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NeuStar targets brands with new bar code interoperability

August 21, 2009

dianeLAS VEGAS – Short code registry NeuStar has launched new technology that allows mobile phones to scan and process two-dimensional bar codes regardless of the mobile service provider, scanning technology used or type of bar code symbology.

Based on open standards, the global pilot program is designed to show interoperability among leading bar code campaign managers, symbologies and code reader technology via NeuStar’s third-party central clearinghouse and registry services.

“We’re creating a ubiquitous interoperable solution just like short codes,” said Diane Strahan, vice president of mobile services at NeuStar, Sterling, VA.

“What NeuStar is trying to do is take the third-most popular mechanism on the phone – the camera – and make it become the next direct response vehicle,” she said.

Program participants comprise 3GVision, Mobile Discovery, NeoMedia Technologies and Mobile Tag – all key bar code scanning players in Japan, Australia, France and the United States.

ScanBuy, New York, is the only major bar code player not to participate in this effort.

Creating the underlying infrastructure for interoperability may accelerate the use of mobile coupons and bar codes for marketing campaigns.

NeuStar is targeting brands, mobile service providers and mobile marketing firms with this new global bar code interoperability. As a result, wireless carriers will also benefit from the increased revenue.

The advantages are not lost on mobile bar code specialist NeoMedia.

“It’s important to prove the interoperability of a standard system and I think it’s been a blocker before,” said Iain McCready, CEO of NeoMedia, Atlanta.

“If agencies and brands are confident they can reach the widest possible audience, it makes it very easy for them to engage and participate [in bar code programs],” he said.

First step to mass market
What NeuStar’s program does is link the various bar code readers in the market to create an open and scalable service for brands, consumers and wireless carriers.

“It makes a mass market,” said Pete Langlois, senior manager of mobile services at NeuStar.

Linear or stripped EAN/UPC bar codes are typically used for inventory and point-of-sale transactions.

But the 2D bar codes preferred for mobile offer consumers a short cut to content, information and mobile shopping without the need to type a Web address or search for a site on the browser.

Besides linking the consumer who clicked the bar code to a Web address, indirect 2D bar code systems use location, language and other data shared by the consumer. Advertisers can thus deliver dynamic, tailored content, with the added benefit of ROI measurement.

NeuStar is eyeing the potential of 2D bar codes for advertisers and brands to leverage across their packaging and print and online media buys.

“They can put a bar code in whatever traditional media they have and make it interactive in one click,” Ms. Strahan said.

NeuStar is already an established presence in mobile. All companies who need a short code – the five or six-digit number to which keywords are texted – have to be registered through NeuStar.

“It’s another solution we’re providing to brands for them to directly engage with their customers,” Ms. Strahan said.

“It’s actually what NeuStar does,” she said. “We play a central role to allow an ecosystem or marketplace to scale and service the needs of all the players.”

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Mickey Alam Khan is editor in chief of Mobile Commerce Daily, Mobile Marketer and Luxury Daily. Reach him at

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