Guest article: Decoding QR codes

QR codes come with the ability to connect people with each other and to multimedia content, which is useful for businesses and consumers alike

e4m by Sujay Maheshwari
Published: Apr 30, 2012 10:27 AM  | 6 min read
Guest article: Decoding QR codes

If the title of this write-up sounds mystical, let’s begin by informing you that it’s not Dan Brown’s sequel to “The Da Vinci Code”. And neither is it the holy grail of the technology world. It’s been around for ages and is now being put to some innovative use. We explain how.

Digital interaction: The possibilities
Let’s get your imagination going on the possibilities at hand, to improve the way you interact with a brand or a product. You are reading your newspaper that has this interesting interview with your favourite business person. Instead of reading the interview off the newspaper, what if you could view it? Or what if the movie promo splashed on your newspaper could come alive and allow you to view the trailer? Sound’s Harry Potterish? Here’s more - you walk into a multiplex unsure of which movie to catch and you have a facility by which you can watch the trailer of each of the movies running there. Or even better, see what people on Facebook or Twitter are saying about them so that you can avoid the duds.

Fascinated? Here are some more possibilities. You buy this new brand of spice that shows you a neat recipe visually. Or, you walk away from the supermarket with a heavy bag and a light wallet, looking sadly at the incredibly long receipt and the same offending receipt becomes a coupon that gives you a discount or a freebie. As a culture vulture, you visit a museum on your holiday and the painting in the art gallery tells you interesting anecdotes of the muse that inspired it. And that sculpture you begin to admire gives you an insight into its creator’s mind at the time of its creation.

QR codes, like the one you see here, are these maze-like squares that are increasingly springing up in multiple places. They are similar to the barcodes used by retailers to track inventory and price products at the point of sale. The key difference between the two is the amount of data they can hold or share. Bar codes are linear one-dimensional codes and can only hold up to 20 numerical digits, whereas QR codes are two-dimensional (2D) matrix barcodes that can hold thousands of alphanumeric characters of information. When you scan or read a QR code with your iPhone, Android or other camera-enabled smartphone, you can link to digital content on the web; activate a number of phone functions including email, IM and SMS; and connect your mobile device to a web browser. Now, you can see what they can do to businesses that need to keep communicating brand, product and service information to their buyers but are constrained by advertising space, time and spend. And more importantly, what they can do to customers who need to make that informed decision of buying or rejecting a product or a service.

QR were first created and used in Japan. When Denso Wave, a subsidiary of Toyota, invented QR codes back in 1994 to track their vehicle parts, little did they imagine that QR codes would one day become an alternative marketing channel. These days we are noticing these convenience codes in newspapers, magazines, hoardings, product packaging, brochures and even as epitaphs on tombstones. (Instead of a poignant quote, an Israeli man opted for a QR code embedded in the tombstone for his mother’s grave in the city of Haifa. The QR codes links visitors to a memorial website he set up and the site contains photos and stories of his mother’s life).

In each of the digital interaction scenarios discussed before, we are talking about bringing real world objects to life; by bridging the real world and digital world with a link. This link could be a QR code. QR codes come with the ability to connect people with each other and to multimedia digital content, which is very useful for businesses and consumers alike. For example, if you are a business and have a presence on Facebook, you can create a QR code that links your mobile device to a fully functioning ‘Like’ button for your Facebook page. The accompanying signature ‘thumbs-up’ clearly suggests the purpose of the code. By scanning the image you see here with a smartphone equipped with a QR code reader, you will be able to ‘Like’ this write-up on the Facebook page.

Despite being around for 16 years, it is only now that QR codes are popping up everywhere. The reason for this is not difficult to fathom – the ecosystem that enables QR adoption is evolving now. The burst in smartphone technology and usage is creating a playing field for QR codes like never before. With the ubiquitous phones and an ever increasing 2G, 3G and 4G data network coverage, consumers are increasingly using their phones to equip themselves with information and interact with their surroundings. Marketers searching for new channels to reach out to consumers have happily jumped onto the QR bandwagon, very happy to engage and entice consumers with their offerings.

