An innovative bar code technology, QR Codes, first developed in Japan by Denso-Wave has been introduced in Singapore by Singapore Press Holdings. Branded as ZapCodes, the two-dimensional bar codes enable mobile phones equipped with cameras and special software to download information or link users to Web sites for more information. According to the Straits Times:
“ZapCodes add an interactive element, a new dimension, if you will, to 2-D advertising. They pack more value into your print advertisements. They open up a whole new vista,’ said Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) marketing executive vice-president Leslie Fong. ZapCode allows users to simply point their mobile phone cameras at a ZapCode icon and click. When installed on a mobile phone or PDA, the software reads and deciphers the ZapCode and triggers the sending of data back to the mobile device. The data, in the form of a WAP (URL) site, may contain extra information and pictures, vouchers, music and even videos.
Having experienced this same technology while in Japan, I saw firsthand how this technology has the potential to drive traffic and usage to both the online and print versions of the directory. One of the executives I was working with needed information about a restaurant and saw the directory ad had a QR code. With a snapshot from his mobile phone camera, he was able to quickly download the pertinent contact information and store it in his address book.
In the United States, this technology has been used primarily for product data, replacing outdated simple bar code technology. Japan and Singapore, however, clearly recognize its wider marketing potential. According to eMarketer, more than 60 percent of U.S. mobile phones have built-in cameras, providing a solid base of potential customers who could use the QR code technology.
If a critical mass of QR codes could be driven into Yellow Page directories, it would represent the largest collection of QR codes in one place, adding another level of relevance and usefulness to the print directory. Utilizing QR codes in the print book would drive traffic to Internet Yellow Pages and profile pages that provide more information, online coupons and video, thus driving consumer interest in contacting and purchasing products and services.