Microsoft might be late to the cameraphone-able barcode game, but it appears to be making up for lost time. 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. Sounds like Microsoft has found some momentum, and they claim to have gained a lead in the publishing industry already. Obviously, the analytics, customization, and anti-fragmentation nature appeals to Big Barcode, but we'll have to wait and see if Tag is the ultimate choice of the everyman. Plus, won't ads be able to hack our brains and implant URLs at-will soon enough? We're holding out for that.
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Microsoft Tag Growth Accelerates Exponentially With More Than 2 Billion Tags Printed

Tag secures lead as the preferred 2-D barcode solution for publishers.

REDMOND, Wash., Oct. 26 /PRNewswire/ -- Microsoft Tag today announced impressive trend data to demonstrate the exponential growth of its industry-leading 2-D barcode technology:
  • 1 billion Tags have been printed in the past four months, bringing the total to 2 billion Tags printed since its January 2009 launch.
  • 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.
  • To date, more than 100,000 Tag accounts have been set up to add interactive digital experiences to brand advertising and marketing campaigns.
  • Since August, Tag has been used in more than 100 million magazine issues.
  • 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.

"Consumers are rapidly embracing smartphones, which opens a new marketing channel for savvy businesses. Microsoft Tag gives brands and their agencies a powerful way to engage this growing set of connected consumers and create immersive experiences that connect the digital world to the physical world," said Aaron Getz, general manager of Microsoft Tag. "With Tag, businesses can build compelling customer scenarios to drive engagement and retention, easily measure the effectiveness of their campaigns, and explore new merchandising opportunities for their products."

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. Originally launched in January 2009, Tag momentum has been growing since it emerged from beta in May, with brands and their agencies leveraging Tag across their online, print, outdoor, retail and broadcast efforts to deeply engage consumers with a range of digital content.

Publishing in particular has experienced great success with a wide variety of Tag uses in many different editorial and advertising scenarios. Nellymoser Inc., an industry leader in delivering turnkey interactive video and rich media marketing campaigns to mobile phone users, recently conducted a study of how magazine editors, publishers and advertisers have adopted 2-D barcodes. The study, to be released in early November, found that Microsoft Tags were used more than 80 percent of the time in more than 100 magazines that contained 2-D barcode campaigns in advertising or editorial content.

"Based on our research, Tag is currently the publishing industry's preferred 2-D barcode technology by a wide margin," said John Puterbaugh, founder and CEO of Nellymoser. "The lead is so significant in the publishing industry that Microsoft Tag is the clear front-runner as a next-generation QR code."

More information about how Microsoft Tag can power digital marketing is available at http://tag.microsoft.com. People can follow the Tag community on Facebook athttp://www.facebook.com/microsofttag or on Twitter athttp://www.twitter.com/microsofttag.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.