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Local Paper Uses QR Codes for, Well, Everything

Let's Eat Out Menus is a new magazine format launched in Spotsylvania County, Virginia (via the Free Lance-Star) that features menus from local restaurants and ads from nearby attractions and businesses in Fredericksburg and the counties of Stafford and Spotsylvania.

It is a small publication, whose next edition won't arrive until April but whose extensive use of QR codes have rendered the timeliness issue moot. They are placed next to each menu or ad so the merchants can change them on a weekly basis. One week they could link to a special, the next, to a contest people can enter. The publication comes with a magnetic strip on the back to attach to a refrigerator door or filing cabinet.

The magazine first rolled out in Austin, Texas last year and eventually became a finalist in the seventh annual Stevie Awards for Women in Business in 2010. Today Let's Eat Out Menu magazines are available in Austin, Charlottesville, Lynchburg and Richmond. The Free Lance-Star reports that there are Quantico and North Stafford edition under way.

Exploding Use

It is not surprising that the magazine seized on QR codes to deliver its advertisers’ messages: in general magazines’ use of mobile action codes, including all 2D barcodes, QR codes, Microsoft Tags, and watermarks, exploded in 2011, rising 439% from Q1 to Q4, according to a new study from Nellymoser.

Glamour’s SnapTag Campaign

A more typical use than Let’s Eat Out, however, can be seen in such campaigns as one used by Glamour magazine last year. It embedded a SnapTag on its September cover–alongside the cover model of the month, Rinanna–resulting in more than 100,000 scans. Besides the 100,000 scans, the code also drew 50,000 Facebook likes and 500,000 interactions of some kind.

681 Action Codes in November

The total number of action codes in the top 100 US magazines by circulation jumped 64% quarter-over-quarter in Q4, Nellymoser reports, rising from 1155 to 1189. November’s 681 action codes was the most of any month in 2011, up from 278 in July and 88 in January.

Advertisers were the primary driver, the report found: in January, there were 7 advertising codes for each editorial code, by December, that ratio had nearly reached 25 to 1. There has also been a relatively steady increase in the percentage of ad pages containing at least one code. In December 2011, 8.36% of ad pages contained at least one code, representing 45% growth from 5.76% in September and 135% growth from 3.53% in March.

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