I thought this was pretty cool and it ties into online video, so why not. It's a unique way to tie physical, hard-copy media into online content. USA Today, the newspaper is starting to use Microsoft Tags. They will feature at least one Tag in each print section daily. Readers can scan the Tag with their mobile device for direct access to videos and online content.

The Tags will provide readers with access to USA TODAY's daily photo galleries and the latest financial news and sports scores, as well as other video and digital features.

"This initiative is part of our goal to bring together our digital and print platforms to provide our readers easier access to special features from the newspaper. We are proud to be one of the first U.S. newspapers to offer these daily to readers as well as to advertisers who can also take advantage of this new feature," said Dave Hunke, president and publisher of USA TODAY.

Microsoft Tag is a mobile 2D barcode that lets you seamlessly connect your offline materials to the digital world. This is simply brilliant. It means you can read the newspaper while on your commute, at the cafe or whatever and scan the tags and get further information and assets online. I'm eager to see how they will implement this and I wonder if it is going to lead to them including ads in that content. I'm also curious if it will simply be links to existing content or if it will be specially-made content.

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It is very similar in concept to the QR code but also has some advantages that you can read about on their site. Readers can go to http://gettag.mobi on their mobile devices to download the free Microsoft Tag reader application. Here is what is available from the Microsoft Tag page:

Acer, Apple, Blackberry, Dopod, Google, HP, HTC, LG, Motorola, Nokia, Palm, Pantech, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, T-Mobile, WPPLH

or Download for:
Android, Blackberry, iPhone, J2ME Java 2 Micro Edition, Symbian S60, Symbian S60 1st Edit, Symbian S60 2nd Edit, Symbian S60 3rd Edit, Symbian S60 5th Edit, Windows Mobile 5.0 - 6.1, Windows Mobile 6.5Windows Phone 7

  • Chris South

    Nice article - Over here in New Zealand we worked with a large national magazine last year to use MS Tags on their front page. Worked very well and received some positive feedback. Details are here - http://www.hardlink.co.nz/2010/06/acp-media-augment-trade-a-boat-magazine-with-hardlink/

  • Guest

    There's little doubt that this is the 1st of many media JV deals using QR Code technology

    • Christophor Rick

      It makes sense. They can cut down on costs by cutting out material in the hard copy versions and pushing people online. Oh wait, that wasn't really what they said they're doing :) They are planning on offering more, driving more traffic to their websites where they make more on advertising. No wait... see, it's a win-win for them. You buy the paper - they sell ads. You go online - they sell ads. Plus, you get the information you were looking for, hopefully. Of course, it might all be slanted, spun and contorted into a form barely recognizable as the truth from time to time, but hey, it's American media.