Wednesday, October 13, 2010

An Introduction to QR codes

What are QR codes?

QR (Quick Response) codes are similar to bar codes, but they are two dimensional and therefore these codes can hold a lot more information than a standard barcode found on many products (up to 10 numerical digits).

QR Codes allow everyday items to become a website (print to mobile to web messaging), a QR code can be used to store information such as text, URLs or any other data. If the QR code is being used to store numerical data only 7089 digits can be stored. For alphanumeric data up to 4296 characters can be stored.

QR codes can be used anywhere that printed material may exist (magazines, signs, webpages etc.) as a convenience way of allowing users to access some information without having to type any text, all the user needs to do is scan the QR code with their device and the QR code will be decoded and acted upon based on its content.

Who is using them?

QR codes have been around for some time now, a few examples of QR codes being used in Marketing can be found over at a Mashable Blog post (Jan 09).

Currently the majority of QR codes are used to provide a “tell me more” function with the QR code appearing on albums, posters etc. which when scanned take the user to a URL which provides more information about product.

But the codes can be used for E-ticketing applications. In this case a code can be generated and sent to a mobile phone, when the owner of the mobile phone arrives the QR code is scanned and then marked as used so it cannot be re-used. This reduces the requirement to print and post actual tickets and if the recipient loses their code they can just request a new one via text or email.

Coca-Cola have been using QR codes to allow Japanese customers to collect loyalty points for free drinks.

The Flashlight Search Marketing Team at Rocktime report, that they have seen QR codes used on a number of offline items including:

Business Cards
Art and Tatoos
Fashion Items

The most exciting campaign they (Flashlight) have seen (to date) using QR codes was back in August 2010, where a Russian mobile provider MTS launched a digital campaign inviting consumers to play a weekly adventure game using their smartphone in order to win a prize, see above picture and read more about it over at the Brand Republic website.

Even Facebook has its own QR Code community, full of interesting oddities, ideas and discussion.

How to activate a QR code?

Many modern phones now come with a QR code reader installed as standard, these include Android phones, Nokia phones running S60 3rd Edition or newer and Blackberry’s with Messenger 5.0 or newer.

There are a number of free QR code reading apps available for both iPhones and Android Phones. These can be obtained via the iTunes App Store and the Android Market. These apps allow the user to scan the QR code and perform an action based on their content.

Android: Scanner often installed as standard.
iPhone: Apps available via the iTunes App Store.
Blackberry: Scan a group barcode option in the BBM menu.
Nokia Symbian: Has a barcode scanner which can read QR codes.
Nokia Maemo: Uses “mbarcode” to read QR codes.

Rocktime and QR codes

We can produce the codes and then our clients can print them somewhere, we can then provide statistics about the number of times the QR code was used within the clients content management system.

If you need any help or inspiration in using QR codes in your business.

Contact us

Author: Andy Edwards (Ed)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Welcomed New Feature in Google Analytics

Weighted sort is a welcomed new feature in Google Analytics for all of us who have been using column sorting and desiring a way to have actual, useful meaning behind it. Google introduce the new weighted sort feature over at their blog, and have provided the above video to help explain further. 

When somethings new in Web Analytics the first place I go is Avinash Kaushik’s Blog, he is a total Analytics genius/god amongst Web Analytic Managers.

I was first introduced to Avinash after his book ‘Web: Analytics an Hour a Day’ was recommended to me on a Web Trends Analytics course (about 4 yrs ago). I was quickly made aware of Avinash’s great ability to make Web Analytics almost human, explaining the finer points in Simple English, providing you with situations that you can refer to, on your own website. I highly recommend it.

I visited / turned to, Avinash’s blog to find out more about the new Google Analytic feature and I wasn’t disappointed. The blog post is rather long, but it is all needed to help understand what he describes as ‘magic’. 

A great sum up of the new tool was in Avinash's reply to a readers blog comment who 
mentioned that the new feature was similar to Google Analytic’s ‘Advanced Filters’.

I will share with you that snippet visit & read the full blog post here: 'End of Dumb Tables in Web Analytics Tools! Hello: Weighted sort’.
And note, like I have, that he has a new (Oct 2009) book Web Analytics 2.0 which is definitely going on my Amazon Wish List this Christmas.

The blog comment on Avinash’s Blog that sums up the 'weighted sort feature' well:

“I suspect in everyone's life it is about volume. :) But how do you focus on: 1. Where are we getting less volume where we should get a lot and 2. Where is it that we are getting lots of volume but we can improve a lot more. You can filter using Advanced Filters, but that still leaves you with thousands of rows of data where you have to apply judgment and pick and choose and figure out how to separate the wheat from the chaff. Weighted Sort was built exactly with that goal in mind: To make it even more efficient for you to find "interestingness" in thousands of rows of data – and without you making guesses.

Then you apply advanced filters.

If you first do advanced filters and then weighted sort you might filter out some low volume sites that present the most interesting opportunities. If you do weighted sort and then advanced filter you won't have that problem. I want to stress that I am not saying advanced filters are not great or that you don't need them. Weighted sort is just one more tool in your arsenal”

Rocktime's Flashlight Team are eager to help you illuminate your web analytic tables, feel free to call us to discuss how Web Analytics can bring value to your business.

