News International aims for young readers with quick response codes in news stories

News International is looking to drive younger readers onto its mobile internet site, with the company’s mobile strategy chief revealing that its newspapers could be using quick response codes (QR codes) in its news stories within 18 months.

QR codes, already widely used by magazines, newspapers and outdoor companies in Japan, where the concept originated, look like a bar code and contain information that can by decoded by the camera on a mobile phone. The codes, which give one-touch access to information, work when a consumer takes a picture of one using their camera phone. This causes the phone’s browser to bring up the programmed URL.

Similarly, if a QR code is placed at the end of a news story, a reader could take a picture of the code to view a video or extra information.

News Group Digital head of mobile strategy Andrew Bagguley has already discussed the possibility with the editors of The Sun and News of the World and says it could realistically happen within “18 months to two years”.

Its immediate focus will be to drive the take-up of the service among advertisers.

In December of last year it launched an eight-page pull-out in The Sun newspaper, featuring advertisers such as Ladbrokes, Fox, Ford and British Airways utilising the QR code service. Ladbrokes, for example, used the code to give mobile users access to its Free Bet promotion.

Next month The Sun will be launching a second pull-out.

Bagguley says: “We’re already seeing an increase in the use of QR codes in all kinds of media. But using the QR codes is just one method of taking people to the mobile platform.”

He adds that with The Sun’s mobile internet site attracting younger users who are not necessarily readers of the newspaper, “advertisers are getting access to a new audience”.

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