The Resurrection of QR Codes?
Does anyone care about QR Codes anymore? I don’t see them used much, just a few die hard sites giving quick links to downloading software to mobile devices. QR Codes have been around since the 1990s and have hardly set the world alight, outside Asia I hardly ever see them used for sales and marketing campaigns, and when I do it’s normally a customer coming to me with a really poorly thought out campaign.
We had a customer whose QR Code plan went something along the lines of… “A user will see our advert for a product, they’ll come to our website using their browser, download a our QR Code reader, then they’ll be able to take a picture of our QR Code which will take them to our micro site where they can download the software”. If a user has to visit your site to download something to go back to your site you have a problem. They missed the point of QR Codes being quick links to a website and not an interactive medium.
I was surprised to read on InventorSpot that Facebook are investigating using QR Codes that will link to a users profile or status feed. The article talks about the issues this raises with privacy, and how QR Codes are going to make Facebook millions in advertising.
Apparently the plan is, you as a user will have the option to use your QR Code on business cards, tee-shirts or whatever and friends will be able to access your Facebook page just by taking a photo of your code. The good thing about QR Codes is there are hundreds of readers out there spanning lots of devices, but I can’t help thinking it’s investing in the wrong technology.
Consider two options; you can have a tee-shirt with a QR Code that links to your Facebook Status feed. Users take a photo of your tee-shirt and get redirected to your Facebook page. Or you can have a marker that displays content directly on the tee-shirt with optional 3D animation. Which do you choose?
The InventorSpot article goes on to promote the enormous potential for advertising where every product has it own QR Code placed discreetly in the advertisement. You known the kind of thing where a billboard has an advert for the latest must have gadget and in the corner will be a QR Code linking you to the website. I’m sure that was the goal when QR Codes were first introduced but they have had their chance and they failed (in the the West at least). They are no match for today’s augmented reality solutions.
Today we have mobile augmented reality applications that are able to recognise full colour advertisements. Nokia’s Point & Find for example enables a user to take a photo of a movie poster and watch a trailer, book tickets at nearby cinemas (courtesy of GPS), or read reviews. Advertisers don’t even need to do anything special. Pongr is yet another solution that is able to recognise any billboard advertisement or product logo (as long as it is uploaded to their database) and give the user contextual information.
Coming full circle and back to Facebook and poorly implemented QR Campaigns, the scenario was given by InventorSpot was:
“Scan a product on a Facebook page and get an immediate personalized offer where you could purchase ‘said’ item on the spot. Advertisers in turn would pay Facebook 30% off every sale, using their Facebook Credit ‘commissionable’ model”
I could be on your Facebook page, see something I like, go downstairs to find my phone, come back upstairs, take a picture with my phone, be redirected to the product page, browser it on my tiny phone screen and enter my details using T9. Or I could just use my mouse to click the link.
QR Codes have their place as a quick linking tool for mobile devices not as a rich sales/marketing tool, it’s time to let them go and embrace the future.