The Death Of The QR Code

When was the last time you scanned a QR code? Be honest. If it was in the last month, are you hooked? Yes, that was a rhetorical question because I can’t name one person I know that actively scans QR codes, and I’ll bet if you ask your network, neither can you.

To that end, I know that there is research that shows that an increasing number of people are “scanning a QR code,” but what I haven’t been able to find are statistics that show repeat usage. My guess is that there is a reason for that.

The History Of QR Codes

Taking a step back, QR codes (short for “quick response” codes) were first created by the automotive industry in Japan back in 1994. Somewhere around two to three years ago in the United States, these strange looking squares became the talk of the town and started appearing everywhere; on t-shirts, outdoor ads, food labels — you name it.

The idea was simple — we now had an easy way to connect the offline world to the online world with a mere scan using our smart phones. With over 50% of people in the U.S. now possessing a smart phone, you would think this technology would be gaining in popularity. It’s not.

To be honest, I was a big proponent of QR codes starting somewhere in 2009/2010. I remember putting a huge QR code on the back of some custom t-shirts that my co-author, Mike Schneider, and I created to promote our book launch during SXSW Interactive back in 2011.

Over the last 12 months, however, I’ve had a change of heart; and, I can’t seem to find anyone who disagrees with me. In fact, the thing that prompted me to write this post was an older write up in AdAge by B.L. Ochman that Syracuse smartie, Chanda Picott, alerted me to the other day. The post by Ochman claimed that while QR codes may not be dead, they are certainly misused. It’s worth noting that she wrote this post in 2011.

The big question we should all be asking is, why hasn’t something as promising as the QR code gained more traction in the 10 years of its existence? Below are five reasons I see that prevented this fairly simple technology from living up to its promise.

5 Reasons For The Death Of QR Codes

  1. Apple and Android have yet to ship a phone with a QR reader pre-loaded. This is — and will be — a deal breaker in most cases, given the fact that these two mobile platforms accounted for north of 87.6% of all smart phones sold worldwide in 2012.
  2. In many cases, the mobile experience sitting behind the QR code is a disappointment. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried scanning these codes only to be taken to non-mobile optimized sites, or worse, to a site where I scratched my head wondering what the connection to the original call-to-action was.
  3. Some QR codes end up in places with no wifi or connectivity on your phone (airplane, subway station). This is an obvious fail.
  4. Many consumer packaged goods companies feel that committing valuable space on their label/packaging to a standard UPC code and a QR code is overkill. And, in many cases, they focus on leveraging the UPC bar code to connect to an online experience (Weight Watchers’ mobile application lets you scan bar codes to give you nutritional information and provides number of “points” in a particular product).
  5. Even when a QR code is done right (link to mobile-optimized site, available connectivity, clear call-to-action), it’s hard to convince oneself that the minute it takes to pull out your phone, open up a scan-friendly app (assuming one had been downloaded), scan the QR code and then wait for the experience to load, is worth it.

Alternatives To QR Codes

So, as a marketer, what’s the alternative to QR codes? While no clear leader has emerged, here are a few technologies — some new, some existing — that can help provide a richer, or at least simpler, experience as we work to connect the offline world to the online:

  • SMS short codes — every mobile phone has functionality that allows users to text. Short codes are an easy way to punch in five numbers and receive back information (usually a link) that can connect one to an online experience. This isn’t a super sexy solution, but sometimes, the simplest answer is the best answer.
  • Augmented reality appsthese new technologies do require the download of a mobile app, but the payoff is immediate and allows for a much richer experience. Creating the experience requires more effort on the part of a company/marketer; but in the end, the result should be more engagement and adoption by the end user.
  • Mobile apps, like Weight Watchers, that allow mobile interaction with existing UPC bar codes — this gets back to the “sometimes simpler is better” principle, and nearly every package/label in the world has a UPC bar code on it. Using that as the catalyst for an online interaction versus creating a new code that takes up additional space at least lowers the barrier to entry on the part of the marketer.
  • Bluetooth and NFC (nearfield communication) — while these technologies are still in the nascent stages when it comes to communication between ads/products and mobile phones, they will become more prevalent over time and will require minimal effort on the part of the end user.

In summary, we humans are creatures of habit. We are always willing to try new technologies, but when the value of the outcomes is not commensurate with the level of effort required, we move on.

