Microsoft tags have been called the next generation of QR codes. These tags have more marketing appeal due to the fact that they can be made much more customized than QR codes. They are made to be colorful and can incorporate a brand logo or name in the image of the tag. These tags can be scanned just like a QR code can be with a smart phone but instead an app made to scan Microsoft tags is used. These tags also called HCCBs (High Capacity Color Barcodes) were made to work with a smart phone camera, which means that even if the picture is blurry, the tag can still be read by the phone. The tags can be made much smaller than QR codes, which can save space when using these tags on advertisement materials.
These tags also have the ability to track usage. This is a great tool for marketing, because then companies' will know what is working with their tags and what is not. Microsoft tags can also utilize the GPS function on a phone so that these tags can direct a consumer to the location of a store or business. The tags can also be made without color for black and white printing.
Here are some of the main components of QR codes and Microsoft tags. The list includes the benefits of each as well as some disadvantages.
- easy to generate
- not very customizable in appearance
- many QR code reader apps available for mostly all types of smart phones
- No analytics available through free generators
- content and information in the QR code is limited
- easy to generate
- ability to customize
- customization is difficult - graphic design and key element knowledge is necessary
- some apps for reading Microsoft tags available, but not yet popular for all smart phones
- contains stats reporting and expired linking
I think these tags actually have the potential to overtake QR codes as a marketing tool because they are much more customizable. Unless you have two QR codes placed side by side, most of them look very much the same - just a black and white square code. Microsoft tags are able to incorporate a logo into the tag, so a company doesn't have to have the tag shown in the context of their logo and name like a QR code has to be. A Microsoft tag can just exist by itself and stand on its own as a marketing tool; it does not need to be incorporated into anything else.
The fact that these tags also record usage statistics is very helpful for businesses and makes these tags more useful than QR codes. Businesses can track whether or not their spending on these tags are worth the time and money. With QR codes, besides the use of coupon code, companies have no way of really knowing what the customer thinks of the code unless they personally review it and tell the company.
The only negatives of Microsoft tags at the current moment is that fact that not many people know about them, and there are nowhere near as many apps for scanning Microsoft tags as there are for scanning QR codes.
Check out the official Microsoft tag website for more information on Microsoft tags, marketing with Microsoft tags, and the future of mobile tagging.
This page on the Arizona State website gives an overview of Microsoft tags as well as some images of some customized Microsoft tags.