“It’s the hyperlink in the physical world” says a Microsoft PR man, giving the most succinct definition of what Redmond’s Tag initiative is all about. With Microsoft Tag, though, the software maker relies on a cell phone camera rather than a dedicated gadget to scan the bar code. Redmond is looking to resurrect the idea behind the CueCat linking a bar code in printed material to all manner of online content.
Microsoft has been working behind the scenes on proliferating the use of these multicolored Tags, which are designed to be snapped by nearby cameraphones. Once the pattern is recognized, you can obtain digital content directly on your phone whether it be a website link, YouTube video, or whatever and the uses are pretty much limitless: business cards, product packaging, magazines, anything that can benefit from supplemental online content and has a flat surface is a candidate to be Tagged.
This means you will be able to generate and use Tags that link to our standard scenarios, such as linking directly to webpages, and use the reader application at no cost. By simply going to Tag.Microsoft.com, you can create Tags and deliver rich interactive experiences on mobile phones, track your Tags, and read about how companies such as Conde Nast and others are using Tag.
Now, Redmond has decided to revamp and expand its system, with additional support for both QR codes and NFC capabilities. The update effectively allows businesses and individuals to create their own proprietary Tags or QR codes, while enabling consumers to scan said codes with their Microsoft Tag apps, or NFC-enabled smartphones. The new features are now available on Android, iOS, Windows Phone and BlackBerry handsets, reflecting Microsoft’s ambitions to dominate a space that has yet to fully develop.
You can create a Tag in less than 5 minutes
#1 Create your Tag – Log into Tag Manager with your Microsoft Live ID. Click “Create a Tag.” Give your Tag a name and choose your Tag type. Then just fill in the requested information – URL or text, start/end dates, and so on.
#2 Download your Tag – Create the Tag graphic by clicking the Download button. Choose your image size and file format, and whether you want a Basic or Custom Tag. Or, you can choose to make a QR Code or an NFC URL. Once you’re done, click Download and Tag Manager will create your file, ready to use in your marketing materials.
#3 Use your Tag – You can make almost anything interactive by putting Tag’s recognition technologies on it. Need to update the message behind the Tag barcode, QR Code, or NFC URL, just go into Tag Manager and change the info. You can edit the content any time without changing the existing item.
Its multi-colored (and, frankly, rather attractive) Tag barcodes added a few important innovations on top of the general QR code concept, and apparently to good effect: 2 billion Tags have been printed since the January 2009 launch, and 1 billion of those Tags were printed in the past four months.
#1 1 billion Tags have been printed in the past four months, bringing the total to 2 billion Tags printed since its January 2009 launch.
#2 The number of Tag users increased by three fold since emerging from beta in May; the number of Tags scanned increased by four fold during the same time period.
#3 To date, more than 100,000 Tag accounts have been set up to add interactive digital experiences to brand advertising and marketing campaigns.
#4 Since August, Tag has been used in more than 100 million magazine issues.
#5 In the largest known barcode campaign to date, Allure had 450,000 scans, using Microsoft Tag for its annual Free Stuff Giveaway issue in August.
A broad range of brands across a wide variety of industries have deployed Tag, including Canon Inc., HMS Host Corp., Jones Apparel Group Inc., Kellogg Co., Kraft Foods Inc., Proctor & Gamble, Razor USA, Simmons Bedding Company, Simon & Schuster Inc. and Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.
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