In the case of QR codes, there are simply too many barriers existing to make the experience worthwhile. And to that end, for every story I hear like that of friend Eric Miltsch’s, I hear a dozen more like that from Nathan Greenberg. I’d love to be proven wrong, but I don’t think I will.

If you have a success story or want to argue to the contrary, I look forward to discussing in the comments below.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Mobile Marketing | Mobile Marketing | Mobile Marketing Column

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About The Author: is Managing Director at W2O Group, where he co-leads marketing and is the head of the newly formed Social Commerce practice. Aaron assists clients with mobile and location-based marketing campaigns and strategy. He is also the co-author of Location-Based Marketing for Dummies (wiley) and an avid blogger, podcaster and speaker. Earlier in his career Aaron spent time as head of marketing and social media at Mzinga and Powered/Dachis Group. Before heading off into the startup/agency world, Aaron worked at Fidelity Investments for 9 years in a variety of digital marketing roles.



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  • mrhames

    “In many cases, the mobile experience sitting behind the QR code is a disappointment. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried scanning these codes only to be taken to non-mobile optimized sites, or worse, to a site where I scratched my head wondering what the connection to the original call-to-action was.”

    This is the problem. Dumb marketers taught people to be disappointed by the experience. Sending people to a website is lazy, and kills the category because it kills the overall expectations. All the dumb/lazy marketers ruined it for everyone.

    QR codes can:

    Add an event to a calendar.
    Download a vcard (why aren’t they on business cards)
    Connect to a company on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter.
    Take out menus could have it initiate a call.
    How to assemble video on a thing that needs assembly
    Link to a podcast.

    I don’t think they’re dead. I think marketers are/were dumb. http://sharemarketing.wordpress.com/2011/06/04/10-things-to-with-2-d-codes-qr-codes/

  • http://twitter.com/_ericm Eric Marshall

    Our agency (Zee Creative) did a QR code usage study in late 2011/early 2012 that lead us to a very similar conclusion.

    “…our study results combined with our first-hand experience, lean towards a
    fading trend for these little guys for use in advertising. People in
    general are curious individuals, but unfortunately pulling out a phone,
    loading an app and then scanning the code is possibly far more effort
    than most people care to deal with to satisfy a curiosity of discovering
    what the code offers, or links to.”

    You can read more here: http://zcreative.com/company/blog/zee-creative-qr-code-useage-study-billings-montana-market.php

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=616533085 facebook-616533085

    yes!

  • http://twitter.com/DavidaPride David Pride

    I could not agree more…I think these are archaic and on their way out. They take too much time, they are ugly, and not convenient.

  • Nathan Greenberg

    Oh, so true. The QR code was poorly adopted in the United States and never caught on with the public. There are more effective alternatives out there that deserve more attention. Thanks for covering the topic, Aaron, and thank you for the mention.

  • http://kercommunications.com/ Nick Ker

    I knew they were dead when I saw car dealerships putting QR codes on TV commercials for a total screen time of about 1 second.
    Wait! Let me pause the DVR and get my phone so I can scan your QR code and go to a mobile 404 page!

  • http://uk.queryclick.com/ Alex Cowles

    They were never alive. QR Codes have been a failure from the outset. No question.

  • http://www.facebook.com/catherinemaino Catherine Maino

    Our agency adopted QR codes for our clients with excitement. I totally agree that, in order for the codes to be adapted, widely used and accepted by the public….the mobile devices need to incorporate the app preloaded.
    I find the irony stated by Nick so humorous and true!! Most clients and agencies do not use QR codes the correct way!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/justins.universe Justin Balk

    They are before their time however have many uses in other industries besides advertising. Anyone who is part of the QR code industry and doesn’t see this is missing out ;). So to be straight up I back your article so there will be more business to those who know the industry best and were QR codes should be utilized. The biggest issue with agencies is not knowing how to properly use them and create a incentive for people to scan them. Keep trying and you will succeed. Hint: If you do your research you will find that QR codes can replace barcodes because of how much more information they can fit and they can be missing up to 30% of the QR code and still be able to be scanned in which barcodes cannot.

    http://orangeqr.com

  • studiumcirclus

    It’s a shame. I always saw QR-codes as “real-life hyperlinks . I thought they’d have some part to play in augmented reality; but I guess not!

  • http://twitter.com/MarketingMutt Brian

    One cannot kill that which has no life…

  • http://twitter.com/kevinmarks Kevin Marks

    you forget URLs as an alternative to QR codes. A short URL works better and is easier to enter reliably. Also, hashtags.

