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Update on QR Codes

A Quick Response (QR) code is a two-dimensional barcode intended for scanning by a mobile phone. It was created in 1994 by a Japanese corporation.

The code itself can contain many elements, including:

  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • Plain text
  • Business card
  • Scheduled Event

Ford use of QR code in a print ad.

A Facebook Like link built into a QR code.

QR Codes make the world of print and other media more interactive, and allow you to redirect a user to more information on their mobile "smart" phone. By the end of 2011, well over 600 million smart phones capable of scanning QR codes will have been shipped worldwide.

Print can support mobile email campaigns, and many marketers are beginning to use print to promote their on-line efforts. Sweepstakes, for example, have been especially successful when marketed with a combination of print and mobile. Customers scan QR codes:

  • To learn
  • To discover
  • To get more detailed information
  • To watch
  • To get discounts
  • To win
  • Out of curiosity

Subway QR code on delivery vehicle.

A QR code built into a logo.

When a QR code is scanned, it directs you to a landing page. They can be fully integrated with Personalized URLs (PURLs) to create true one-to-one communications from print to phone to next steps, giving people options on responding quickly and effortlessly. QR codes let you track and measure response easily.

Some ways marketers are using QR codes:

  • On real estate ads, including the signs posted on front lawns, as a quick way to get contact information on a property
  • On business cards, as an easy way to add a contact to the mobile phone of the person scanning (and add that person to your database)
  • To offer discounts on apparel in print ads, on point-of-purchase displays, even on item tags in a retail environment
  • On menus, to provide additional detail regarding an item, such as sourcing ingredients, nutritional information or details on a wine option
  • To market movies or music, by directing the person scanning to a Youtube video or to a track on-line
  • Tying them to e-commerce, such as a QR code embedded into each Starbuck card to make purchases even easier
  • Linking them to a video to tell a story in greater detail

For customers to read a QR code, they'll need a smart phone to support it and an easy-to-get, free QR code reading application. Some of the many smart phones that support QR codes are:

  • iPhone
  • Droid
  • Blackberry

QR code use to promote a television program.

A QR code built into a Tag Heuer ad.

Some sample readers (software applications for some or all of these devices) include:

  • i-nigma
  • Neo Reader
  • Kaywa Reader
  • ScanLife
  • QuickMark
  • Microsoft Tag

Of these, one of our favorites is ScanLife. Bear in mind that newer phones will be better at scanning QR codes!

Many phones are now coming with one or more of these applications pre-installed.

To read the code, the user just points the camera at the bar code and snaps a picture. The QR will decode instantly, bringing you to a Web page.

One of the great things about QR codes is their ability to work with a loss of up to 30% of the pixels, due to a redundancy in the way they store data. This means that marketers can actually incorporate a small identifier or version of their logo into their QR codes. They also work at any scannable size, from as little as 15 to 20 square millimeters (about 3/4") on your business card to a billboard on a building.

We can help you translate QR codes from print to mobile, and incorporate them into your marketing efforts. Contact us for more information!


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