13 statewide ski resorts thatimage: Utah Ski QR Code make up the Utah Ski and Snowboard Association. Their most recent campaign tagged, The Utah White Sale, promotes “..big savings on lodging, rentals, and lift tickets..”. As part of the campaign, Ski Utah, threw down for a two-page spread in SKI magazine.  With this ad they prominently display a QR code with the copy, “Use the QR code or visit SkiUtah.com to check out all the amazing deals!”

I happen to know what to do with a QR code so I pull up NeoReader on my HTC Hero and scan the code, which worked perfectly and I’m asked to confirm that I want to visit the resulting URL. Sure I do!

Waiting, waiting. The site takes awhile to load but load it does and I’m looking at the top left corder of what appears to be a full, image-rich web page. I see approximately 10% of the page. Yikes!  Dragging the pageimage: Utah Ski from Mobile Device right and left trying to see what’s on it is disorienting so I use the multi-touch feature on my phone and zoom out so the site fits the screen. The problem now is, I can’t read the text.  (The image on the right is full-size.)

FAIL.

I do notice a graphic in the bottom left that says, “Ski Utah Mobile Apps”. Bingo! I tap the phone image and the site tries to open another browser window but I get an error that says I have too many windows open (there are 4) and I can’t get to the page. Apparently the content-rich pages have eaten up all the browser memory. Sigh.

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What could have saved this campaign?
Ski Utah had a couple of options here but both start with providing the reader directions on how to use a reader to scan the QR code. These codes are still new to most people. Then:

  1. They could have made a version of the promotional page that was optimized for mobile viewing by reducing imagery, increasing font sizes and removing the Flash elements. This would, of course, involve device detection, which the site doesn’t appear to do, or
  2. The QR code could have taken me directly to their mobile site at m.skiutah.com. (I know, they actually have a mobile site but instead the QR code takes me to the regular site.)