India outlook
QR (and other 2D) codes are flooding the Indian consumer market quite rapidly. Mobile phones that helped the Indian masses skip the landline telephone revolution are again at the centre of this revolution, this time helping leapfrog the PC-based computing age into the mobile computing era. It is estimated that 59 per cent of mobile web users in India are ‘mobile only’ and they do not or very rarely also use a desktop, laptop or tablet to access the web. Although there are no clear statistics on smartphone users in India, the number is exponentially increasing and currently stands at an estimated 752 million mobile customers with over 40 million subscribed to mobile internet. With rising end-user population of mobile phone users and falling technology costs (both handset and network), marketers are starting to use QR code-based campaigns.

Another aspect that makes India a great potential for QR code-based campaigns is the demographics. With 26.2 years as the median age of the country, the very wired Gen Y is going to play a key role in new technology adoption like never before. Their acceptance, nay, preference to use mobile phones to interact with their peers, search for information and transact with the world is a key tipping point in favour of technology-based offerings for India. QR codes are a perfect opportunity in a market such as India, where mobile phone users find it easy, intuitive and even natural to obtain information on mobile phones and then act on it. A QR code-based campaign can extend the conversation between a product and its consumer, and if backed by sound analytics, one can also measure the RoI of such campaigns.

The article is a first in the series of articles to be published on exchange4media that will give a holistic perspective on QR codes and its usage in the Indian advertising and marketing industry.

The author is Co-founder and CEO, Queaar

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Can Twitter turn the tide this year?

Industry heads opine that to get advertisers back on board, Twitter needs to work on its advertising services, bring stability in decision-making and perhaps a new leader

By Shantanu David | Feb 6, 2023 8:15 AM   |   6 min read

Twitter

When Elon Musk first (and finally) completed his purchase of Twitter at the end of October 2022, every subsequent and frequent policy change he made at the “global public square” made top headlines, with newsrooms, advertisers, industry watchers and all other stakeholders striving to keep pace with his mercurial decision-making.

Now, as changes continue to take place into 2023, the headlines have become smaller and tucked away, the industry’s attention less transfixed, and advertisers have continued their exodus, a reflection of the receding relevance of Twitter as an ad platform.

Late last week, Musk announced that Twitter would be sharing revenue for ads appearing in reply threads. The benefit, however, will be for creators who are Twitter Blue subscribers.

As previously reported by exchange4media, while Twitter is relatively low on user numbers (coming in 16th place in terms of MAU in a list dominated by Meta and Alphabet, who have billions of monthly users and potential customers), it did have a high impact, given the large presence of politicians, technocrats, journalists, and other newsmakers on the platform, making it a small, but a valuable, part of advertisers’ media buys.

However, according to Reuters, “Advertising spend on Twitter Inc dropped by 71% in December, data from an advertising research firm showed, as top advertisers slashed their spending on the social media platform after Elon Musk's takeover.”

The timing of that report by Standard Media Index (SMI) probably isn't the best for Twitter, which is reeling from an exodus of advertisers, the main source of its income at over 90%. Apart from pivoting heavily towards paid user accounts, to be available at a level of tiers, ranging from getting to the previously coveted blue tick to having an ad-free experience, Musk and Twitter have introduced a host of measures to win back advertisers, from offering limited free ads, to allowing political advertising and giving companies greater control over the positioning of their ads.

Megha Ahuja, VP- Digital Media Planning, Carat India, says that advertisers pulled back owing to the internal chaos and instability that soon followed Musk's takeover. “Keeping in mind the actions taken by the platform, brands decided to not put their reputation at stake by getting their ads showcased alongside harmful content.”

