An Evolution or A Revolution?
It has been almost two weeks since my last post, but it was for a good reason.
While I was doing research trying to identify and come up with any new mobile tactics and technologies that could be exploited i realized that QR has been big in the US. I mean you see it everywhere. New companies launch in its name as we speak.
We all know that this is nothing new. It has been around for years. It is just that brands have only started heavily using it about a year ago. So i tried to think of what could come next, as those little pixelated black dots can certainly not go on like this for ever. And this is where I realized that the whole thing with QR codes is linked to something much more, something that has a great potential for both advertisers and brands.
Therefore I tried to identify any opportunities that come along with such technology advancement and ultimately try to identify whether we are presented with an “evolution or a revolution”.
Some Background Overview
Since the late 90’s and the introduction of QR codes in the automotive industry the era of image recognition technology has seen accelerating and great advancements become more popular by the day due to its ease of use fast readability and large storage capacity. Technology has moved in recent years from QR codes and bar codes to customized and personalized image codes, to image and product recognition and lately to video recognition technology.
Over the years mobile marketers have utilized such technologies and benefit from their numerous capabilities incorporating them in customer campaigns building innovative solutions. Before taking a deeper look we should identify each solution individually.
1. QR codes
Invented by the Toyota subsidiary Denso Wave in 1994 to track vehicles during the manufacturing process, the QR Code is one of the most popular types of two-dimensional barcodes and heavily used currently from various brands and advertisers to promote coupons, mobile destinations and special offers. They are usually found in-stores and on magazines, encouraging users to scan them with their mobile devices to be redirected to the customized experience.
2. Smart image codes
Smart image codes are an alternative use for QR codes where an advertiser is able to manipulate the QR code in any possible way to match his/her client logos, colors, look and feel. Smart QR codes can only be manipulated to a certain extent as the coded message cannot be altered in order to be decoded. More and more brands are using such codes to their campaigns incorporating them to their existing marketing mix.
3. Image recognition
Image recognition technology goes one step further than the QR codes or the smart image codes in the sense that it doesn’t use coded text or urls coved by what seems to most people as pixelated images. Image recognition triggers an actual image or a physical product. Its technology enables the recognition of shapes, logos and colors and by using a relevant application will automatically trigger a message or a page providing additional information. Overall, they are graphically richer and more appealing than their ancestors, they can contain any logo, information or personalized image and are easy to remember because they are images, not secretive machine only readable QR codes.
4. Video recognition
It is the latest advancement of such technology. It has seen a respective growth throughout last year, and is perceived as the next big thing, not only for advertisers, but also for the overall user experience. Video recognition technology can identify objects, products, people and any information that is projected on screen, enabling advertisers to promote branded content in a seamless and innovative manner. For those familiar with sound recognition, it is the Shazam of videos.
Image & Video recognition in action
A large segment from local business to large companies has taken advantage of the possibilities and capabilities of the image and video recognition technologies, incorporating it on their overall mobile strategy. These businesses market and advertise using targeted marketing solutions that reach consumers on their personal time for products and services that are interested in. It also enables brands to deliver information how and when they want to creating a seamless mobile experience.
Image recognition technology enables users to interact with products and brands both physically and virtually at the same time. Using their camera phone and capturing a product or an advert they are automatically redirected to an online experience retrieving additional information unable to reach otherwise. The technology identifies the image and links it with a particular campaign or a product, fetching information to be delivered to the end user.
A large number of news agents, magazines and products such as the Guardian or Trident have repeatedly run campaigns using such technology. In those two occasion users were encouraged to take a picture that would automatically upload to the server and instantly provide more information with sponsored links, promotions and products for the particular campaign.
Similarly there are an increasing number of campaigns that use the video recognition technology. Video recognition technology enables brands to run at the background of a video and only be activated when the user records and “decodes” a video clip. In such campaigns users are encouraged to capture a video on the TV, internet or anywhere to be automatically uploaded to the servers in order to be decoded and provide the available information.
There are however a couple of limitations when it comes to such campaigns. The first one is that there is the need for a dedicated application. You are not able to simply use your camera application on your mobile. Such applications are Blippar for image recognition and Videosurf for video recognition. Secondly, a rather high barrier for performing such campaign is the need for an extensive library of content and campaigns and a rather extensive reach on publishers.
So what do you think? Is it a revolution or an evolution? Will such technology emerge and provide adequate opportunities for advertisers and marketers to leverage innovative an exclusive brand campaigns?