QR Codes are Still Around?

In a word, yes. But for how long is currently unknown.

A while back, I wrote about the basics of QR codes. If you are still unsure about what they are, head on over for a brief introduction.

What’s Happening?

Google is about to replace their QR system with NFC. NFC will make checking in easier than “pointing your phone at some weird-looking image, scanning it, and waiting [...].” With a NFC system all you have to do is hold your phone next to a sign to get the same results, faster. Not only that, mobile payments can be integrated, as well – something which QR codes cannot do.

QR codes cut down on copy and save money, but they are cumbersome. Not all QR codes can be read by all phones. Microsoft has their system, which can only be read with certain apps. If you don’t have the correct app, you can’t scan the code. After you have scanned the code, you have to wait for the mobile site to load in your mobile browser too. Most people want something, and they want it now. This is where NFC comes in. It’s fast – really fast – and a lot can be done with it. No cameras; no worrying about having the right app or not; and no waiting.

Many companies are still trying to utilize QR codes in their mobile campaigns. However, no matter how well they are executed, if people don’t have capable phones, the right app, patience or a signal, those companies have missed their target, and money has been wasted. Since a QR code app has not natively been placed within most smartphones, the medium may not survive.

Some people still don’t understand what that funny looking black-and-white square is, and if there isn’t copy somewhere saying, “Scan this for more information,” they usually just walk right on by. It’s easier to add some text that says, “Please go to facebook.com/InceptSaves.” This way people will know what to do and where to go. The chance of a consumer going to and/or remembering the link is much greater than getting out their phone, waiting for the app, scanning the code, and then waiting some more – if and only if their scanning app works.

Who is Still Creating QR-Based Campaigns?

Victoria’s Secret is the newest entrant into this field, with their new “Sexier Than Skin” ad campaign. It is an outdoor-based campaign set in New York city with billboards placed around certain parts of the city. What they are doing is having models on billboards that appear to be naked and only covered up by a QR code. What they are hoping is that passersby will stop and scan the QR codes for the full picture. What they get when they scan the code is the model in their newest line of lingerie.

The idea is not new, however. Back in 2009, Axe’s “Day & Night” print ad campaign had the original idea. Since QR codes were not around for public use at that time, they used short message service (SMS) and multi-media service (MMS) to reveal the full picture. But the stipulations were that you had to wait until after 9 p.m. to text a number that would send back the full image. They also had an outdoor ad campaign, as well. Thought it was in Central America only. This campaign required the use of polarized glass that, as the sun went down, would reveal more of the picture from the tint wearing off.

Where’s the Data?

Over at Heidi Cohen’s blog, she takes results from multiple 2010 survey data and does a great job of describing QR code penetration.

Obviously Victoria’s Secret is trying to change that with their new, enticing campaign.

For Victoria’s Secret’s newest ad campaign, QR codes that are utilized in the retail industry don’t fare very well compared to the social media space. Looking at the markets in which QR codes are scanned it doesn’t look good for them. However, when it comes to gender, they may just be able to make a breakthrough. 64% of women surveyed said they scan QR codes, while only 36% of males scanned them.

With this new campaign, males may be more apt to scan to reveal the “Secret” with no follow-through of a purchase. Females who scan the codes may be more apt to purchase their products, which are rooted in the retail industry, therefore driving up the numbers.

So what’s going to happen with this tech? No one really knows. One can only speculate as to where it will go. This is, after all, a waiting game. QR codes are not a breakthrough in advertising nor will they ever be. Consumers are not chomping at the bit for this piece of the technology pie. Surveys can be conducted and reports can be printed, but smartphones comprise just 28% of the entire U.S. mobile market. This results in potentially bad data and misinterpretation.

What are your thoughts on this? Are QR codes the next wave of the mobile advertising future, or will NFC take over?

Let's talk...results

About Lawrence Prather

I am a technophile, and I love social media. I am about to graduate college, and that day can't come soon enough. Sometimes I read books and watch movies. But mostly I surf the internet and listen to music.
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  • http://conversationalmarketinglabs.com/blog/2011/10/conversational-marketing/mobile-marketing-smarter-phones-and-better-technology/ Mobile Marketing: Smarter Phones and Better Technology | Conversational Marketing Blog | Social Media Community Managers | Call Center Management | Incept Results

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