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Introduction to Mobile Tagging

Mobile tags link offline tags to online content optimized for mobile delivery

Mobile tagging is a process, a technology and a marketplace.

The process of mobile tagging involves creating a visual image in a very specific format – called a tag – then deploying and displaying the tag either online or offline. You see the tag and use your mobile phone camera to snap it. When the tag is snapped you’re sorted as this triggers immediate delivery of content to your phone.

The technology of mobile tagging includes various tag formats that are recognized by a specific tag reader. The reader is an application installed on the mobile that needs to be loaded to snap the tag. Most readers only recognize one or a handful of tag formats. The reader’s job is to recognize and resolve the tag – that is to read the tag and make the connection between the tag and the information or content it is linked to via the Internet.

The marketplace of mobile tagging involves the sale/provision of tag generators – used to render the tag image - tag readers and tag management applications. Tag management applications are used to manage your inventory of tags, the information and content that the tag delivers, and to monitor the performance of your tags.

Why is it Useful?
Imagine you are one of over 4 billion mobile phone users worldwide and out and about with your phone. You see something that interests you - for example an advertisement for a product or service - and notice a tag on the ad. You snap the tag and get immediate access to information, content or promotional offers linked to the tagged item. No need to go to a website and search for what you are looking for.

Mobile tagging is instant information gratification for the mobile generation. You can read about many examples of tags in use on our blog at http://vizitag.blogspot.com.

What Do I Need to Use It?
There are some pre-requisites and not everyone has them.

• You need a camera-enabled mobile phone • You need access to the Internet ‘on the go’ • You need a tag reader installed on your phone

Most modern mobiles have a camera but not all support tag readers and not everyone either has an Internet-enabled phone or Internet connectivity while out and about in their area. So mobile tagging is not yet for everyone. But if you own a modern mobile and live in a big city you are probably set. You can also almost certainly snap tags (e.g. in a magazine) when you are at home if you have a wireless connection to the Internet.

How Do I Get Started – Snapping Tags?
Assuming you own a modern camera enabled phone and have Internet access from your phone all you need to do is download a tag reader and install it on your phone. Most tags readers are free and the download and install process takes just a couple of minutes. You can get tag readers from various Internet sites e.g. Microsoft's gettag.mobi, the Apple AppStore and from the sites of phone manufacturers such as Nokia.

Once your tag reader is installed, when you see a tag you just load the application and snap the tag. It’s that simple.

How Do I Get Started – Creating Tags?
There are dozens of sites where you can create your own tags. For example online sites that let you create a QR Code tag and download the tag image to your local PC so you can deploy and display it either online (say on your website or blog) or offline (say on a poster, t-shirt or print advertisement).

Currently there’s a limited number of options for what these generated tags can do when you snap them, but all will resolve to a URL so that some content you specify will display on a phone when the tag is snapped.

How Do I Get Started – Managing Tags?
If you want to manage an inventory of tags, say to support an advertising campaign, then you need a tag management system – like Vizitag.com. Here you can setup your own secure account to create tags for different purposes, organize your tags by meaningful categories, and link the tags to your own customized information and content that you can update whenever you need to. You can also monitor the performance of your tags.

How Much Does it Cost?
Generally mobile tagging is free to consumers and very inexpensive to try out for businesses. Currently most tag readers are a free download, few tag suppliers charge for tag usage and most tag management systems offer a free trial or low-cost monthly subscriptions. In the future, all of this may change.

Per-snap fees may be charged and tag management systems will almost certainly not be offered for free to businesses making heavy use of the functionality. Whether these costs will be passed on to the tag snapper (i.e. consumer) remains to be seen but the businesses that exploit mobile tagging for marketing and other purposes will almost certainly end up paying for mobile tagging in much the same way as they are paying for pay-per-click online advertising today.

More Stories By Stewart McKie

Stewart McKie has 25 years of IT industry experience. His education includes a MSc in Organization Consulting and a MA in Screenwriting. I was the Technology Editor of Business Finance magazine during 1995-2000 and also wrote regular features for Intelligent Enterprise magazine. I am the author of six books on accounting software and over 50 technology white papers. My current focus is my screenwriting 2.0 app called Scenepad and my supply-chain auditing app. I have managed many ERP selections and implementations of SunSystems all over the world. Currently I am engaged as the Implementation Oversight consultant for a global AX2009 rollout for a manufacturing client and as the selection consultant for pan-European ERP solution.

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