Decoded: Magazines' Best-Performing Ads with 2-D Barcodes

These Ads Lead the Competition for Getting Readers to Scan

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The spread of 2-D barcodes and icons through magazines hasn't been matched by independent data on whether readers actually use them -- until now.

Four percent of readers who noted ads with 2-D barcodes in the first half of this year actually took out their phones and snapped a picture at least once, new research from GfK MRI Starch Advertising Research has revealed.

But some ads got readers to activate the codes far more often, including the top performers of the first half in the slideshow below.

Perhaps the biggest surprise is that several of the most successful ads don't explain the 2-D codes at all, suggest what readers will get for scanning them or explain how to use them in the first place.

Others explain how to use the codes, but in the process use up space they might have used to tell readers what they get for taking a picture. Microsoft's high-performing ad spread, for example, only says this next to its Microsoft Tag: "Get the free tag reader for your phone at" But 16% of the people who noted that spread took a picture of the code, GfK MRI Starch found, far above the norm.

Just a few of the winning ads really seem to try to entice readers into scanning. "Scan to watch the unforgettable beach vacation that awaits," Wild Dunes Resort says next to its 2-D barcode. Of the people who noted that ad, according to GfK MRI Starch, 15% took a picture of its code.

Here are the best-performing magazine ads with 2-D barcodes in the first half of this year.

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