“After the Twitter Blue tick backfired, it got relaunched with modifications to claw back revenues that were going down by the day with the advertisers leaving. All the new changes are being seen in the same light as the rules and policies are being made on the go. These are based on reactions rather than the development of a robust platform,” she says.

As per the SMI report, ad spending on Twitter in November fell by 55 per cent as compared to last year. This is despite autumn and winter being traditionally a time of higher ad spends since advertisers put their brands front and centre during the holiday season.

Indeed, according to research firm Pathmatic, most of these advertisers had stopped their spending in November, the same month that Musk restored suspended accounts and released a paid account verification, which naturally resulted in parody accounts and more dubious entities impersonating major brands and corporations.

Alin Choubey, Business Head- North, FoxyMoron (Zoo Media), believes that due to a lack of clarity in vision and disruptive actions, advertisers are losing faith in the platform by the day. “Twitter lost more than two-thirds of its ad revenue in December as major advertisers shied away from it. There is still a small chance for Twitter if systematic changes come to the platform rather than it being used as a personal marketing tool for one individual.”

Earlier in January of this year, The Information reported that a senior manager at Twitter said that its daily revenue earnings were down 40 per cent as compared to the same day in 2022, even as 500 of the top advertisers on Twitter had paused spending since Musk's ascension.

Choubey believes that a new leader, better-thought-out advertising services, and stability in decision-making could take Twitter a long way from where it is right now.

And Twitter is making more moves aiming in that direction. The platform is now introducing a new ad tool called Search Keywords Ads, which empowers advertisers to have their tweets appear in the search results for certain keywords (at a price of course). This is just one of the moves aimed at resuscitating the funds flow the company needs as well as restoring some of its trust deficit.

While it is undeniable that in the last few months Twitter has been witnessing a downfall in terms of ad spends instead of stabilizing after the initial turmoil during the takeover, Siddharth Devnani, Co-Founder & Director, SoCheers, thinks the platform’s endeavour to monetise users over advertisers could work in their favour and might give them some cushion in the short term if it works out.

“From an advertiser’s point of view; advertisers who haven’t spent on Twitter ads till now will not be seen considering it anytime soon, especially amidst all the turmoil. The ones who have been seen spending so should be a point of focus for Musk and team,” says Devnani, while noting that given the pessimism in the business environment, especially in the tech communities, a quick revival story (through ad spends) for the platform seems a bit tough.

Ahuja further says that it is important to understand that public sentiment is currently against the platform. “This might not help the advertisers who are still on the platform as they may not be seen in a good light. 2023 is a year for Twitter to get its act together and stabilise mainly for the users as the brands will then follow,” elaborates Ahuja, while observing, “Additionally, we can also see that not just advertisers but brands publishing content on the platform too have considerably reduced. And in India where TikTok is not available, Meta stands to gain more from these developments.”

What 2023 and the future hold for Twitter hang in the air, in this case, the web. 

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Twitter to share ad revenue with Blue-tick subscribers

Elon Musk has said that revenue will be shared with creators for ads appearing in reply threads

By exchange4media Staff | Feb 4, 2023 8:20 AM   |   1 min read

Twitter

Elon Musk has said that Twitter will start sharing revenue for ads appearing in reply threads but to be eligible the creator needs to be a Twitter Blue subscriber.

Musk hasn't specified the quantum of the revenue being shared but the move is being seen as an attempt to woo back advertisers.

Meanwhile, Musk and Tesla have been cleared of charges of misleading investors with tweets about a Tesla buyout in 2028.

