Touchcodes - More intuitive than QR Codes?


As QR codes are beginning to revolutionize the convergence between the web and mobile, building new ways for brands to interact with customers, adding the power of interactivity, data & information for advertising campaigns, I have always found that it is not easy for not so tech-savvy customers to appreciate & experience the power of this technology.I believe that for successful adoption of high-end or innovative technologies, simplicity is key. QR codes still are a bit complicated for wider adoption.

In fact, a few months back in India when I was a part in an internal company marketing conference,  some of the new marketing initiatives had QR codes being integrated as a part of their campaigns. Sadly, neither the channel partners nor the sales folks nor the senior management folks knew how to use or leverage it. It left me thinking about its challenges for wider adoption amongst consumers. 

Recently, I came across an interesting technology called Touchcodes which appealed a lot to me. I loved the simplicity and ease of use. It was a lot more intuitive and did not require new learning from the average consumer.

Here's how it works:

" the new technology works by embedding  a thin layer of capacitive material in printed items like business cards, tickets, magazine pages, or product packaging. When you hold the paper to a capacitive touch screen, it acts like a set of invisible fingers tapping out a complex code that’s interpreted by a Touchcode-enabled app or website."


I believe it has some lovely applications that are very intuitive and comes naturally to us in the way we  are used to doing things :

  • Imagine a coupons being distributed by retail stores and can be read on the phone by placing the coupon on the touchscreen of the mobile. This can ensure instant redemption and also trackback mobile nos available against the existing member databases.
  • Can be in ads in magazines and the customers can just cut the card and place it on the touchscreen of their mobiles to avail of instant trial/samples.
  • Catalogs can be customized with touchcode cards for availing customized offers.
  • Imagine holding your phone in a supermarket, touching the pasta box and getting instant recipes on your mobile phone!
  • The data captured can be very useful for customized marketing programs


QR Codes are not going away soon but I do see Touchcodes being adopted soon for many applications across offline media, web & mobile.

The "natural interactivity" they come with is a compelling story for marketers.



Personal data is the new oil!

The world economic forum and many futurists believe personal data is the new asset class that will emerge as a competitive advantage for many marketers. It is important that marketers start using this data  intelligently, judiciously and in a manner that benefits and engages the customer. Else, this is one area that can have a severe backlash from customers just like the occupy the wall street episode.

Personal data may be the new oil but refining and using it sparingly with relevance is becoming a very important issue for marketers to focus and address.

Who is the owner of our personal data?

However,  there is an emerging debate around the ownership of personal data as digital outposts & sites are gathering data about customers like never before. Google recently released a new privacy policy last week which  redefines how this data will be used across all Google properties that we as their customers have an account. The new Google privacy policy reads " We may use the name you provide for your Google Profile across all of the services we offer that require a Google Account.....We also use this information to offer you tailored content – like giving you more relevant search results and ads...."

Clearly, the challenge that is becoming a key part of the debate is who is the owner of this personal data  and what of it can be used and by whom.

My View

I personally believe customers should be given control of their data. Customers must give permission about which of this data can be used basis their interests and lifestyle needs to companies, advertisers and marketers. And thereby brands can deliver value to these customers.

Imagine personal data lockers being available which customers can own for a fee(much like the demat of company shares that have happened over years across different countries & markets). There will be several central agencies that hold this data and provide access to customers  - with a front-end which provides flexibility to give permissions to customers to release this data for commercial purposes. If the past few decades were the era of credit bureaus, the coming decades are the era of data bureaus.

Imagine a customer wanting to buy a car ticks the check-box on the need or expresses the need to be a part of a community of interest.Many marketers and companies then vie to build a dialog and a conversation with the customer - not spam her with emails, irrelevant ads and messages on mobiles. All the searches that customer does then become available for relevant ads to be shown to her online. Then, the sales & marketing teams of different marketers & products unlock a new engagement platform to woo this customer.

The customer experience is therefore refined, relevant and customized like never before using the data that is in control in the hands of the customer. 

Imagine the power of this data. Imagine its efficiency. Imagine its effectivness. If personal data has to remain as the new oil, the control & flexibility must be in the hands of the customer.

How do you define success for data-driven marketing programs?

I often have been wondering off-late how does one define success for data-driven marketing programs - the reason being tons of hours are spent in understanding data, organizing data, cleansing the data make it ready for analysis and then time taken for building insights by analysts, getting organization-wide buy-in into the insights and developing a roll-out plan, measuring them etc.

The opportunity I see with all this, is a need to clearly define how is a company benefitting with all of this is increasingly becoming critical. No amount of insights & discovery is worth its weight in gold till it becomes actionable and value is returned in dollars for them. Also, another important question is how do such programs get more investments to provide more value year after year? I also don't see this being driven from one corner or department while participation from senior management teams and other departments is critical for its success, adoption and growing investments.

Interestingly as I got thinking about it, I got something from my archives which had an interesting reference to how to define success by Pat LaPointe.

He has got a lovely definition of defining success. Here's the forumula according to him which may be worth looking at:

MNPV Formula for Success

It is a simple summation of all experiences of transforming insights into action and the value it created divided by the number of resources consumed to get this value and this is raised to the power of perception!

From my experience, I agree with him that the hard part is transforming the insights into action in any company. Also, perception of quality plays a critical role as enterprise-wide buy-in is critical for such programs as they need collaboration from other departments like sales, customer service, IT, channels etc. So, continued success of such programs must be exponentially raised to the perception and alignment of metrics & hence the value each of them get from such initiatives.

Would love to hear any other method of measuring sucess of data-driven marketing programs.