Home  › Media › Mobile

QR Codes: Dead End or On-Ramp?

  |  July 22, 2011   |  Comments

If we take advantage of the unique characteristics of QR codes, perhaps we can save them from becoming extinct.

In a recent Ad Age article, Dave Wieneke argued that QR codes are a dead-end, transitional technology, to be quickly replaced by near field communication (NFC).

I agree with Mr. Wieneke that many uses of QR codes to date fall short. As my colleague Katherine Hedgepeth put it, they're a "sign saying 'hooray for our sign.'" Scan this QR code to see more advertising! Go to our website! Sign up for email! If this is the best marketers can do, we should hang our heads in shame.

If, however, we take advantage of the unique characteristics of QR codes, perhaps we can save them and us from becoming extinct. To my way of thinking, these characteristics are discovery, depth, simplicity, surprise, and exclusivity. Here are some examples in the marketplace today:

Discovery. Some of the best uses of QR codes to date were developed for interpretation, defined by the NAI as "a mission-based communication process that forges emotional and intellectual connections between the interests of the audience and the meanings inherent in the resource." NAI members are people who work at parks, museums, nature centers, zoos, etc. and many have developed QR experiences that aid in the discovery of their resources, such as the World Park Campaign in Central Park. Perhaps marketers can learn something from them, as we, too, seek to forge an emotional and intellectual connection.

Depth. Some retailers and movie studios have done an excellent job of providing deeper experiences to interested customers. Scan a Best Buy QR code in a weekly circular or shelf tag to get inventory availability, reviews, product views, exclusive content, and deals. Scan the QR code in the "Ironman 2" movie poster for a synopsis, trailer, show times, and photos.

Simplicity. Mobile users are busy, distracted multitaskers. Whether we're shopping, watching TV, in a meeting, or at the dinner table, our attention is fragmented and the phone is not our primary focus. The few clicks required to access information via QR code is easier than typing in a URL or searching to find the exact information we seek. Codes that can replace tickets, which are a hassle to print out and keep track of, are an excellent example of taking advantage of QR codes' inherent simplicity.

Surprise. There is an element of fun in the QR code. The placement, form, and payoff are all opportunities to surprise and delight. Search QR code images to find some highly creative examples - a temporary tattoo, a plowed field, a sand castle on the beach. The form can be basic or beautiful, as SET demonstrates with codes in the form of a rabbit, the Red Cross logo, and for the Time Magazine red frame campaign.

Exclusivity. Although we can all see the trajectory of smartphone adoption, at this moment a substantial portion of your customers don't have them and can't scan your QR code. This allows you to engage with an exclusive subset of your customers who are likely to be younger, more affluent, and/or more tech-savvy. It also presents your company as a progressive, forward-thinking organization.

While NFC may be a superior technology, it is focused on a higher purpose: facilitating mobile payments. As such, experts predict it is at least two years off, according to a Sybase 365 survey of GSMA Mobile World Congress attendees. While new mobile payment ventures seem to spring up daily, there are complicated agreements to be worked out among the carriers, banks, and end users that make the Apple/AT&T partnership look like a walk in the park. When NFC becomes our payment method, will we also use it for discovery? Maybe, maybe not.

We marketers can find a lot of ways to forge an emotional and intellectual connection as we surprise and delight customers and favorably position our brands in this anything-can-happen mobile world. I don't think it's a dead end; I think we just found the on-ramp.

This column was originally published on June 17, 2011 on ClickZ.

Tags:

ClickZ Live Toronto On the heels of a fantastic event in New York City, ClickZ Live is taking the fun and learning to Toronto, June 23-25. With over 15 years' experience delivering industry-leading events, ClickZ Live offers an action-packed, educationally-focused agenda covering all aspects of digital marketing. Register today!

ClickZ Live San Francisco Want to learn more? Join us at ClickZ Live San Francisco, Aug 10-12!
Educating marketers for over 15 years, ClickZ Live brings together industry thought leaders from the largest brands and agencies to deliver the most advanced, educational digital marketing agenda. Register today and save $500!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Melinda Krueger

Melinda Krueger is a senior marketing consultant with ExactTarget and a digital marketing veteran – starting with direct, moving to interactive, specializing in e-mail, and now charting a course for mobile marketing. Working with the best agencies in the business, she has helped Harley-Davidson, Miller Brewing, Sears/Kmart, CDW, and many others build their interactive marketing programs. Melinda holds an MBA from Marquette University and is a highly-rated speaker for professional organizations and business schools. As the Email Diva, Melinda answered questions on all aspects of the practice. Your questions about mobile are welcome!

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

Get ClickZ Media newsletters delivered right to your inbox. Subscribe today!

COMMENTS

UPCOMING EVENTS

Featured White Papers

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce
This Magic Quadrant examines leading digital commerce platforms that enable organizations to build digital commerce sites. These commerce platforms facilitate purchasing transactions over the Web, and support the creation and continuing development of an online relationship with a consumer.

Paid Search in the Mobile Era

Paid Search in the Mobile Era
Google reports that paid search ads are currently driving 40+ million calls per month. Cost per click is increasing, paid search budgets are growing, and mobile continues to dominate. It's time to revamp old search strategies, reimagine stale best practices, and add new layers data to your analytics.

WEBINARS

Resources

Jobs

    • GREAT Campaign Project Coordinator
      GREAT Campaign Project Coordinator (British Consulate-General, New York) - New YorkThe GREAT Britain Campaign is seeking an energetic and creative...
    • Paid Search Senior Account Manager
      Paid Search Senior Account Manager (Hanapin Marketing) - BloomingtonHanapin Marketing is hiring a strategic Paid Search Senior Account Manager...
    • Paid Search Account Manager
      Paid Search Account Manager (Hanapin Marketing) - BloomingtonHanapin Marketing is hiring an experienced Paid Search Account Manager to...