Author: Sarah Griffiths

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Social Media and Mobile Platform

MePlease has announced the launch of its social media and mobile platform, which enables businesses to connect with customers on their mobile, along with offering very easy social media sharing. This integrated social media and mobile platform, will help transform relationships between businesses and customers via social media & mobile marketing.

We are very excited indeed !!

Last week we heard (via: New Media Age) that MePlease had partnered with Pizza Express to help power the voting of their recent “Create Your Pizza Challenge”. If you happen to visit a Pizza Express Restaurant between 18th October to November 14th, you may note an on table display to vote for one of five pizza finalists. People participating will also have the option to post their opinion directly to Facebook, to further encourage viral spread for the brand.

Why not pop into a Pizza Express next week and try it out, alternatively view this video for a demonstration on how Me Please works in situ.

MePlease In Action at PizzaExpress from MePlease on Vimeo.

Although MePlease is similar to sites such as FourSquare (which we blogged about back in June), the difference about MePlease is, that it's largely powered by SMS, so it will work on any phone (ie; not just smart phones), suiting both National brands and small businesses.

MePlease is such a great idea !! Secretly wish it was ours...

The mobile platform provides business to customer engagement via voting, competitions, generate customer feedback and will also encourage customer acquisition, retention and most importantly drive footfall. A number of high street names have already signed up, and as we consider letting our clients know about this portal, we are keeping up to date with the Me Please news over at their blog:

The only critique we would give is the name ‘me please’ as you can imagine a lot of people saying this in social media (which will appear in search engines). “can you review this site for me please”, “can you look at this link for me please” etc...However after writing that, although Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) would help if you had heard about the brand and wanted to be part of it, SEO wouldn’t be as relevant as the activity would be virally spread.

Interesting stuff....

If you want to discuss more about mobile marketing and social media strategies and how they could fit with your business, feel free to call the Rocktime Flashlight team, so they can then view your integrated approach potential.

Author: Sarah Griffiths 

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Ode to Rocktime for National Poetry Day

In Celebration of National Poetry Day, with this year’s theme of "Home". We spend 35% of our day at the Rocktime Offices, so I decided to write an Ode to Rocktime, sharing with you all here, enjoy:

Ode to Rocktime

In south England, Poole resides,
A digital agency named Rocktime,
Who laid down their creative tech foundations,
Back in nineteen ninety nine.

They offer cutting edge development,
Using the latest tech in unity,
With social media reporting and teaching,
How to create a community.

They design all manner of interactive sites,
To engage and interest your visitors,
Aligning developments with all your objectives,
So that your ROI soars.

A team of developers, designers, accounting,
Not forgetting our search marketing smarties,
Talking design, interactivity, usability,
And integration with all your 3rd parties.

Talk to Rocktime to develop advanced platforms,
For an immersive and interactive site,
They have a number of products in modular development,
Including Logic, Source & Flashlight!

Well, that was fun!

To find out more about National Poetry Day, check out their website, if you would like to take part then the closing date for the National Poetry Competition is the 31st of October.

Author: Alice Cheetham

Monday, October 04, 2010

Geek Video of the month

This months Geek Video of the month is the piece put together exploring the basis behind the YouTube Play Contest.

A collaboration between YouTube and the renown Guggenheim Museum, New York. A phenominal 23,000 submissions have been whittled down to 125 fantastially creative videos from over 91 countries. You can view the shortlisted videos now over on the Youtube Play channel.

Later this month the jury will be picking out their top 20 to be revealed and presented at a special YouTube Play celebration event at the Guggenheim Museum on October 21st. For those of us who don't want to travel quite so far, you'll also be able to find them on

Author: Alice Cheetham

Monday, October 04, 2010

The new Google URL shortener website

Last week, Google gave its URL shortening service, its own website, opening the shorten URL service to all. A handy tool for creating short URLS that can be easily shared tweeted or emailed to friends.

The URL shortener has been available in other Google products, Maps, News, Blogger for sometime, and we are pleased that it is now it is open to everyone whether you are logged into Google or not. What we particular like about the URL tool, is the speed to shorten – super quick in comparison to others.

Try it here:

Another big positive about the Google URL shortener is that if you sign in with your Google Account and create the shortened link when signed in, Google will provide the history of that link, along with analytics so you can track the traffic.

We have just found out that there will be API in the future, so once this is available, people may want to opt to integrating as a choice for shortening links in their sites and applications.

You can even get a QR code for every link you shorten, viewing on the stats page, or appending .qr to any link. To find out why you would want to do this, visit back to this blog in a couple of weeks, where one of our Web Developers (Andy Edwards) will be explaining a bit more about QR (quick response) codes. In summary a QR Code is a bar code that can store much more information and on scan can take you direct to a website (links to Mobile Marketing).

A short explanation about how url shortening works from Craig Sherlock one of our Web Developers at Rocktime:

1) URL to shorten:
2) A shortened url is created:
3) The shortened url is then stored in the database at, along with the real url
4) When someone clicks the shortened url they are taken to
5) sees that /Vilj has been appended to the url and looks in its database for the entry
6) Once found it looks at an opposite column (Real URL) and finds
7) The next column will now increment by a value of 1. This keeps track of the number of visits.
8) Once incremented; the page then redirects the user to

Find out more about the Google URL Shortener over at the Google Blog:

If you need any help in using the Google URL shortener or wish to discuss how you can integrate the URL shortener to your online marketing campaigns feel free to contact the Rocktime Flashlight team.

Author: Sarah Griffiths