  • http://twitter.com/gcharlton Graham Charlton

    I’ve written a lot about QR codes, and I have to agree with the five causes of death you mention. If Apple had pre-loaded a QR reader and promoted it, it may be different, but the biggest problem is poor execution, especially when it comes to landing pages. These lazy marketers have spoiled the experience.

    However, they can work when used well – the Tesco Korea example is often quoted, but there are other examples where QR has worked, and this is when marketers have managed to get the elements right – codes in a location where people have the time and inclination to scan, a strong reason to scan and clear call to action, and a mobile-optimised landing page.

    That said, they are never going to be the next big thing, and never were. Just another tool in the marketers’ arsenal, and one which should only be used when the situation demands it.

  • http://twitter.com/stevecbriggs Steve Briggs

    QR Codes are links – nothing more, nothing less. It’s a way to access content on a mobile device. If the “link” is not compelling or the mobile content is not worth it, that’s not the fault of the QR Code, or any other method of linking to that content. Currently there is nothing as accessible as QR Codes, which is likely also the reason for so much abuse, but accessibility should not be held against it.

    I believe some Windows 8 phones can scan a printed URL – maybe that will be the way things go. But that again could run into the same problems of abuse.

    I think the real problem is not QR Codes, but the lack of good mobile content. We are still in the early days of decent mobile web content, just as early websites from the 90′s were pretty hideous compared to today’s. But I think things will get better as marketers and others start realizing the potentials of mobile content and stop linking QR Codes to non-mobile sites.

  • Uri Lederman

    Agreed 100%… I don’t think that QR Codes are dead at all… you see them more and more… mind you used in a terrible way.. but you see them more and more.. .. so not yet..

  • http://www.facebook.com/mesasmiles David A. Hall

    I disagree. The way I perceive the situation is that we first saw a little childish excitement with the technology and a lot of people wanted to use them just so they could say they were up-to-date with this latest toy, but they weren’t prepared to properly exploit the technology. It’s like Siri – I was fascinated with her and had to try out the technology, but the bugs in the voice recognition technology have seriously dampened my enthusiasm. They’ll get Siri right eventually and it will become much more useful. And I think the QR code has usefulness in it. I’ve seen it used effectively, for example, in magazine articles that link to deeper material or video content. In my business we do Internet marketing for dentists. We had a number of requests a year or two ago from dentists who wanted to be on the cutting edge and employ this, but all their ideas were silly and we advised them against them. But we believe we’ve discovered a useful application now in helping the dentist gather reviews when they check patients out who have had a good experience. I think it will work. We’ll see.
    http://www.infinitydentalweb.com

  • http://twitter.com/ChelseaRhane Chelsea Rhane Hickey

    The last time I scanned a QR code was a few minutes ago on your photo – clever. I agree with the QR code being dead, even when it was more popular than it is now, most marketers didn’t know how or why to use one, they just thought they were supposed to.

  • http://www.facebook.com/simonjusticehall Simon Justice Hall

    Agreed.. In 2010 I had business cards with a QR code embedded with my vCard information on the back. I thought it was awesome that someone could just scan my card and have my info imported directly to their phone automatically without any typing. I passed out 5000 cards.A majority of those cards were given to people who knew what QR codes were and how they worked. In 5000 cards I had 12 conversions (tracked through a short url embedded in the QR code). The cards made me feel uber geeky and people asked about them but it didn’t get me any sales. This year I have, “I’ll buy you a cup of coffee if you want to chat about Real Estate,” on the backs of my cards in B&W. So far I’ve sold 3 houses based on this text. QR codes vs an invitation for coffee prompting a phone call. A call to action works better when prompting a phone call instead of a download.

  • http://occamsrazr.com Ike Pigott

    What about a QR reader baked into Google Glass…?

  • http://www.facebook.com/doogs Matt McDougall

    Agreed with most everything you said, Aaron. I’ve had a hate-hate relationship with QR codes from the beginning, for several reasons:

    1 – It’s a total chicken-and-egg problem. For QR codes to go mainstream, they have to, well, go mainstream. And that means a lot of terrible, irrelevant and awkward executions that turn sentiment against them before they can reach mainstream acceptance

    2 – Uncertain expectations. Where will the QR code take you? Who knows? It could be a totally useful page, a 404 error, or the company’s non-mobile optimized site. It’s literally a crapshoot.

