Mobile UX designers and marketing and analytics firm Nellymoser today released a comprehensive study of print magazine action codes. They took the time to review every 2011 issue of the top 100 national magazine titles: all 164,000 pages’ worth. They found a total of 4,400 QR Codes, MicrosoftTags, Spyderlynk SnapTags, BEE Tags, JagTags, Digimarc watermarks and other codes with an iPhone or Android device. For each tag, they scanned and ran the resulting Web page or video. At least give them props for being thorough.

The results show to no surprise that despite their problems, tags are becoming more popular, from an average of two per issue at the beginning of the year to more than six nearing the end.

The most popular are either QR codes or Microsoft tags, with QR dominating the field by the end of the year as you can see in the graph below.

More than half of the codes or tags were used to link to a particular video, often created specifically for mobile viewing, like a behind-the-scenes look or a product demo. Another third of the tags were used for sign-ups for sweepstakes or opt-in mailing lists. Top brands using the tags included L’Oreal, Bose, Cuisinart, Revlon, Samsung, Delta faucets and Tag Heuer watches. Given this mix of brands, it isn’t surprising that the women’s magazine sector had the most tags. But what is interesting is that half of the magazine titles on the Q4 Top 10 list were not on the Top 10 list in Q3. These include ESPN magazine, People, Self, Sports Illustrated and Time.

Most of the codes appear in print with accompanying text that provide an SMS path, have instructions on how to get a scanning app, or describe the ultimate destination when you do scan the code, as you can see below.

You can download the full report from Nellymoser here.