What Can you do with a QR Code?
have been popping up in television ad campaigns, in magazine display ads, on real estate signs, and even on menus. And now that major corporations have begun using QR codes, public perception is accelerating. We expect that some time in the next 12 months, we’ll reach the tipping point where QR codes become firmly established as an information source.
What a QR Code is:
QR codes are a two-dimensional (2D) graphical representation of information
– often of a URL (uniform resource locator – the Internet address of a web site) but also phone numbers, e-mail addresses or other bits of data. Developed in 1994 by the Japanese manufacturer Denso-Wave, the first use of QR codes was inventory tracking of vehicle parts. Early on Denso-Wave, who holds the patent and name trademark, freely shared the code specification, allowing others to expand the use of QR codes to other applications. The specifications for QR codes were adopted as ISO standard 18004 in 2000.
In the United States and Canada the introduction and adoption of QR codes has been slower than in Japan and Europe, mainly due to immature technology for mobile communication. Compared to Japan and Europe, there are a smaller number of camera phones as a percentage of all mobile phones. Also, QR reader software must be obtained from third-party vendors (rather than coming installed in mobile phones) and is device-dependent. According to a survey conducted by North American Technographics of a randomly selected sample of 42,792, less than 1% of mobile phone owners used a 2D barcode scanner in Q2 of 2010.
Predictions are that this is about to change. In 2010, some major US marketers, including Calvin Klein, Chevrolet, Allure Magazine, Verizon Wireless, Heineken, Entertainment Weekly, The Weather Channel, Starbucks, Nike and Warner Home Video, all had campaigns based around QR codes. And as camera phones increasingly replace older mobile phone instruments, the use of QR codes will spread.
Uses for QR codes
A few months ago, QR codes were a novelty, attracting attention mainly because of their unusual appearance. The use of QR codes by a growing number of marketers has raised the public perception of how to use the codes and the value they bring to a buying decision.
A QR code is a different kind of marketing tool.
Not only does a QR code store data of all types – text, numbers and graphics – in a compact manner, it also provides a means of measuring response rate. A QR code is a mobile hyperlink to additional information
that frees the information seeker from his desktop computer, and allows the marketer to reach potential buyers anywhere, any time.
The QR code glyph
is so versatile that it can be deployed in small versions on business cards, brochures and post cards, and in large versions on buildings, billboards and large-screen television. The glyph is forgiving enough to be readable when printed on a t-shirt or on a delivery van.
QR codes can be used for event ticketing and tracking, contests, trade show management, surveys and couponing. They can be incorporated into a direct mail marketing campaign, menus, in-store display or e-mail marketing. They can direct the audience to a personalized URL, an online instruction manual or a recipe that uses a particular ingredient. QR codes can take users to an online testimonial video, to YouTube, or to a short commercial.
Provide a QR code on a trade show name badge, and other attendees will gain access to contact information without having to exchange business cards. Include a QR code on static advertising like a magazine display
ad and take readers to a multimedia site.
Add a QR code
to each product listing in a catalog and link to complete product specifications or a demonstration video of the product. A QR code on an in-store display can include a coupon for a discount or promotion on a related item. Put a QR code on a product label and link to a recipe that uses the product.
QR codes appearing inside a book cover can link readers to reviews or a web site about the author. A QR code on a prescription drug label can provide dosage information and warnings about side effects.
Here are some recent uses of QR codes:
- In 2010, the Fox television network sent promotional messages for its popular shows Lone Star, Fringe and Glee, all leading up to the fall premiers. Users were given access to insider content, videos, first-look photos, show secrets, behind-the-scenes footage and exclusive cast interviews, all displayed on mobile phones.
- Lake County Tourism & Business Relations in Groveland, Florida uses a QR code on billboards, magazine ads and direct mail. The codes can be customized to the audience. For example, an ad in a fishing magazine incorporates a QR code that takes the reader to a podcast showing fresh water fishing in Lake County.
- Ralph Lauren includes “How to shop from your phone” with instructions under the QR tag in a display ad or on a direct mail piece. The QR code is connected to an e-commerce site where visitors can shop directly from their phones, view the Ralph Lauren collection, and read articles in RL Magazine.
- In September 2009, Dick’s Sporting Goods broadcast a QR code on the JumboTron during a football game at the Dallas Cowboys stadium. Fans who took a picture of the QR code were taken to a mobile web site and offered $10 off on a $50 purchase.
- In 2006, McDonald’s began using QR codes on its packaging in Japan. Using the code provided nutritional information – calories, sodium, fat, carbohydrates and possible allergens – on the meal.
- Google uses QR codes as part of its program Google Places. In 2010, 100,000 businesses selected by Google as a Favorite Place were sent a QR code printed on a decal to display in their window. A viewer who uses the QR code is taken to the business’s Google Place Page – a way for people to get information about the business even if it is not open. And with Google promoting QR codes, they could become important in search marketing. Google suggests that if your web site contains a QR code, search engines will see a new image and index it, and might in the future index the content in the image.