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article imageOp-Ed: QR codes and digital watermarking better ROI than display ads?

By Dan Verhaeghe     Aug 15, 2011 in Technology
There’s no question that the digital era has brought about a great decline in advertising revenue for print publications.
Many advertisers utilize large digital ad networks that allow for an advertisement to be spread across hundreds of different publications online using search and online display ads.
The return on investment is questionable considering that click thru rates digitally, according to Smart Insights, are about 0.1%, or 1 in 1000 people.
Looking Beyond The Click Thru Rate
We have to look beyond the click though because most users want to stay on the webpage they are currently on.
A recent study done by WebProNews suggests that people only leave popular social media websites every so often, for Facebook and Twitter only drive 1.07% to 1.89% of referral traffic.
As a result, advertisers are forced to consider other metrics when it came to display advertising like ad interaction and expansion rates without leaving the page which were 2.41% and 5.63% respectively.
However, in mobile, where search and display ads also exist with reportedly higher click through rates due to the local and personal intent when using mobile browsers, it’s been found that an alternative known as in-app advertising is more effective.
Jolie O’Dell of Mashable reports on in-app ads: “In spite of the fact that the majority of 18-34-year-olds actively dislike mobile in-app ads, the majority will also be able to recall those ads at a higher rate than the ads they see while browsing the mobile web.”
O’Dell goes on to report that shockingly in-app ads only account for five percent of all mobile marketing and is only an 87 million dollar industry, one that is projected to approach 900 million by 2015.
That makes enough sense considering the mobile web is slow and people are more likely to spend time on apps downloaded that conveniently display the relevant information one is after.
QR Codes May Be More Effective Than In-App Ads, Display Ads and Search Ads, New Research Suggests
A recent study done by comSCORE says that 14 million Americans scanned QR Codes in the month of June 2011, representing 6.2% of the mobile audience.
Of the 14 million Americans who scanned QR Codes, 49.4% reported they scanned one from a print magazine or newspaper, 35.3% from product packaging, 27.4% from a website on PC, 23.5% from a poster/flyer/kiosk, 13.4% from a business card or brochure, 12.8% from a storefront, and 11.7% from a TV.
That means that seven million Americans are scanning QR Codes off print publications- one could say that’s about a 3% engagement rate given the percentage of mobile users that are scanning in the United States.
That leads to the conclusion that perhaps QR Codes and other associated technologies, which bridge the gap between offline and online, often the subject of much debate, controversy, misunderstanding, and doubt indeed increase the effectiveness of traditional advertising, trumping digital advertising means.
It’s something that can be monetized too- when one connects a QR Code to a mobile smartsite- mobile commerce can occur- perhaps a revenue enabler for traditional print publications as advertisers seek new ways to earn digital dollars through mobile commerce outside of mobile apps.
More Than Just QR Codes- Digital Watermarking Presents Serious Opportunity Too
That’s not to say it’s only QR Codes that print publications are using to enable that offline-online connection. The Sunday Oregonian in Portland, Oregon uses invisible digital watermarking technology by Digimarc to produce the same desired effect.
Perhaps all of this is a chance for print to rejuvenate itself somewhat- for digital watermarking and QR Codes both enable augmented reality, which is a 3D experience enabled via smartphones and tablets.
What digital watermarking can do that QR Codes cannot though is hide behind the print- and advertisers can watermark anything, from images to text, audio files, and more.
One can now possibly confirm, with the continued rise and usage of smartphones and tablets, that we are entering an era of more effective digital advertising that seeks to combine their traditional counterparts like print publications.
Something that could reverse a decades old trend of declining print advertising revenue.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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