    3 – It makes things more complicated. If I’m interested enough to open up an app and scan something, I’m also interested enough to fire up my browser and enter a short URL. As long as the site is well-designed, it’s an easier pathway to find what I’m after (albeit not as trackable). The same’s true of the business card example. Why do the scan dance when you can just go to LinkedIn and type in your new contact’s name?

    Guardedly, I think NFC is going to be the way things go. But I don’t think we’ll start getting there until we start using our phones as NFC payment mechanisms and the necessaries come baked in.

  • http://twitter.com/shelholtz Shel Holtz

    I keep hearing this, Aaron, but the statistics suggest the QR adoption is gaining momentum:
    http://www.scanlife.com/blog/2013/02/qr-code-adoption-2013-trends-and-statistics/

    I scanned one yesterday. The fact that the experience often isn’t great is the fault of those poorly implementing the use of the code. You could say the same about just about everything else marketers do: for every great execution, there are 100 that suck.

    The fact is, when I talk to friends and family outside the bubble, they don’t know what AR is, they don’t have NFC-enabled phones, but they are just getting familiar and comfortable with QR codes. I believe rumors of their demise are greatly exaggerated.

  • http://twitter.com/JoeCascio Joe Cascio

    I just shut down a QR code tracking web service I built about a year ago. I got a couple of realtors to sign up, but it soon became clear it was a loser.

  • http://twitter.com/LenDevanna Len Devanna

    Agreed. It felt mildly amusing back in 1999 but just hasn’t gotten legs since. There’s also an element of risk. You never know what’s behind the URL you’re blindly following – http://www.geek.com/news/scammers-use-qrcodes-to-clickjack-on-the-streets-1531683/

  • Chellsea Mastroine

    QR Codes belong in real estate, and that is about it. If you are listing a house and don’t put a giant QR code in the front yard, you are just not being smart. It is a cheap and effective way to allow your potential buyers to get the right-now information on a listing. Sure, they probably would have gone home and looked it up anyway, but one can never tell.

  • http://blog.wcgworld.com/author/gmatthewswcgworld-com Greg Matthews

    I was a huge fan of QR codes early-on, but they have become almost as much of a punchline as SecondLife. However, I agree with many of the commenters below that if more smartphones started baking readers into their OS, they could still fulfill their potential. Thanks for the thought-provoking post … nice to see that there are still some staunch QR fans out there!

  • http://www.facebook.com/RealtorMikeK Michael J. Kelly

    Not a very compelling argument against the use of QR codes. My only
    issue is you don’t get feedback as to WHOM was the person SCANNING the
    code. We make sure all of our QR codes go to a search engine in THAT
    price point and area if it’s on a property. The apps are free and I find
    it NOT a BIG hassle to find the app, scan it and have it pop up. Bad
    sites are NOT the QR’s fault but of those who are marketing.

  • keaner

    “Apple and Android have yet to ship a
    phone with a QR reader pre-loaded. This is — and will be — a deal
    breaker in most cases, given the fact that these two mobile platforms
    accounted for north of 87.6% of all smart phones sold worldwide in 2012.”

    ummm yeah they do, Google now has a built in search by image that can scan qr codes.

  • http://twitter.com/stevecbriggs Steve Briggs

    yes – if you take a picture with the regular Android camera it opens a QR Code reader app (if you have one installed) – at least it does on my HTC

  • http://www.facebook.com/sjehutch Scott Hutchinson

    RIP QR code !!!

  • aaronstrout

    ;)

  • aaronstrout

    Shel – you know I respect your opinion. And to that end, I do put blame on marketers. However, regarding stats offered up by ScanLife, you’ll notice that they suggest a one time usage not ongoing usage. QR codes are so ubiquitous that everyone at some point in time decides to try scanning one (most times resulting in a disappointing experience).

    As for AR and NFC, those are coming. They too could be major flops if executed poorly but I see promise in both.

  • aaronstrout

    Simon – thank you for making my point!

  • aaronstrout

    David – I don’t disagree but I think the sum total of all the negative experiences will ultimately make people ask themselves “why should I bother.” Plus, it is still a clunky experience. Why not give me a short URL or short SMS code. Only takes me 10 seconds to open and input those.

  • aaronstrout

    agree!

