Speculative advertisements for Microsoft Tag makes you wish everything had MTags

If you’ve ever pondered about the future convergence of mobile devices and the web, then you might have envisioned something like the scenarios shown in these three speculative (mock) advertisements for Microsoft Tag, courtesy of a familiar director Marty Martin who also shot the Windows 7 college spots.

Produced by “White Rabbit” in collaboration with Microsoft, these three 60-second spots dubbed “teen” (above), “mom” and “business” shows how Microsoft Tags could seamlessly bridge the divide between real tangible objects with content and services on the web.

Examples shown in the video enabled by MTags include the discover and downloading of new music from an artist’s poster, finding stores who sells a piece of clothing you see in a magazine and streaming a movie trailer to a portable media player all from a movie poster.

[flv:mtag_mom.f4v 600 330]

[flv:mtag_business.f4v 600 330]

What I like about these videos is that they illustrate scenarios that very practical but not currently possible with the ease of clicking just a button. Sure you could bring up a browser on your phone and type away but by the time you’re done you would have probably lost interest. A picture on the other hand is a snap.

36 insightful thoughts

  1. The advertisements are quite deceptive,.. only things that are “MTag” ed will be identified. Again these tags are microsoft proprietary. So other open source sw wont be able to take advantage of these tags. I am waiting for an open source alternative for tags to come up which is more flexible and allows to search for all content and not just tagged ones.

  2. Wow! these look AMAZING!

    The thing about “tags” or meta information is that someone has to actively do them… so unless microsoft has a automated system / employees that are tagging… EVERYTHING… it don’t think it would be as effective as shown here….

    What I think is amazing is the last video, being able to process large amounts of data and representing them on graphs etc…I think that this is more likely to be available – in comparison to the second video 😛

    Thanks for Sharing Long.

  3. Nice concept and execution …kind of like an uninformative PSA. What’s telling is the offering of only the slightest glimpse of what TAG actually looks like. The look of the thing isn’t a small barrier to entry either to the consumer who has to know what it is/what to do with it OR to marketers who need to integrate it into their inventory. Whether that be at POS, in-book, outdoor or on TV… brand marketer buy-in is absolutely essential to make this thing fly.

    Also notable is that there is no reference to how the consumer is going to make this cool thing happen. How do they find and DL the app reader prerequisite to making it work? Until they overcome that hurdle…or even better, sell a billion Windows OS phones;-) – the install-base isn’t going to light anyone’s fire.

    Finally, I should add that these issues are endemic in the QR code sector…and my honest opinion is that MSFT has more than enough muscle (and hopefully the desire and where with all) to win the war. I just think there are a good number of battles still ahead.

  4. These are certainly excellent concept videos showing practical, real-world use cases, though as a NYC subway railfan, I can’t help but notice the egregious recasting of the New York City subway as the Hong Kong subway the protagonist is riding in the ‘business’ video.

    Heck, right after the shot turns to him as he’s looking at the map, the subway train entering the station behind him has emblazoned on it the American flag…it becomes stranger as the storytelling continues with the interior of a New York City subway car cast as the inside of a Hong Kong subway car, then comes to a climax as we’re shown our protagonist calling someone in New York City, then flashing back to him taking the call on a New York City subway platform, during which we see yet another American flag flash by on another subway train…

    Aside from that nitpicking, I always wonder how these systems will be implemented and how smoothly they’ll really work. Concept videos like this surface every once in a while, perhaps most notably in Microsoft’s Envisioning videos, and technologies and implementations like this always feel about ten years off in the future. Is the concept of the Microsoft Tag an RFID technology, optical object identification, or some sort of proprietary bar code Microsoft hopes to saturate the market with?

  5. I’ll add that the videos are very well done. The musics, the scenes and the end (unveiling the word “T/\G” and the end of the song) are so beatiful.

  6. Cool videos. They could have just filmed real-life Tokyo for the past few years. QR codes are everywhere and they are a *royalty-free* *open* format. And Marc E — you missed the shot of Shibuya crossing in Tokyo posing as a Hong Kong intersection in that last video 🙂

  7. I really hate Microsoft commercials — just a bunch of, “HEY YOU GUYS LOOK AT ME” imagery.

    Hell, they don’t even show the Microsoft Tag, so most of the non-techies are going to look at it and think that this kind of functionality is already available in their newspaper / subways / etc RIGHT NOW and all they have to do is have a phone that supports it. I hate fielding those kinds of situations.

    Anyway, I’m not too hot on Microsoft’s tags. I’m already starting to see a bunch of QR Codes (you notice them more readily when you’ve got a phone that reads them). Hell, the last time I ordered Dominos I got a coupon that came with a QR Code attached. Free 20z coke!

