ARCHIVES: This is legacy content from before Marketing Dive acquired Mobile Marketer in early 2017. Some information, such as publication dates, may not have migrated over. Check out the new Marketing Dive site for the latest marketing news.

Rosetta Stone spices up print ads with QR codes

Rosetta Stone is using QR codes in print ads to direct readers to sign up for the company?s language services.

As QR codes are becoming more ubiquitous, Rosetta Stone seems to be taking advantage of that in their advertising. The QR codes lead users to a site where they are prompted to try a quick free demo.

?Rosetta Stone is in the midst of a significant transition toward developing and delivering cloud-based learning solutions, in particular, solutions that are mobile,? said Jonathan Mudd, senior director of global communications at Rosetta Stone, Arlington, VA. ?We know that a significant segment of our target audience is on-the-go and uses mobile devices to learn languages while traveling, for business, school or pleasure.

?We are testing all sorts of strategies to increase mobile engagement, including QR codes,? he said.

?Our objective is to drive interested learners and potential customers somewhere where they can learn more about Rosetta Stone and interact with our products.?

QR savvy
The print ads, which appear in magazines such as the August issue of Travel+Leisure, display the small QR code at the bottom, right-hand corner of the ad.

There is no explicit copy on the ad to prompt readers to scan the QR code, but perhaps the company assumed most readers would be familiar enough with QR codes to scan it without prompting.

Once readers scan the QR code, they are directed to a landing site that prompts them to try the quick free demo.

There are also three other features besides ?Try it free:? languages, how it works and locations.

When users click on each feature, they can scroll down on the homepage for more information.

For example, when a user clicks on languages, a list appears below the home screen displaying the various languages that Rosetta Stone offers.

When a user click on location, a screen pops up to ask if the site can use the mobile device's built-in location, and then a map pops up showing nearby retail locations to purchase Rosetta Stone.

If a user clicks on try it free, he or she is asked to submit an email address or login with Facebook.

This feature gives Rosetta Stone the opportunity to expand its email database and gain information about interested users.

Mobile confusion?
While the QR code adds an exciting touch to Rosetta Stone?s advertising, it may also add some confusion.

For starters, a reader who spots the QR code may ignore it since there is no copy that explains the purpose of the QR code. If there was a line under the QR code that said, ?Scan to start your free trial,? readers might be more likely to scan the code.

Additionally, the QR landing page is a bit confusing.

When users click on each feature, the additional information pops up below the homescreen, below what is shown on the smartphone?s screen. A user might not realize that he or she needs to scroll down to access the new information.

?It?s really about the content and the experience after the QR code,? said David Javitch, vice president of product at Scanbuy, New York. ?The QR code itself is just a gateway a trigger to that experience."

Mr. Javitch is not affiliated with Rosetta Stone. He commented based on his expertise on the subject.

?It?s up to the marketer to make sure that they?re delivering a compelling experience after that scan,? he said. ?Making that content mobile formatted so that it loads nicely and quickly and having a straightforward path to that conversion.?

However, Mr. Javitch is still a huge proponent of mobile initiatives.

?Mobile, in general, is just a really great way for people to take action,? Mr. Javitch said. ?Certainly when they are reading something in traditional media, and probably in their pocket or their other hand is their device, so QR codes are just a simple way for them to take action.

?For a marketer it?s a good way to convert interest to action,? he said. ?If consumers have to remember a number or go back to a PC they?re losing the level of interest in that point in time, so advertisers are looking to take advantage of that interest as quickly as possible. QR codes help them close the gap on that interest and lead directly to conversion.?

Final Take
Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York