Do You Really Need a QR Code?

Even if you don’t know what they are, you’ve no doubt seen quick response (QR) codes in print advertising and other places. QR codes are the next iteration of bar codes and look like a small white square that is populated with a seemingly random group of interconnected tiny black squares and rectangles.

Take a picture of the QR code with a properly equipped smart phone and you will have quick access to a website giving more information about the ad’s content.

But there is a problem with QR codes: consumer usage is low. According to a Forrester Research study, in a three-month window in 2011, only five percent of those surveyed scanned even one QR code. That’s not five percent for every code, but five percent of all codes combined. Hence, the reasonable assumption could be made that some codes are seldom or even never scanned at all.

The reasons are many: Some people don’t know what QR codes are. Others are confused in how to use them. A third group lacks the needed technology (be it the smart phone or the requisite app), but most just ignore them.

Add to this that the Web page the QR code lands on is often not optimized for mobile devices.

Although QR code usage is sure to grow in the future as these problems are addressed and overcome, there certainly doesn’t seem to be an imperative need to include them in your ads today — but just don’t dismiss them forever.


2012 Advertising Outlook

The January issue of DM News (Direct Marketing News) had some interesting commentary about the advertising outlook for 2012.

They note that overall advertising expenditures are expected to outpace the US economy this year.

They also proclaim that online ads are expected to thrive in 2012, growing 11.2% to lead all forms of advertising. (This stat was shared by Stuart Elliott of The New York Times, citing Vincent Letang, executive VP and director for global forecasting at the MagnaGlobal unit of Mediabrands.)

This is good news. Advertising today paves the road for sales tomorrow. The overall economy will surely follow.


Magazine Growth Shows Print is Not Dead

You may be surprised to learn that for the first quarter of 2011, there were more magazines started then for the year prior.

Even more telling is that the number of launches far exceed the number of magazines that folded, which remained about the same as the prior year.

This means that there is a net year-to-year growth for magazines, with more startups but about the same number of shutters.

I guess they didn’t buy into the oft-quoted “wisdom” that print is dead.

Not only is print not dead, but it is alive and thriving!


Heavy Users of Print Also Embrace Digital

While the conventional wisdom is that as people who read go electronic, they abandon print. It makes sense, but is it true?

In this regard, the July issue of Folio magazine shares some interesting findings from a survey conducted by GfK MRI. Specifically, tablet owners are 66% more likely then the average US adult to be heavy users of printed versions of magazines. Furthermore, e-reader owners are 23% more likely to be heavy print users.

Therefore, an increase in electronic reading does not signal a decrease in reading print.

(Other interesting findings of the study: men are more likely to own tablets and women are more likely to own e-readers. Also, e-reader owners are mostly reading books, at 87%; magazines come in at 15% and newspapers, 14%. Tablet owners are more even, with book reading at 57%; magazines, 39%; and newspapers, 41%.)


Twelve Facts About Magazines

The following is from the 2010/11 MPA Magazine Handbook:

Magazine audiences are growing – and young adults read heavily: The number of magazine readers has grown more than 4% over the past five years. Ninety-three percent of adults overall and 96% of adults under age 35 read magazines.

  1. Magazine audiences are expanding across platforms: The number of magazine websites and mobile apps is increasing; e-readers are projected to grow rapidly – and consumers want to see magazine content on them.
  2. Magazine advertising gets consumers to act: More than half of all readers (56%) act on magazine ads. Plus, action-taking has increased 10% in the last five years.
  3. Magazines improve advertising ROI: Analysis of client-commissioned cross-media accountability studies found that magazines most consistently generate a favorable cost-per-impact throughout the purchase funnel.
  4. Magazines contribute most throughout the purchase funnel: Magazines are the most consistent performer in the purchase funnel, with particular strength in the key stages of brand favorability and purchase intent
  5. Magazines build buzz: Magazine readers are more likely than users of other media to influence friends and family on products across a variety of categories. Magazines complement the web in reaching social networkers, whom marketers increasingly favor to generate word-of-mouth.
  6. Magazines spur web traffic and search: Magazines lead other media in influencing consumers to start a search for merchandize online, ranking at or near the top by gender as well as across all age groups. Also, magazine ads boost web traffic, and magazine readers are more likely than non-readers to buy online.
  7. Magazines prompt mobile action-taking: Magazine readers are most likely to use a text message to respond to an ad and redeem a mobile coupon versus other media. Plus, magazines rank high in generating other mobile action.
  8. Magazines and magazine ads garner the most attention: When consumers read magazines they are much less likely to engage with other media or to take part in non-media activities compared to the users of TV, radio, or the internet.
  9. Magazine advertising is valuable content: Consumers are more likely to have a positive attitude toward advertising in magazines compared to other media.
  10. Magazines supply credibility: Multiple sources show that consumers trust ads in magazines.
  11. Magazines deliver reach: Across major demographic groups, the top 25 magazines deliver considerably more rating points than the top 25 primetime TV shows.
  12. Magazine audiences accumulate faster than you think: More than three-quarters of readers read their copy within the first three days. The average monthly magazine accumulates approximately 60% of its audience within a month’s time, and the average weekly magazine accumulates nearly 80% of its audience in two weeks.