Google Print Ads Use Trackable Barcodes

My friend Heri “twittered” me this picture of a Google print ad published in the San Jose Mercury News that uses a trackable barcode (so-called QR codes). These codes come from a Google open source project called ZXing attached to their Android mobile platform. From what I understand, you basically take a picture of the code with your camera phone and it loads up a web page with more information.

QR Code Google Ad

(Flickr photo by Chika)

According to, “Google is going to trial QR codes with print advertisers. This shows that Google is going to start actively pushing bar codes, but more importantly, it shows that they’re moving more into the print area, even if it is just to link people to online services.” also had a slide from MobileCampNYC showing what Google is thinking of doing with those barcodes.


What it means: as most of you know, Google is on a quest to make all advertising trackable (therefore proving ROI to advertisers). Barcodes are one of the way (along with trackable phone numbers and URLs) to directly measure offline advertising success. Multiple companies have tried to build a business around barcodes in the past with not much success (among them Digital Convergence and NeoMedia). Going open source might be the way to create a de facto standard. Big question: I wonder if Google will be able to track the traffic going through open source deployments.

Update: Sean Owen from Google provides some additional information in the comments: “One teensy clarification — the codes are not generated by the zxing project; it’s just a decoder. And so far it is not part of Android, though we hope to release our Android client pretty soon here.”

I am Media: From Theory to Practice in 6 Days

Remember last Saturday morning when I shouted “I am media”? Want to know what happened since then? I accidentally went from theory to practice… 🙂

Robert Scoble picked up my post and confirmed my theory. My blog received 10 times more traffic than usual for two days and I’ve had many interesting conversations during the weekend. I also added many friends to Facebook, Pownce and Linkedin.

And just when I thought that wave had subsided, the magic of Facebook connected Colin Carmichael and I on Tuesday morning and put us on a mission to save Business 2.0 magazine. Alerted by my status update feed, Colin created a Facebook group dedicated to this cause and we started leveraging social media to create some buzz around the group. You can read the chronology of these events here.

The group now has about 1075 members. We’ve been adding 1 member every five minutes since the launch and all of the major industry influencers have joined the group. Since the launch, we’ve received coverage from the following major media/blogs:

Valleywag, “Facebook to the rescue!

Advertising Age, “Can Fans Save Business 2.0?

San Francisco Chronicle, “Save Business 2.0

GigaOm, “Saving Business 2.0, Facebook Style

Fast Company, “Can A Social Network Save Business 2.0?

Washington Post, “Trying to Save A Magazine Through Facebook

San Jose Mercury News, “Facebook group hopes to save Business 2.0

Business 2.0, “Can Facebook Save Business 2.0?”

I even got mentioned by name in the San Jose Mercury News article! Many Business 2.0 readers have had the chance to express their love for the magazine, many subscriptions have been sold and some people even registered on Facebook just to be part of the group! I think we’ve already made a difference in the lives of the Business 2.0 team. I think there’s a lot of things we can learn from this experience especially about the various social media vehicles working together but I’m still digesting as this is an ongoing process. It’s been a good ride so far. What a week.

One thing’s for sure: I am media!