Expressing relief over the judgment, Musk tweeted:

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‘UPI is an absolute game changer’

At the launch of Dentsu-e4m Digital Advertising Report 2023, industry experts sat down for a panel discussion on India digital stack for technology and creativity in the new digital economy’

By exchange4media Staff | Feb 3, 2023 6:10 PM   |   3 min read

dentsu-e4m panel

At the launch of the Dentsu-e4m Digital Advertising Report 2023, industry leaders came together for a very insightful panel discussion on the topic, India digital stack for technology and creativity in the new digital economy

The panel had Gagan Singla, MD, blinkX by JM Financial; Prasad Pimple, Executive Vice President & Head of Digital Business Unit, Kotak Life; Medhavi Singh, Head of Enterprise - India, Criteo; and Abhijit Shah, Senior Vice President, ICICI Prudential. Rashmi Sethi, Chief Strategy Officer, Fractal Ink, a Merkle company, moderated the session.

Sethi started the session asking about the success of stack adoption and its penetration in India and globally.

Shah said, "The largest game changer for us in the industry, especially mutual funds, has been the whole digital onboarding that India stack provides. Opening a mutual funds account used to be a tedious process. But aadhar-based e-KYC works really well. Within a few seconds you can get onboard."

Prasad added, "From the perspective of any BFSI company, not just the e-KYC solution but the UPI payment and the entire ecosystem of payment gateways have changed. We all have been doing digital business for almost 15 years now, but the ease with which the customer can complete the journey online today has tremendously changed with the advent of e-KYC, c-KYC plus UPI as a payment gateway. I would say everything what we are experiencing today is helping us build that ecosystem stronger from the customer perspective."

Singla mentioned, "When digilocker came, it was something beyond imagination. I thought it is not going to work, but the way it has helped us in the e-KYC version-2 is great. The way we have used UPI has a huge value to us. For us, it is direct revenue value because in investments, with the UPI coming in the way, the customer is able to transfer the funds at the moment they buy a stock. We are able to engage with customers with UPI much better. We have leveraged UPI a lot and it has given us the ROI.”

Singh shared that Aadhar has really paved the way, but UPI was an absolute game changer. “UPI really changed the way the digital payments were happening. On one end, there is the government that is ensuring people become more and more account holders, and the other hand, there are fintech firms who are ensuring that people who do not have a bank account are able to seamlessly do digital payments. COVID accelerated the scenario,” he added.

Panelists also discussed about the unique value propositions of web-3 which enable India to lead on this front.

Singh said, "e-commerce is a huge opportunity. Also, with 5G penetration, media will also grow. There are already so many OTT platforms and they are constantly growing. Now we are hearing about the regional ones that are catering to local dialects that will actually involve the masses. So, each of those industry are seeing those opportunities that is going to change and that is primarily based on Indian Stack, because a large part of them is driven by or a tleast increasing by UPI, ONDC and 5G technologies".

Pimple added to that, "A lot of tools are available today and are fragmented but what web 3.0 can do is seamlessly build them into the discovery purchase and ongoing engagement journeys of customers with their investments".

Sethi concluded the panel discussion by saying, "To summarise the trends that we are seeing in emerging future are customer convenience, digital transactions, evolution of e-commerce,D2C, experiential marketing form, basically web 3 and extended reality and these centralise local commerce which are more hyper local".

 

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‘Search Companion’ to be unveiled soon: Sundar Pichai

During the earnings call, the Alphabet CEO also said that the company was just beginning its AI journey

By exchange4media Staff | Feb 3, 2023 11:05 AM   |   1 min read

Pichai

Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai has said that the tech giant will be coming up with an artificial intelligence-based model in the "coming weeks and months", according to media reports.

The models, as per Pichai, will work as "a companion to search". He was speaking at the company's earnings call.

The Alphabet CEO also said that the company was just beginning its AI journey.

The announcement is being seen as Google's response to the rising popularity of ChatGPT.

