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OMA Mobile Codes Standard Increases Global Potential for Mobile Advertising and Mobile Commerce

Two-dimensional (2D) and one-dimensional (1D or linear) barcodes are optical, machine-readable representations of encoded data containing digital content. Examples might include a URL, business card contact information, or a link to more elaborate information such as coupons, product details or advertising promotions. Camera-equipped devices can now easily read a variety of barcodes using interpretive software, such as a ‘barcode scanner app’. This capability may be pre-loaded by the manufacturer or downloaded to devices after purchase. OMA Mobile Codes (MC) Enabler V1.0 currently covers 2D mobile barcodes; the OMA MC Client performs functions including the barcode scanner app.

2D Direct and Indirect Codes

There are two methods with which a smart phone or other device interacts with a barcode. A Direct Code is quickly decoded by the MC Client; based on the content, the MC Client may invoke other specific functions (e.g. launch the browser, or insert contact information into the device address book).

In contrast, decoded data from an Indirect Code in the form of an identifier is used by the MC Client to communicate with a network server (‘Code Management Platform’) to look up the content intended by the Code Publisher. Indirect Codes allow an added level of flexibility and control for a code publisher to track campaign analytics and dynamically update the associated content without changing the 2D barcodes already distributed (in magazine print ads, packaging, billboards, etc.).

Potential for the Mobile Codes Ecosystem

Mobile barcodes have seen major adoptions with Direct Codes in Japan as well as early successes with both Direct and Indirect Codes in Europe and North America. The well-publicised potential of mobile advertising and mobile commerce across the globe will be greatly enhanced by widespread use of mobile codes. The following examples point to encouraging signs of momentum in the use of mobile barcodes worldwide:


OMA MC Enabler

OMA MC Enabler does not cover barcodes displayed on mobile devices as coupons or tickets. Those can be read by other devices such as point-of-sale of physical access readers of some kind.

Why Standardize?

Despite regional successes, lack of universal interoperability between different implementations of barcode symbologies, data encoding formats and barcode scanner app behavours continues to present challenges. This fragmentation hinders the wide adoption of mobile code readers as well as the deployment of mobile codes for ubiquitous use in advertising and promotion. OMA members have created a global standard that will help create momentum for worldwide adoption and spur the growth of an emerging mobile codes ecosystem in all markets that ensures interoperability and uniform user experience.

OMA Mobile Codes—Who Benefits?

  • Users will have a new “no-thumbing, scan and receive” experience that cuts through multiple clicks navigation and quickly retrieves content posted on the Internet.
  • Code Publishers will have a consumer friendly response mechanism to improve effectiveness of all types of calls-to-action in mobile marketing and commerce; with Indirect Codes, extensive analytics can be used to measure campaign performance.
  • Operators, marketers and retailers can deploy mobile codes based on a single global standard for lower cost deployment (with Indirect Codes supported by interoperable backend systems), and improved access to customers worldwide.
  • Vendors will see increased demand for reliable code reading features across all mobile devices as well as for code resolution servers for indirect codes.

OMA Mobile Codes Use Cases

OMA Mobile Codes Case 1

Use Case 1: Interactive Real Estate Listings
The Code Publisher, in this case a Real Estate Agency, has set up an interactive app for listing of properties. Prospective buyers scan the barcode and invoke the interactive app that provides a variety of sales information, such as a virtual tour, navigable neighborhood map for retail shops, schools, facilities, etc.

OMA Mobile Codes Case 2

Use Case 2: Delivery Cost Calculation
The Code Publisher, such as a generic company or online merchant, has set up an application with the postal service that automatically calculates the shipping cost for an item based on details of the item associated with the barcode. The shopper scans the product barcode in an advertisement to find the total cost of the item including shipping charges at various priority delivery levels.

OMA Mobile Codes Case 3Use Case 3: Interactive Taxi Hiring
The Code Publisher (Taxi company) has set up an interactive application that simplifies the hiring of a taxi cab. The user scans the barcode and completes the order via voice or text on their mobile device. If location information is available from the user’s device, the ordering process can be completely automated without further user interaction, including up to the minute arrival time, which can even be updated in real time.


Basic Functionality and Operations for Mobile Codes: Direct and Indirect

Direct Codes —All published content is embedded in the 2D Barcode

  • MC Client decodes data from the barcode symbology and interprets the data according to the MC Direct Code data format; data is consumed by device functions.
  • No interaction with network server is required to resolve the Direct Code.

Indirect Codes—2D Barcode data contains an ‘Identifier’ that needs to be resolved

  • MC Client decodes data from the barcode symbology and extracts the Indirect Code Identifier (ICI) according to the MC Indirect Code data format.
  • ICI is always forwarded to the Home CMP for processing (e.g. resolution of the ICI or discovery of the Remote (Resolving) CMP via a MC Registry, or equivalent.
  • Virtually infinite ICI address space enables highly granular association with any individually identifiable object (e.g. multi-layer catalogue items, customer accounts).
  • MC network component ‘Registry-IDs’ and ‘Routing Prefixes’ are assigned by OMNA.

For more information about the Mobile Codes V1.0 Enabler and other OMA Specifications and to see their definitions, please visit:


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