QR Codes: Will They Be Big In 2011?
QR codes are not new, they have been around since 1994. The 2 dimensional (Quick Response) bar codes have had practical uses on airline boarding tickets and on product lables for stock tracking purposes. What is relatively new is the use of QR codes in marketing.
These collection of black and white dots can be scanned by a QR reader on your smart phone, decoded, and then interpreted to bring you to a website or any online resource such as a video or social media page. Alternatively on scanning, text can be displayed to the user, or a vCard can be added to the users smart phone.
Anyone who has made a recent trip to Japan will have seen lots of QR codes, where they are used in marketing and information campaigns by Disney and McDonalds. Advertisers are finding new ways to maintain interest in them and keep people scanning. This includes adding colour to QR codes and designing them so that they include a perceivable image or logo and animated codes are already been discussed by the big players in QR code design.
The use of the QR Code is free of any license. You can also generate your own QR code for free by using one of the many QR code generating websites. The all you need to do is print the code on a poster, business card or your product packaging so it can be scanned by one of your customers. QR codes can also be printed in a magazine or newspaper advert so it has been hailed as the link between print and online marketing. Users can’t click your website address if they set it in print but they can scan a QR code.
In order for QR codes to become mainstream in marketing in Ireland, there needs to be:
1. Continued increase in the adoption of smart phones
2. Smart phones need to come out of the box with a QR code reader already installed, in the same way that Google maps comes pre installed on the iPhone, for example. Many Android phones comes with the barcode scanner Zxing. The iPhone does not have any native QR scanner, but many are available to download from the iTunes app store for free, just search for QR Scanner.
3. There needs to be an increase in the awareness of the smart phone user population about what QR codes are and how to use them.
4. Companies need to give people a good reason to scan their QR code such as an extra incentive or reward.
Custom QR codes have colour and background images so you can brand them with your company logo. I think Microsoft have confused things by calling QR codes Tags and their method of creating custom codes is long winded but is free.
Google also has a QR code generator as part of the Google Charts API.
To get started quickly with your own QR code, I found the QR code generator at Kaywa to be quick and easy to use. Here is one I made earlier:
What are your thoughts?