I wrote something on QR Codes last month, which hold a lot of promise as a way of embedding information in an off-line context, such as a print ad or billboard, and tying that to online information. Now SnapTell, Inc. of Palo Alto has come up with an elegant solution that doesn't require embedding any information at all. The user snaps a picture of the ad with his or her camera phone and emails in order to be entered into contests, receive special offers, etc. The current issue of Rolling Stone has five such ads (although one seemed to be missing), identified with a discrete logo. A separate, full page ad from SnapTell explains the program and gives the email address RS@snaptell.com. The SnapTell site matches the photograph against their database in order to identify the ad. The picture recognition appears very robust. So far, I've received an MP3 inviting me to visit MySpace.com to get a "valuable coupon" - worth a dollar towards a pizza (talk about indirection!), a free motorcycle ringtone from Allstate, shaving tips from the Edge Gel Girls, and a video clip from the Discovery Channel. We'll also see how much more spam I get.