  • aaronstrout

    ;)

  • aaronstrout

    Michael – sorry you don’t find my arguments against compelling. Let me make this simpler for you… poll 20 people on your Facebook page and find out how many a) scan QR codes regularly and b) how many of them can name more than 2 positive experiences they’ve had.

    As far as your arguments about marketers using incorrectly — YES! I’m not blaming the QR code. I’m just calling them like I see ‘em.

  • aaronstrout

    Greg – a) thank you for commenting and b) agree! But in some ways, that’s like saying if more people watched live TV, advertising would be more effective. The conclusion is correct but if the “what if” doesn’t materialize (iOS/Android don’t ever offer the technology as native) then it’s a moot point. ;)

  • aaronstrout

    Thanks Matt. Good points.

  • aaronstrout

    Ike – then amen to the QR code!

  • aaronstrout

    Chelsea – that’s called an Easter Egg. Glad you unlocked it. ;)

  • aaronstrout

    Kevin – yes, you are right.

  • aaronstrout

    Justin – I’d love to be proven wrong.

  • aaronstrout

    Thanks for that clarification. ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/ydropp Yves Dropp

    Wasn’t it Seth Godin who said the most effective highway billboard ever read: Free Coffee, Next Stop.

    It’ll take a while before you have a highway billboard with a QR code to be as effective & popular as those 4 words.

  • http://twitter.com/Web2MobileNow Web 2 Mobile & More

    A lot of Apps have in built QR Code readers than when scanned will directly download a coupon for a customer to receive a discount…..QR Codes when used the right way within a solid mobile marketing campaign can help businesses with their mobile marketing. Qr codes will be scanned many a time, over and over, if there is a decent incentive to scan them. They are just a tool:)

  • http://twitter.com/Web2MobileNow Web 2 Mobile & More

    And….I am tired of scanning QR Codes that lead to an impossible to read, navigate or even see , website!

  • http://twitter.com/carrielayne Carrie Layne

    Hey Aaron! Where’s my shout out for BestBuzz? ;) http://tech.co/bestbuzz-to-track-buzz-for-your-brand-2013-04

  • Russ_Somers

    I recently attended a Webinar where the host encouraged the attendees to scan a QR code on the screen. Not sure that was an optimal usage…

  • http://twitter.com/jimdhaem QRCArtist.com

    The Samsung S4 is said to have a built in QR Code reader and a NFC reader, I trying using them together at http://www.tap-scan.me. Check out my blog qrcartist.com for interesting uses in museums and education.

  • danou

    Like other commenters said, the problem is poor execution. I just came back from Europe where they are hugely popular and widely in use. They even use QR codes in TV game shows.

    So QR codes are dead? This statement is just as smart as the marketers who use non-mobile sites in the end of the URL’s.

    To the specifics, Galaxy S IV DOES come with a built-in QR scanner (and NFC), and so do the new Sony and Nokia models. It became a standard feature as you were typing your article.

    The alternatives you mentioned just don’t hold water – how many NFC tags are you going to embed in a magazine? Are you going to climb on a big billboard to tap your phone? Can you enforce good behavior on short SMS? NFC is cool but is orthogonal to the issue of badly designed sites.

    What IS dead is typing on mobile devices. It will be mostly replaced by scanning – by BOTH NFC for very close proximity (payments, devices…) and QR codes for a greater distance (paper support, large ads, TV and video ads etc.)

    I understand that writing about badly designed sites is less sexy than the sensational title of the death of the QR code, but this smells like the little religious wars a few bloggers have waged on QR codes which probably resulted from unrealistic expectations, or the mere desire to sound smart.

  • http://whatsnextblog.com whatsnext

    Excellent discussion here! Thanks for your reference to my 2011 post. I actually wrote one last week in which I said that QR Codes are history http://adage.com/article/digitalnext/qr-codes-dead-toppled-easy-apps/240548/ because of the poor execution by agencies and brands. It created quite a stir at AdAge :)

    B.L. Ochman
    What’s Next Blog http://www.whatsnextblog.com

  • danou

    Haha amen! This rant is pretty moronic and so un-original it’s very funny.

  • danou

    And an even more innovative use of QR codes: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324734904578243730813204830.html

    Aaron, are you living under a rock?

  • danou

    Yes. All the new models with the exception of iPhone (which doesn’t even have NFC) have or will have built-in QR code readers.

