Allure Magazine has partnered with Microsoft Tag - the company's proprietary mobile barcode system - to give away more than $725,000 worth of free beauty and fashion products to readers. It is largest deployment of Microsoft Tag since it left its beta earlier this year. Allure is publishing 36 Tags - Microsoft's 2-D bar codes - in its "Free Stuff" issue for August. The magazine typically holds this promotion every year; this one, however, is the first in which readers can use their smartphones to enter the 159 giveaways - each with a day, time, and deadline. There are 32,358 products in all.
The technology works like this: the magazine page - there will be some 35 editorial in all devoted to the campaign - will feature these Tags that readers are to scan. Then, a text-message is sent 15 minutes before the giveaway for the products on that page. There is also a master Tag for the contest calendar that can be scanned for readers that want to try for all of the giveaways.
Products range from fragrance from Giorgio Armani ($39.50), skin care from Lancome ($155), a Calvin Klein handbag ($850) and a jacket from Armani Exchange ($550). The magazine is also letting people enter to win via computer as it has done in previous years.
Enhancing Microsoft Tag
Microsoft Tag left beta in May, according to GoMo News. Essentially the technology is similar to existing offerings on the market, although Microsoft is talking about enhancing it with tracking, location and measurement services so that advertisers can get an accurate idea of how effective a marketing Tag has been, it said. Anyone with a camera phone can download the Microsoft Tag reader. Then the app is used to scan a Tag, with the phone taking whatever action the Tag has stored. A Tag can direct a phone to a website, a business card, a phone call or an SMS.
Other services that provide comparable services, GoM said, include QR Codes, Datamatrix and Aztec. More is not necessarily better either in this case, it added:
"If you ask anyone involved with the barcode industry (and we have), they’ll tell you that what's needed more than anything else is standardization. It’s impossible to build a truly effective services ecosystem when there are so many competing barcode formats fighting for attention."
Competition Heats Up
Mashable, though, thinks Microsoft Tag has a chance to make serious headway in the market. It has partnered with several Conde Nast titles, including W and Golf Digest. Conde Nast decided to use Microsoft Tag in its Golf Digest editorial in their November issue and placed about a dozen Tags magazine that linked to a golf improvement videos, Senior Global Media Strategist Anna Kim-Williams said (via Mashable). Then Conde Nast extended Tags to their advertisers, who began using the technology across their own channels, she added. Now the group is targeting several verticals, including retail, real estate, consumer products and museums.