The QR Code has been around since 1994; the Microsoft Tag is just two years old.
QR Codes have the “open source” feel to them; the Tag comes from a corporate behemoth.
The deck is stacked…right?
First, a little background before we begin our study. You have no doubt seen QR Codes everywhere. You have read about them lots of places – even here, where we asked if this is the Year of the QR Code.
Link to the post here: Year of the Q
The basic concept goes like this: take out your mobile phone, use a QR Code reader, and snap the code to access digital content.
Microsoft Tag works the same – take out your mobile phone, use the Tag reader, snap the code and access digital content.
Not by a longshot.
In fact, and the answer may shock you, Microsoft Tag wins hands down. Here’s why, along with some tips you can put to use in your business starting right now.
Reason 1: Flexibility – and not just Color.
QR Codes sure could use some spice. Right?
Remember this photo from the Holidays, with QR Code Wrapping Paper? That is as flexible as you can get with a QR code. You’re stuck with a black-and-white square.
The basic information in a Tag still has to fit into a square – either dots or triangles – but, as long as the dots or triangles remain intact, you are free to make some magic happen.
For instance, let’s say you run an art museum and want to take people behind the artwork. Like this:
(You can read the blog post for more on what the Steamboat Museum did with Tags.)
So you’re not constricted by color, and you can get rather creative with what goes behind the Tag – as long as the important dots or triangles are there.
Flexibility Score: Tag 1, QR 0.
But what about actually using them – like, putting the tag onto something printed, and getting more information to your audience?
Reason 2: Hundreds of Readers – or Just 1?
Open Source technology is awesome – WordPress we love, of course – but there’s a problem with Open Source in that, well, it’s “open.”
Think about this for a second: WordPress is great and thousands of people are creating thousands of plugins for millions of websites. But what happens if your plugin provider decides they’re bored with the plugin – but you find out that the plugin doesn’t work?
Try finding support.
Meanwhile, Tags are supported by Microsoft AND there is just one reader. Add reliability for your end user – the person you want scanning your Tag and taking a look at your content – and you have a winning combination.
Usability Score: Tag 1, QR 0.
Okay, one more category. Fixability.
Reason 3: Fix Your Codes on the Fly.
This is less about fixing the codes themselves – once they’re out the door on some printed material, they’re gone.
This is more about fixing the links to your digital content.
Seriously, can you tell these two apart? And just try keeping track of them, where they link to, what you’re using them for. Without a place to keep them all, you’ll go nuts: one place to create them, storing them on your blog, knowing where all the creative goes for each…
Microsoft to the rescue with this category.
Let’s say I wanted to change the link on the above tag – takes a few seconds, done, and done. And, since I customized it, or color-coded it with my logo, or have one that has my picture and another one that has my logo, keeping track mentally is a heck of a lot easier, too.
Fixability Score: Tag 1, QR 0.
So…now what? Are there any categories where the QR could win?
Maybe – adoption numbers have QR way ahead. But Flexibility, Usability and Fixability – give those to Tag, hands down.
Final Score: Tag 3, QR 0.
If you STILL have doubts about how to use these in your marketing efforts…listen to a chap named Kenny Powers.