    Microsoft Tags query a server then send your phone content; QR Codes can contain a website link that any reader will automatically prompt you to open. I’m not sure what the big benefit is, other than the fact that Microsoft Tags look pretty and are more likely to blend with color advertisements.

    Oh, and the other big difference? You get to pay Microsoft for the pleasure of using a Microsoft Tag. Yes. It’ll be awesome. I say this as someone who spent $3.99 buying a bunch of QR Code stickers I could hide on my electronics in case they were ever stolen and their ownership came into dispute.

    I already use QR Codes, now. I think I’ll stick with the (free) pleasure.

  8. Instead of producing mock ads for imaginary products, it would be better if Microsoft would put all their effort into actually producing something, not just showing off all kinds of odd laboratory experiments.

  9. I have wondered how many employees they could have kept from laying off if they shot fewer of these things.

  10. What funny too about the business video: it is supposed, at least at the beginning, to be in Hong Kong (PRC), while the translation of the underground station says “Tai Pei Station”, which is in Republic of China aka Taiwan!

    But well, the point of these videos, I think, is to give to people a taste for “tomorrow” nothing else. And I think it could be quite disturbing to have all these holoprojections all around like that 😉

  11. @Josh I hadn’t even noticed that! I also realize that part of my nitpicking was a bit off – I was going by what I was remembering and not what I had actually seen.

    @Josh @Etienne S. A lot of commercials tend to make silly mistakes like this but none so many as this…It’s about on par with the number of mistakes I’ve seen movies make in 2 hours time!

  12. @AW. i might be wrong, but i think you can make MS Tags for free. i made one once using some online tool they had. i read that they are better than the QR codes for a number of reasons, such as being able to encode more information; larger “bits” of data are easier for a phone camera to read accurately; something else. that may have just been MS propaganda, but it made sense to me.

    and yea, QR codes are all over japan, as a few others have mentioned.

  13. Is it just me, or in the ‘business’ video, does the computer shown close to the end have with the XP chrome? Then later appear to show a glimpse of the Windows Sidebar? Sort of hard to accurately tell at that resolution/quality..

  14. As a number of people point out above, these videos do not show Microsoft Tags being snapped. In fact they do more to advertise the benefit of mobile image recognition (MIR) which is a completely different technology from Microsoft Tags. It’s a shame that Microsoft continue to talk down to their audience in this way. A dead-ringer for the Advertising SnM (Smoke and Mirrors) award 2009.

  15. I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t have cared less about the MTags in that first video clip! That chick was hella cute! I’m not sure how you casted her, Marty, but find job, sir. 😉

  16. Why Microsoft needs to invent yet another tag?

    Why not use one of existing, commonly accepted ones – like QRcode for example?

    If we want technology to make possible “cool stuff” like videos “speculate”
    we need to CONSOLIDATE the tag/”2D barcode” standards space NOT FRAGMENT
    it furher by throwing yet another tag into the mix… even if it has “better looks for humans”…
    (IMHO rather a “gimmick” kind of feature;)

    It is unlikely that manufacturers of goods and services will print a dozen of
    various barcodes/tags on their product (even if space allows for that 😉

    Is Microsoft seriously hoping that the industries will abandon all of their existing 2D barcode
    systems and investments (printers/scanners/etc) and switch to “Microsoft Tag”??


  17. two things.
    wtf is with the old zune, not even flippin’ it into landscape mode…
    and also, the voice over? um, i dont think that guys suited for ads, or this type anyway.

    but otherwise, very good. it would be cool if ms tag progresses to that stage in the not to distant future.

  18. So, while this lull in the news is continuing: what about the Aero taskforce? Windows 7 is finished and releasing in two weeks or so, and no doubt we all got to play with it. Yet the vast majority of items in the taskforce still have “Not fixed” as their status. What gives? Was the taskforce a failure? Did Microsoft not give it the attention they said they would?

  19. Can you imagine if everyone looked like he did at a gig when you were on stage…..think i would give up

  20. No I meant the guy that was rapping. I found out it was Blue scholars, but thanks regardless for your help.

  21. I use both Microsoft Tag and QR Code simply because they are both viable ways of getting information out into the mobile world. I do prefer MS Tags. @Punit, Google is using QR Code for their FavoritePlace campaign to get their Google Local site more of a punch. Stores will place a small flyer on their window with the Google Maps logo on it. Users who are window shopping can scan the code and bring up specials for the day. While that is a great idea, I wish Microsoft had a similar campaign. I am all for Open Source, but I am also a Microsoft fan as well. The MS Tag has potential for lots of usage and is a better way to scan because of the high-density format. The block codes in QR needs a more focused camera and cameras with lower resolution may be more difficult to scan than MS Tag. I have a 2MP cam on my phone and both systems work fine, but I had more success with MS Tag than I had with scanning QR. For now, I will use both on all my campaigns but I do prefer MS Tag over QR Code.

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