  • danou

    And then you will be directed to the same non-mobile web site? What is your point? I would rather scan and go to a bad site than actually type 8 characters on this tiny keyboard just to discover a useless page.

  • http://twitter.com/JamesonBull Jamie Bull

    Aaron – Can’t disagree with you on any point here. Except maybe the fact that I don’t think QR codes were ever really “alive” from a marketing perspective.

    What are your thoughts on some of the latest use of Shazam on TV? I’m not sure that I’ve made up my mind yet, but it is definitely interesting. Audio-only is obviously limiting, but at least there is a single standardized app. It doesn’t come standard or integrated on any smartphones, but it is at least pretty popular and has other uses with mass appeal. I haven’t seen any good case studies using shazam though.

  • http://twitter.com/gfoe Guy Foe

    Say it ain’t so! But actually, when I hand one of these cards to any twenty-something, they immediately know what to do and scan it: http://tsssp-pssst.appspot.com

  • http://twitter.com/TourismComp Tourism Competences

    very interesting fact, although that I heard from success stories due to QR Code in Asia, I give you right, I never scan QR-Codes by myself f.e.
    However, for http://www.bluemar.ch we try to make some deals using the QR Code

  • aaronstrout

    YAY B.L. #greatminds
    Will share you post on the socwebs now.

  • http://www.facebook.com/therealmordant C.j. Tihanyi

    Okay, let’s look at your alternatives.

    SMS short codes — every mobile phone has functionality that allows users to text.

    Translation: Spend your own money (phone credit) and you’ll get back a purely textual, size-limited response, IF the message makes it across, IF the reply makes it back, IF the number is compatible with your network provider. Requires the promoter to upgrade their technology to include SMS translation/gateway hardware. Still won’t work in subway, etc. Takes LONGER for the consumer to to complete this request than if it were a QR code. Won’t work for iPads /tablets with WiFi but no cellular connection. Kindly explain how this is the “simplest” answer.

    Augmented reality apps — these new technologies do require the download of a mobile app, but the payoff is immediate and allows for a much richer experience.

    Translation: Promoter spends tens of thousands (yes that’s correct) on a sizeable app which probably delivers overkill in terms of the volume/breadth of information consumer actually needs/wants. How does consumer find out about app, and how is it made easy to locate and download app? Well, you could, I don’t know, advertise it WITH A QR CODE MAYBE. I think your reality is “augmented” enough, hombre.

    Mobile apps, like Weight Watchers, that allow mobile interaction with existing UPC bar codes — this gets back to the “sometimes simpler is better” principle, and nearly every package/label in the world has a UPC bar code on it.

    Assumption: the only use for on-demand product information will be in an environment where there’s a barcode available. Will the aisle of the supermarket where that particular box of cereal is be on the subway or in an airport? Also, fun fact, UPCs take up way more space and store far less information. Which makes them fine for end retail, but that’s about it.

    Bluetooth and NFC (nearfield communication) — while these technologies are still in the nascent stages when it comes to communication between ads/products and mobile phones, they will become more prevalent over time and will require minimal effort on the part of the end user.

    Translation: Promoter spends MILLIONS of dollars for a substantial number of public electronic presences which have to be installed, maintained and repaired, in order to have a tiny footprint of people within reach, precious few of which will have Bluetooth switched on/understand what the connection request is or how or why/will appreciate having NFC/BT data push requests thrust upon their device without warning/many of which will either be highly offended or too privacy-aware to even consider participating. You are out of your tiny fucking mind if you think this is an “alternative” to the QR model.

    Tablet computing took over TWENTY YEARS to reach even 5% of market saturation (See: Palm Computing, Apple Newton), and the QR technology is now dominant in the fields of manufacturing, transport and logistics, because of its superior storage capacity: physical dimensions proportion. Momentum is slow in the public/marketing application for this technology but if you think that as a result, we should throw out the bathwater, the baby, the bath and go back to bathing in a river somewhere, you need your head examined. Seriously, dude, are you writing this article through a time portal from Soviet Russia. If so, give me coordinates and I will attempt to deliver you a Clue as you clearly have not one.

  • Bruce Bates

    QR sucks. It always sucked. I’ve used it. Never liked it. However the new wave of audio discounts is a bit different and I am liking that. You play a sound, it records to your phone, information is given such a discount coupon codes. Works wonders for websites that implement it. Its called gee.am (and thats the url also). Its really new but I am really liking the concept.

