Magazines’ Use of Action Codes Rising

A recent article on indicated that the “top 100 magazines by circulation featured 2,200 [action] codes in the second quarter,” and that number continues to rise. The study, conducted by Nellymoser, didn’t track scan rates or actions taken but showed that the inclusion of action codes (digital watermarks, QR codes, others) is on the rise. Advertisers are following the lead of publishers: states, “instances of codes in advertisements also jumped, going from 5 percent of ad pages in the second quarter 2011 to 10 percent this year.”

It is no surprise that the “beauty, health and automotive categories accounted for 49 percent of all action codes in the second quarter, with automotive more than doubling its use of codes between first and second quarter.” Consumers are going to be more inclined to scan an action code if there is an incentive — such as a coupon or contest registration — and less likely to scan a code if they are merely being redirected to a website.

No Clear Conclusions Yet
We will continue to see a rise of action codes as smartphone usage becomes more prevalent, but a big question remains — when will everyone be able to see the data on scan rates or actions taken? Until this information is shared widely, advertisers will continue to hold back and watch for the trend to really take off.

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Julie Beckner
Julie Beckner

Julie is a media buying veteran at Empower, specializing in print and out-of-home. She's been featured in Media Life, MediaPost and the Cincinnati Enquirer for her expertise.