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Google reports just 1% revenue growth in Q4, YouTube ad revenue drops 8%

Sundar Pichai, CEO of Alphabet and Google, says the tech giant will unveil AI-based language models soon

By exchange4media Staff | Feb 3, 2023 8:33 AM   |   2 min read

google

Alphabet, parent company of Google and YouTube, missed analyst estimates for Q4 results, as YouTube’s ad revenue again suffered a year-over-year decline.
Overall, Alphabet posted revenue of $76.05 billion, up just 1%, and net income of $13.62 billion (down 34% versus $20.6 billion in Q4 2021), or earnings of $1.05 per share. Google's ad revenue fell from $61.2 billion in Q4 2021 to $59 billion in Q4 2022. YouTube ad revenue was $7.96 billion in Q4, down 7.8% from $8.63 billion a year earlier. This is YouTube’s second consecutive quarter of year-on-year ad revenue declines.

Google Cloud, meanwhile, lost $830 million in Q4, better than the $1.7 billion it lost in the same quarter last year. Google Cloud revenue rose 32%, to $7.32 billion in Q4, while the segment narrowed its operating loss to $480 million, versus an operating loss of $890 million in the year-ago quarter.

Commenting on the results, “We’re on an important journey to reengineer our cost structure in a durable way and to build financially sustainable, vibrant, growing businesses across Alphabet,” Sundar Pichai, CEO of Alphabet and Google, said in prepared remarks. He touted “great momentum” in Google’s Cloud segment, YouTube subscriptions (which the company does not break out in its earnings) and Google Pixel devices. In November, the company said YouTube Music and YouTube Premium subscriptions topped 80 million paying subscribers combined.

Pitchai shared that he expects “great momentum” in Google’s Cloud segment, YouTube subscriptions (which the company does not break out in its earnings) and Google Pixel devices. Pichai said YouTube Shorts, the platform’s TikTok-style video format, now averages more than 50 billion daily views, up from the 30 billion announced in early 2022.

'"We have significant work underway to improve all aspects of our cost structure, in support of our investments in our highest growth priorities to deliver long-term, profitable growth," Alphabet CFO Ruth Porat said in a statement.

During the earnings call, Pichai also shared that Google will make AI-based language models available soon. These models will serve as "companion to search", he said. 

Alphabet’s results are its first since it laid off some 12,000 employees in January. CEO Sundar Pichai had blamed the layoffs on Alphabet’s decision to staff up to meet the company’s demand during the pandemic.

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Google may post a drop in ad revenue in Q4 results

The total revenue is expected to show a slight increase

By exchange4media Staff | Feb 2, 2023 7:21 PM   |   1 min read

google

Google is expected to post a drop in advertising revenue as it posts its Q4 results early Friday morning, say media reports. This will the first drop in ad revenue since Covid struck in 2019 giving a huge push to the digital medium.

Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc., according to analysts, is expected to post $60.4 billion in advertising revenue for the fourth quarter, a decrease of 1.3% from the same period in 2021.

Google’s video platform YouTube is also expected to record a second straight quarter of declining revenue. Alphabet is expected to report $76.2 billion of revenue overall during the fourth quarter, a slight increase from the same period in 2021.

Alphabet said last month it would lay off about 12,000 workers, or 6% of its workforce, in response to a weakening economy. Chief Executive Sundar Pichai said during a companywide meeting that top executives would take cuts to their bonuses.

 

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Byju's lays off another more than 1000 employees

Employees from engineering, sales, logistics, marketing and communications teams have been asked to leave, say media reports

By exchange4media Staff | Feb 2, 2023 6:58 PM   |   1 min read

byju's

Edtech firm Byju's has reportedly laid off another more than 1,000 employees. The move is being seen as an attempt to cut down costs amid slow revenue growth and funding winter.

According to one of the media reports, the company is laying off employees from the engineering, sales, logistics, marketing and communications teams.

One of the reports claimed that while 300 employees from the engineering team have been sacked, the strength of the logistics team has been brought down to 50 per cent.

The company had undertaken a round of lay off in October last year when it let go of 5 per cent of its total employees, amounting to 2,500 employees out of 50,000 strong workforce. At that time founder Byju Raveendran had justified the layoffs saying it was a critical step for the company to become profitable.

 

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