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American Media exec: QR codes need consumer education to understand value

NEW YORK ? An American Media executive at the Media Tech Summit 2012 conference said that there needs to be more consumer education with mobile bar codes in order to take off.

During the ?Developing Robust Mobile Products ? Destiny or Distraction? session, executives from American Media and Twitter discussed how to create both mobile-first and digital products. The session was moderated by Neil Fox, chief innovation officer at Ness Technologies.

?We do them ? we do QR code promotions,? said Joe Bilman, chief digital officer at American Media, New York.

?I think there is still a lot of education left for consumers to understand the value of picking up their phone, using their camera, getting the picture of the QR code, translating that to a URL destination to do something rather than just typing in the URL string,? he said.

?But I do think over time ? maybe it?s not QR codes or NFC ? maybe it?s another technology, but there will be some technology that can move beyond this conditional phase to help consumers connect to things in the physical world.?

Publish on mobile
There is an ongoing debate between applications and mobile sites.

However, smaller brands can start with a mobile Web site to drive value for consumers. Once there, they can aggregate their audience and see if there is room for an app.

Mobile Web can also be harder to monetize though by injecting ads that are not disruptive into the screen.

Banner ads, particularly on a smartphone, are difficult to get consumers to tap on and sometimes see little or no ROI, per Mr. Biman. Tablets on the other hand present more opportunities because of the larger screen size.

American Media takes a two-prong strategy with apps ? either sponsored apps that an advertiser pays the company to develop or paid apps for consumers. The executive said that the company does more on the sponsored app side.

Mobile-first mentality
Martin Ringlein, design manager at Twitter, San Francisco, said that one of the key differentiators to Twitter?s success in social media compared to some of its competitors is that the company has had a mobile-first mentality from the get-go.

For example, the company has the same desktop and mobile monetization strategy, which the executive described as being similar to Google?s AdWords.

Advertisers can send promoted tweets that are sponsored but appear in a user?s news feed. Advertisers can also see information about users, such as where they checked-in and what they are tweeting about.

As consumers continue to rely on multiple devices, there is some question about what constitutes a mobile device. For example, tablets often replace televisions and laptops for some consumers. Some experts argue that tablets in these cases are not mobile devices since users are stationary.

Marketers constantly debate to either invest in apps or mobile sites.

While a mobile Web site is a stepping stone and at least gives users a better browsing experience, if the company has the resources they should look at native apps because they offer quicker load times and is a more pleasurable experience, including push notifications and access to a mobile device?s built-in camera.

Additionally, some marketers only think about screen size when getting into mobile. However, it is also important to look at how consumers are using their devices to consume content.

?The context of mobile is different ? the most important thing that we have talked about with mobile is situational context,? Mr. Ringlein said.

?Our advertising strategies need to be in line with that context,? he said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York