Magazines Embrace Mobile Action Codes

November 29, 2011

nellymoser-action-codes-in-top-100-magazines-nov11.gifMobile action codes, including QR codes, Microsoft Tags, and 2D barcodes, are quickly becoming an important advertising tool for magazines to engage readers, build brand loyalty, and capture new business, according to [download page] a November 2011 study from Nellymoser. Data from “Mobile Action Codes in Magazine Advertising Q3 2011” indicates that the total number of action codes in the top 100 US magazines by circulation exploded to 507 in September from just 88 in January, representing impressive 476% growth. The previous highs had been in May (394) and July (373). According to the report, the drop in action code growth during July and August reflected the decline in the total number of pages printed.

Near-Total Penetration Seen Among Top 100

nellymoser-titles-action-codes.jpgThe proportion of top 100 magazine titles containing at least one action code climbed to 96% in September, up from 63% in January and just 9% in November 2010. However, most of the growth in the proportion of magazines with action codes occurred during Q2, as from May onwards, roughly 80% of titles contained at least one action code.

During the year, both the average and median number of action codes per issue increased: in Q3, nearly five action codes appeared in each issue that contained at least one action code, compared to an average of 2.33 in Q1. Although the top 5 campaigns contributed largely to this growth, the median number of action codes per issue also doubled, from 2 in Q1 to 4 in Q3.

Ad Page % Increases

Meanwhile, there has been a relatively steady increase in the percentage of ad pages containing at least one code. In September 2011, 5.76% of ad pages contained at least one code, down slightly from a peak of 6.52% in August, but representing 12% growth from 5.14% in June and 63% growth from 3.53% in March. According to the report, the August jump was the result of two major giveaway campaigns: Allure and This Old House magazines each used Microsoft Tag action codes as a way for readers to enter the giveaway and for the advertisers to obtain information.

Most of the growth in action codes appears to be coming from advertising: whereas in January there were 7 advertising codes for each editorial code, by September there were almost 20 advertising codes for each editorial code.

QR Codes and Microsoft Tags Dominate

92% of the action codes printed in the top 100 magazines in Q3 were either QR codes (62%) or Microsoft Tags (30%). According to the study, editors continue to prefer Microsoft Tags: 88% of the editorial action codes printed in Q3 were Microsoft Tags, down slightly from 93% in Q2.

Other Findings

  • Women’s magazine titles, which focus on fashion, family, and homemaking, continue to outnumber other titles with action codes.
  • Beauty, home, and fashion brand categories led the pack with a combined total of 436 codes, representing roughly 38% of all codes used in advertising.
  • Showcasing a video (47%) was by far the largest usage for action codes. Opt-in/sweeps (34%), social media (24%), and store, m-commerce (16%) were also popular uses of action codes.
  • In Q3, only 37% of codes contained instructions as to how to download a scanning app, compared to 48% in Q2. Furthermore, the use of icons adjacent to a code dropped from 17% in Q2 to 10% in Q3, indicating a perception of greater consumer understanding of these codes. According to an October 2011 Russell Herder survey, while 72% of consumers say they have seen a QR code, close to 30% do not know what it is.

Information about Glamour Magazine’s September SnapTag campaign is available at MarketingVox.

About the Data: Nellymoser studied the top 100 US magazines by circulation, limiting the study to monthly issues readily available on newsstands nationally. To compile the data, Nellymoser surveyed and analyzed all of the pages within the top 100 magazines, counting 40,300 total magazines pages and 18,407 total advertising page.

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