Spartacus Gets a Proprietary Code

Starz Entertainment is using AT&T’s proprietary Datamatrix Code in its poster campaign for Spartacus, Gods of the Arena. If you use any scanner app other than AT&T’s and succesfully scan the code you will see a text string ‘5415400001011136’. If you use AT&T’s scanner the code resolves to the film’s mobile site (images below).

What do you think? Please leave a comment below…

Spartacus poster with a proprietary 2d barcode
Screenshot of the Spartacus mobile siteAnother view of the mobile site screenshot

Thank you Patrick of QR Arts for your help and the screenshots.

11 thoughts on “Spartacus Gets a Proprietary Code”

  1. interesting concept – during the infancy stages of 2D when the majority of consumers are already confused, introduce two variables at the same time Data Matrix rather than QR and the exclusivity to a particular network.

    Can we add a web cam to watch the people walking away shaking their heads?

    Standards help the technology gain momentum.

  2. Big companies using/creating proprietary systems are doing nothing but making noise that disturbs the natural growth of QR.

    Once Marketing, finance and strategy discover the 2D codes world their question is: how can we make money out of it?

    There are millions of things (and dollars) to be done AROUND 2D codes, but creating proprietary systems is not helping anyone and confuses the end-user.

    The arrogance of telcoms leads them to think they can own a market (the same thing happened in Spain with BIDI/EzCodes and Telefónica). But things change, fortunately.

  3. The way I see it QR=homebrew DM=business.

    I applaud AT&T for supporting both QR and DM (as well as UPC/EAN).

    Their indirect DM implementation is not unlike MS-Tag in that it offers marketers a way to create and manage campaigns, gather useful opt-in demographics, and security.

    DM is an ISO standard, where QR isn’t. DM has been used for years in supply chain applications since the symbology is better for printing in small areas, and easier to resolve with low-end cameras.

    Bottom line, QR and DM can co-exist, and people need to get off their high horses and embrace the technology as a whole, and not start silly wars over a symbology.

    Business wants a secure, and manageable way to conduct marketing campaigns, and AT&T’s platform provides that for them.

    I’m looking forward to seeing how marketing companies use the technology to help consumers engage with their campaigns.

  4. Both good points and the pool of opportunity is big enough for lots of players.

    One point however, when it comes to standards and security QR does offer both when done with professional tools (Denso)by professionals in a secure environment with strong analytics. Problem is too many people are using the home grown stuff and not even considering standards or security.

    A single native reader on devices will take this a long way as well.

    I’m looking forward to the ride!

    Good weekend all – go Packers!

  5. @Dean, I like the idea of a single native reader. Perhaps the device manufactures could have a switch in the camera app (like they do for camera and video mode). They could add an additional switch for “scanner”.

    Adoption of the technology would be greatly enhanced since every capable device would have a scanner built in.

  6. Thanks for the clarification Roger. My apologies.

    I enjoy reading this blog, and hope that the industry blossoms.

  7. QR, DM and 2D will all die their death (already being dated technologies) because of the blatant arrogance and greed of companies such as AT&T creating these kind of proprietary, confusing and anti-market-friendly proprietary formats.

    I can live with QR and MS Tag, but as the market continues to fracture, consumers will start ignoring all codes as they are simply TOO MUCH WORK to figure out.

    Let’s get NFC working, standardized and into the marketplace and forget about QR, DM and 2D readers altogether.


  8. Well, this is strange. OK, I know they want everyone to use their scanner, but this means the penetration will be much lower.

    Also the code resolves to a text, 5415400001011136, it would be much better if they would direct it to a mobile site.

  9. @bob, NFC is definitely coming, but it’s not similar to QR/DM/1D/MS-Tag at all.

    NFC requires hardware both in the handset and at the point of engagement. It’s primarily intended to provide a method of transacting a specific function (paying for an item at check-out, checking in at an event, transferring data…etc). The primary drivers for this technology are the creditcard companies and retailers.

    Whereas, QR/DM/1D/MS-Tag are designed to allow people to interact with normally static information (a printed page, image on a TV, on a package). The cost associated with printing a code on such things is nominal compared to the infrastructure for NFC.

    Both technologies will live for a long time, and will probably be used in conjunction with each other.

  10. There is indeed a standard for QR codes and it’s called ISO18004:2006. With none of the smart phone OS developers willing to commit to one reader as the default app the client experience is still subject to more potential failures than successes. By the way, standardization of a single reader app in this country will happen sooner than you think or believe. And, when it happens, a lot of QR code “solution” providers will be left out in the cold, looking in and wondering how they missed the train! The greatest degree of success in QR code deployment will happen if you make sure your QR codes are ISO compliant. That way, if your QR code doesn’t read on a particular device, that would be the fault of the app or the device itself and not be the fault of the QR code. When you go to one of these free or pay to play QR code generating web sites you don’t factually know what is in the QR code they generate, you may think you do but you really don’t. If they assert to be ISO compliant, force them to produce their ISO Certificate. There are so many proprietary, closed architecture readers out there that a QR code generated by one of these free sites may not be readable by a large variety of third party readers because they don’t stick to any standard. This is what Americans are seeing in QR codes today and it’s doing nothing more than to pollute and distort the end user experience and piss people off. “It didn’t work the first time, why should I try again?” Keep in mind that the ISO18004:2006 specification only defines QR codes that generate URL’s, emails, vCards and free text, that’s it, nothing more. Sticking to the ISO standard is the only insurance policy out there that your QR codes will be read by the widest possible variety of readers on most of the smart phones in this country. Here in America there is so much dis-information about what QR codes can do, how they work and how to implement them that, at least to me, it feels like Cold War propaganda. There is a huge mentality out there that is solely and completely focused on ‘FREE’. I submit that if you use “free” in a mission critical QR code deployment scenario, you deserve whatever happens to you. Mission Critical is defined by the difference between a QR code on a holiday greeting giving directions to Grandma’s house, versus a QR code on 50 million bags of potato chips. Stop thinking with blinders on and start think about corporate, educational, government and institutional requirement for mission critical. What you do on your business card is mice nuts in comparison to a national deployment for a fortune 500 company.

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