Archive for December 6th, 2007

sun qr bombshellProps to the The Sun (UK) for making QR codes sexy. Today’s publication features a full page “spread” (sorry, couldn’t resist) introducing readers to QR codes, which they tout as “a new kind of barcode, [that] will revolutionalise the way you use your mobile – and the way you read your Sun.” By snapping a photo of the above QR code with a QR reader (a mobile application that can read and decode QR codes) the SUN’s mobile site will automatically launch in the reader’s mobile web browser. In addition to linking to a web page, QR codes can initiate an SMS, MMS or IVR event, or can be used to initiate the transfer of web based content, such as mobile wallpapers, games or video clips.

Personally I’m bullish on QR in 2008 here in the US, as they provide an excellent work around to the UI / URL issue inherent in non QWERTY mobiles (as well as the fact that you can’t WAP push on the Verizon network), and are in fact much easier to use that even the (somewhat) popular Shortcode / keyword mechanic. The barrier to QR code usage has always been getting the readers on the devices (historically only a few Nokia handsets have shipped with preloaded readers, and to my knowledge never in the US).

It seems that this barrier may be (slowly) coming down. I’m told many of the major US carriers are getting behind the technology, giving the downloadable readers some fairly prominent deck placement over the next few quarters (sources confidential). Also, Google has stated that Andriod will feature a basic, but functional “format agnostic” QR reader, to be preloaded on all devices shipping with the Android Open OS. More preload deals are apparently forthcoming in the next 12 months.

All of this bodes well for activating “physical world” QR-driven mobile marketing applications, including QR integration on product packaging (for product information, or eventually purchase), print, outdoor, and even television advertising (yes, you can scan a QR code from a standard def LCD, plasma or even CRT monitor).

$5 to the first person who spots a QR being used in the US and posts it here… and $10 if it’s being used in a “scavenger hunt”-type activity.

Amobee Media Systems has selected Winstar, known primarily as a niche online advertising and production firm, to rep their mobile advertising inventory (release). You may recall that that Vodaphone and Telefonica both made strategic minority investments in Amobee a few weeks ago, announcing that Amobee would be rolling out ad services for the carriers’ inventory in Greece, Czech Republic and Spain markets.

Amobee’s play has always been to go after carrier deals, as that’s where the bulk of the mobile ad inventory is at present, and it also allows the company to offer integrated ad packages across most mobile touch points (MMS, SMS, WEB) – a level of integration that’s rare in today’s marketplace. The challenge Winstar (and therefore Amobee) will face is that (so far) the most difficult part in the mobile advertising value chain has not been procuring the inventory… it’s been selling it. Both EnPocket (now Nokia) and Third Screen Media (now AOL) enjoyed early successes in securing large swaths of carrier inventory, only to run into problems on the sell-side. Tales of <20% sell thru on any given month were not uncommon.

Of course neither of these two scenarios involved the type of “integrated mobile ad packages” that Amobee brings to the table with their “carrier-grade technology.” That being said, my hunch is that Winstar has bitten off far more than it can chew, and that Amobee took an unnecessary risk in going with a small player… a larger online ad network could obviously do a better job repping the mobile inventory, but would give Amobee a smaller cut of the revenue.

Amobee seems to be following the same business model as their carrier partners: tie up smaller players and take a bigger piece of the pie… forgoing (short and mid term) gross revenues for larger (long term) revenue shares.

Of course if Winstar really under performs I’m sure Amobee will be free to find additional partners to help sell the inventory.