A survey marking the number of smartphone users in the United States alone showed an astonishing figure of 69.5 million users by the end of February 2011! This number is going to increase exponentially and the proof is visible all around us. We find at least a couple of Smartphone users within our own friend circles and the others who don’t own one yet, always have an eye for the newer smartphones.
Along with smartphones, came in smarter things like QR codes. A QR Code is a 2 dimensional matrix code created by the Japanese corporation Denso-Wave in 1994. The term ‘QR’ is derived from “Quick Response”. The creator’s intention was to create a code whose content could be read at high speeds.
QR code is in the limelight now and there is no denying the fact. In a horde to use this somehow or the other companies are breaking their head, day and night. QR codes are seen everywhere from outdoor hoardings to magazine covers. An example of how the importance of QR codes is growing:
“Along with HTML5, QR codes will become a far more important part of the travel experience. These barcodes may soon be providing TV channel listings in hotels, in flight entertainment instructions on airplanes and itineraries on cruise ships.” – Ayan Banerjee, Senior Consultant, MindTree Ltd. Read the full article!
The tool is quite simple to use – Point the camera towards the QR code and a built-in application will de-code the QR code to some form of data. This simplicity of the technology poses a lot of potential and appeals to the growing smartphone user segment.
Some of the direct uses of a QR code:
A prevalent use by digital marketing companies is to replace the sexy looking advertisements with pale looking black-and-white QR codes. QR codes are designed to enhance the Mobile Experience of a user, but this should not be at the expense of ruining the physical appearances and experiences of the advertisement.
So, what could possibly happen if QR codes are used to replace advertisements? Most of the users who still don’t have a smartphone would struggle to understand what it is all about. Smartphone users without knowledge about QR codes would struggle to understand how to use it. Smartphone users who had enough of it, passed on the technology when they didn’t find it amusing anymore. As a result, marketing companies lost customers, who looked at that advertisement, and could have read on about it but moved on, since it was either not understandable or too boring! We can also observe that most of the marketing companies end up using the QR code as an alternative for people to click links leading to a common perception that QR codes are just a link to the main advertising page of a company.
Is this what the advertisers/marketers were looking for? I believe not.
Some golden rules to keep in mind when devising campaigns using QR codes:
Another key lesson for any marketer is to realize that QR code is not an alternative to a link. This has been over used and abused in all senses. It’s time that we think beyond this. Innovative use of these codes is the need of the hour which will enhance the mobile experience as a whole!