Over the past year, marketers have embraced mobile codes such as Quick Response codes and other mobile components in their campaigns. But in the past six months, a different type of mobile code, one involving audio activation has gained traction in commercials, television shows and music videos. These codes, nicknamed “Audible QR codes” provide users with mobile-enabled content after they use their smartphone to respond to audio prompts.

With audible codes, smartphone apps quickly listen, process and respond to pre-recorded audio prompts, such as character voices on TV shows or slogans on commercials. The app then provides the audience with additional and often interactive content. The popular mobile music discovery application Shazam has been a dominant player so far, using its ancillary offering, Shazam for TV, to open new marketing opportunities for brands.

Here are five ways audible QR codes can help brands amplify a message:

  1. Song Recognition
  2. Shazam has long been used as “that cool app that figures out songs.” The app helps wayward music seekers learn the details of nearby songs. When listeners Shazam or “tag” a song, purchase information on iTunes and Amazon.com pops on screen, along with the song’s title and artist information. Brands can follow this model by offering coupons or discounts for featured products when a listener uses Shazam or a propriety app to tag commercials airing on the radio.

  3. Brand Partnerships
  4. When Dockers looked for ways to maximize the budget spent on an ad during Super Bowl XLIV in 2010, it turned to the audible QR concept and inserted a Shazam logo during the commercial. The ad linked to exclusive pages on the Dockers website where users could engage with the brand further by re-watching the commercial, downloading the song used in the commercial or learning more about the overall campaign.  Pepsi* and Pillsbury recently jumped onboard as well, with Pillsbury ads linking to holiday recipes, and Pepsi soon-to-air ads offering sweepstakes entries alongside the PepsiMax app download link. These brands are looking to leverage commercial spends with additional user engagement.

  5. Reward Your Audience
  6. App Savvy fans were rewarded when SyFy aired a Shazamable midseason finale of “Eureka in 2010. Promos for ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomyimplemented audible QR codes as well, rewarding the show’s tech-conscious viewership with a sneak peek at scenes from the upcoming season. Brands seeking similar success with TV-ready QR codes must consider the devotion, fervor and tech literacy of their respective audiences.

  7. Utilize Online Video
  8. Online video views continue to rise, especially in the 18 to 34 demographic, according to a June 2011 Nielsen study. Therefore, those considering implementing audible QR codes should consider inserting tag-able audio in online video such as how-tos, branded commercials or even music videos. Hip-hop superstar Lil Wayne made a splash when a Shazamable version of his music video “How to Love” appeared on VEVO in August. After tagging the video, users were entered into a contest for an all-inclusive trip to meet the rapper. The video has been viewed over 40 million times in just three months, ranking in the top three of Lil Wayne’s VEVO catalog of official music videos.

  9. Geolocation Check-ins
  10. Geolocation technologies endured a murky 2011, but audible QR codes may foster new commerce-driven check-ins. Location-specific sounds, such as a buzzer at a sporting event, could be used to trigger nearby discounts or specials. In the case of a sporting event, users could gain access to half price concessions at a specific vendor in the stadium. To encourage in-store purchases over ecommerce, there is an opportunity for creative brick and mortar promotions using the audible QR code applications.

Next Steps

Broadcast media and mobile devices are growing more integrated and Shazam is one way brands are making this happen. Though we’re only a few campaigns into this audible QR code evolution, it’s important to think about what’s next. While Shazam isn’t the only audible recognition service, Shazam for TV has been embraced to this point, but competitors are likely to follow.

What types programs could be a fit for this type of partnership?

*PepsiCo is an Edelman client.

Image credit: Vectorportal

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