Offline Web Links! What??????

by Jeff Quipp October 29th, 2007 

Its true! The image below is a link to a web site! Its not to be clicked on though ... its an offline link that needs to be photographed from a mobile device to be activated. In this case, it may reside on a billboard, a poster on a telephone pole, an ad in a men's washroom, or a tile on a train station floor. But make no mistake ... it is a link to a website!

Shotcode Image

The image(s) and associated software is produced by ShotCode. The image (each is unique) is really just a visual barcode of a website address ... a link. The link is activated on mobile devices such as PDAs and mobile phones, that have the required software installed. Once installed, all you need do is take a picture of the image with your mobile device, the software translates the image into a web address, and then launches your mobile browser to the url specified in the image.

Just imagine ... seeing the image on the side of a bus shelter, snapping a picture of it, and being delivered to a web page that tells you your bus is only 2 stops away. Its tremendous. Some companies are likely to start embedding these into their products. Perhaps municipalities will start selling sidewalk advertising. Guided tours can now be directed via the web. The applications are endless .... its genius really!

So, why am I, a search/social marketer talking about ShotCode? Because, its an opportunity. Our jobs as search/social marketers is to drive business for clients through their web sites ... and this opportunity seems like a virtually untapped door into many businesses. Of course, its only an opportunity if people start loading the software to their mobile devices. So start downloading.

Edit: apparently the team at SEOmoz posted about a similar technology about a month ago called QR codes here. Its a good read, and goes into much more depth.

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13 Responses to “Offline Web Links! What??????”

  1. Wiep says:

    That's awesome.
    I'm filling out a request form for 200,000 coasters with URL print right now :)

  2. Linda Bustos says:

    Interesting that it would be designed like a bulls-eye. These could go on business cards, too I suppose. Is there a size specification for what will work and what won't?

  3. Of course, uptake by other companies is key to the success of something like this, but it's an intriguing idea.

    The downside is the software requirement, but that's an inevitability.

    Excellent idea, though…

  4. Jeff Quipp says:

    @ Wiep … great idea! Imagine beer companies giving such coaster to bars, to try to convince patrons to try their beers, participate in a contest, join in a trivia challenge, etc.

    @ Linda … absolutely. In fact, business cards could realistically take a different form now.

    @ Wayne – you're spot on … uptake is the key.

  5. Tad Chef says:

    Wow! I already see SEOs teaming up with street artists…

  6. Jeff Quipp says:

    @ Tad … think StuntDubl will put that on his job board?

  7. Wiep says:

    This is interesting as well: (from the SEOmoz post's comments)

    Links based on pictures only. Shoot a picture of a car and get redirected to the web page of that exact model. Awesome.

  8. Jeff Quipp says:

    @ Wiep … great find! The potential applications, and evolution of applications is nothing short of mind boggling.

  9. Tad Chef says:

    Yeah, I bet. Nokia is doing something similar but with RFID btw.

  10. Heidi Cool says:

    Sprint is doing something similar where the barcodes look more like crossword puzzles. They loaned our university a batch of the accompanying phones this summer and our orientation team had students use them on a scavenger hunt. It looked pretty cool. Of course seeing the differences in the barcodes I expect we're going into yet another betamax vs. VHS situation, in which the different versions compete for buy-in.

  11. Jeff Quipp says:

    Good point Heidi! I also imagine companies will want the codes to resemble their logos where possible too. That would certianly be a leg up to someone in the space.

  12. jim says:

    It's a very attractive idea.

    However, why not simply put on your web address. Take a picture of it then text recognition can either store the address for you on the phone or send you to the site?

    That means people without mobile phones can jot it down. Or if they go past in their car too quickly they can at least try and decipher the smeared image of the web site address.

  13. […] a surprising and silent move Google has stopped offering QR codes in the Google Places dashboard of […]