Recently, I was asked about incorporating a QR code in an ad. I was a little bewildered. For what purpose I inquired? The equally bewildered response was ‘you mean you don’t know?’
QRC or QR code is an ancrynom for Quick Response Code, a two dimensional bar code (see mine at the side) with encoded information for a specific item or web page. When a QR code is photo-captured by a mobile device, the ‘bits and bytes’ are de-coded to present the user with a direct link to a website, an app, or maybe specifications for an item.
Initially designed for the Japanese automotive industry, the mobile QR code and barcode
redemption industry is serious business particularly in the mobile market. And there are some great applications. Markets that depend on ‘specifications’ such as real estate, automotive and marine, use QR codes at trade shows, effectively replacing the spec sheet.
But that’s all I knew. I decided to check with my LinkedIn peer group by posing the following: Are QR codes past their prime? And a discussion ensued. There were advocates both for and ‘agin. What we did agree on was that QR codes were misunderstood and misused.
Here are the key takeaways…
⇒ QRC codes can only be read by a SMART device that has QR reader app. That was the first thing I learned when I held up my Blackberry took a shot with my camera and presto nothing happened. So, they are limited. On person argued they could type in a URL faster than scanning a QR Code. We didn’t test it.
> QR codes are very easy to create but have to be displayed on a background and in a location where they can be easily scanned. Our team giggled with some of the tales: A real estate agent that displayed an oversized QR code on a billboard – try scanning that while driving. An QR code on elevator ad that was placed three feet off the ground. You had to get on all fours to scan it.
⇒QR codes need to direct people to a mobile friendly site. On too many occassions the QR code took a user to a site that wasn’t mobile friendly. The end result was a missed sale and an irritated a customer.
⇒One person queried: “why would I scan a QR code if there’s nothing it in for me?” And they had a point. Having a QR code on a poster that took you to the same poster on the website didn’t make any sense. On the other hand, having a QR code that led you to an useful app or more information, made sense.
⇒ But our comments were really from North American eyes. Peers that did business on continents when the PC doesn’t have the same strangehold and mobile flourishes, such as Asia – say that launching a product without a QR code is suicidal at best.
In the end, the lesson learned was that slapping a QR code on something isn’t necessarily going to generate sales. All marketing tools require thought, objectives and measurement, otherwise there’s no way of judging success.
And – it’s okay just to being ‘cool’. As long as that’s your intent.