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Why We at Delivr Disagree with, “3 Reasons to use MS Tags (not QR Codes)”

03 May 2011

We’ve been noticing a push by Microsoft Tag that alleges that MS Tags are better than QR Codes in specific ways. The rationale provided is disingenuous at best and results in misinformation for those researching 2D Barcode options.

From the MS Tag Web Site, “Tags allow you to dynamically change your data source – unlike other 2D codes that are associated with a single, permanent URL, Tags can be updated as frequently as you like to point to new websites, allowing you to reuse campaign materials.”

This and other statements gleaned from MS Tag marketing materials have been reinterpreted and spread by others. One such example is, “3 Reasons to use MS Tags (not QR Codes).”

The intent of this post is to set the record straight about QR Codes.

One thing you need to know upfront.

The direct comparison of MS Tags vs QR Codes is flawed from the onset. MS Tag is a proprietary format which Microsoft has built services around. The comparisons I see compare this directly against the open, standard QR Code format, WITHOUT taking into account the plethora of services that have been launched by companies within the 2D Barcode ecosystem that address the SAME advances claimed by Microsoft as unique to their format. This is the disingenuous part. It’s not the format - it’s the services one builds around it. In the case of Microsoft Tag, it is a closed environment/service. In the case of QR Codes, it a thriving, group of individuals, artists, startups, and QR Code pioneers empowered with the freedom to innovate.

Myth #1

MS Tags can be 44% smaller.

“When designing beautiful and effective marketing pieces, space is valuable.  MS Tags offers us a smaller option.

Here is the minimum dimensions for each:

    * MS Tag (color):  0.75 inch
    * MS Tag (b&w):  0.875 inch
    * QR Code:  1 inch

Note:  QR Codes get bigger as you add more information to them (longer message, number, or URL)

Fact: The latest camera models (including ALL smartphones), have improved macro capabilities, can deal with QR Codes that are less than 10 mm (0.4″) wide and high. While it is true QR Codes can get bigger as URLs gets bigger, QR Code service like Delivr embed a short, mobile-friendly URL (that 301 redirects to the destination URL) into its codes to maintain a consistently small size. 

Myth #2

MS Tags offer flexibility.

QR Codes are permanently linked to whatever is programed into the code.  MS Tags can be switched to whatever message, website, phone number, or vCard (electronic business card) you want, whenever you want.   By using an MS Tag, you don’t have to switch the tag you use on your business card, marketing flyer, etc. every time you switch messages or strategies.

Fact:  While it is true URL-based QR Codes are permanently linked to a URL by virtue of embedding a short, mobile-friendly URL – the destination URL can be editied to point elsewhere at any time. This means you do not have to switch the QR Code everytime you, "switch messages or strategies." 

Myth #3

MS Tags build in tracking.

Every time someone scans your MS tag, it is tracked and made available to you in a report.  QR Codes do not offer any sort of tracking ability.  This is a huge advantage, since metrics should be the basis for all marketing decisions.  ROI is key and MS Tags can help adjust your strategy on the fly.

Fact: QR Code Services DO offer tracking ability. Scan tracking and analytics is a service related not a format-specific advantage/disadvantage. I’m happy to compare our Delivr + PercentMobile mobile-specific reports against MS Tag reports. 

In addition to the above three reasons, Microsoft claims other so-called "advantages” such as faster scanning, more supported languages, location based GPS campaign customization, and tag design customization. We will explore those in a future post. 

Delivr is a MarTech platform used by thousands of businesses to drive audiences from print to digital experiences. Established in 2008, Delivr has developed software to track and visualize consumer engagement with printed media, labels and packaging. With TrueMrk®, Delivr is extending its marketing, consumer engagement and analytics platform to authenticate products and identify incidents of counterfeiting and gray market diversion.