  • http://twitter.com/YoungbloodJoe Joe Youngblood

    QR codes are alive and well. I have clients that do get repeat usage. Consumers are not tying the stupid marketing uses for them to the QR codes themselves, but to the brands that being stupid. So yes, give a crap experience and you don’t get repeat usage, but of course that’s just marketing 101.

  • http://twitter.com/YoungbloodJoe Joe Youngblood

    The only point he made was that trying to get people to scan a QR code to buy real estate got him a 0.02% conversion rate. He failed to mention the number of cards passed out for the 3 home sales. I would say that taints the data he’s offering. We also don’t have methodology in place for his data.

    Given his experience could it be explained more that the free coffee is a gimmick and QR codes are not? The free coffee gimmick gets him in front of potential clients, and his salesmanship takes it from there.

  • http://twitter.com/YoungbloodJoe Joe Youngblood

    You do know that a QR code probably defeated all of your futile attempts at content marketing and made the very top of the front page of Reddit a few months ago right? And augmented reality is not really giving consumers what they want. Look at the “My Maccas” example in Australia, do you really want to watch the same cartoony farmer dance on your Big Mac every time you eat it?

    QR codes offer something non of those other technologies do, an easy, fast and cheap way for small businesses to communicate an idea to consumers. Do it right, and you win. Do it wrong and you should probably take up a different profession.

  • http://speiderschneider.blogspot.com Speider Schneider
  • http://www.bikestylespokane.com/ BarbChamberlain

    Your point about making sure whatever launches is optimized for the mobile context is an important one, but that doesn’t negate the potential value of the QR code for moving someone from interest to action.

    Your examples of alternatives to QR codes aren’t really things that offer the same functionality at the same price. I run a small nonprofit and the cost of setting up a 5-digit texting service, a mobile app, or an alternative reality experience (good heavens!) is prohibitive for us. Bluetooth/NFC only works for–duh–near field. If they’re nowhere near the product, activity, or service, what good is that?

    The application I’m looking at right now is simple: Generate an email request to be added to our list so we can contact you about a project.

    The steps needed to launch and type into an email app are essentially the same as those to launch and type into the QR scanner. Since with the QR code I can prefill our recipient email address and prevent user typos from sending the email astray, I’m making it easier for the sender and more effective for us in collecting valid emails. I’m not asking for a complete form to be filled out–that’s a follow-up step we can request that isn’t essential to getting the basic contact info we want.

    Your point about lack of repeat usage is completely irrelevant to my application. I only want that email inquiry once from any one user–multiples would just create work. Depending on the action or information behind the QR code, repeat scanning of the same code by the same user may or may not be a relevant metric for many potential uses.

    You don’t mention the most egregious problem of all: Counting on a QR code alone in a piece without providing any other means of getting in touch if interested. Now THAT’S frustrating.

  • Brian Meyer

    Not to mention in a lot of readers they just don’t work. That is more a problem with the application developers ( which include AT&T and other major brands ). I was implementing a QR Code editor to be integrated with our business card editor and I found most of the readers only could handle opening up a url, some even had issues on dialing a number, none of them could handle the VCard for forest gump ( which was on wikipedia as an example vcard ) This is not the camera reading it, it’s not even able to handle the data when it has it right.

    Further in talking to phone salesmen who sold phones ( so i could borrow the phones to scan codes ) they basically admitted that it kind of a joke since they tended to have so many issues.

    To Deal with this, I set up this test http://www.printbusinesscards.com/marketing/qrcode/QR-Code-Quality-Standards-Test.php and though the results are a bit out of date I scored various apps using this test. ( And a few actually went and fixed quite a few issues to fix their scores, but I’ve seen a lot of developers checking this out )

    http://www.printbusinesscards.com/marketing/qrcode/Picking-QR-Reader.php

    Basically we have working QR Code Vcards on our business cards we print, but very few apps actually handle the vcard well, and they are relatively large. And the phones themselves just don’t have the ability to support all the features. We really need an official QR code reader for each of the major smart phone OS’s before this is viable. ( actually i would never have shown this to customers except the effort the app developer for Qrafter put into fixing his app to deal with my test, since then i could actually prove the codes work )

  • Brian Meyer

    not needed, they can do it off of face recognition or images. If you can process video and add hyperlinks to it, all you have to do is look at a box in the store and you can get a link to their website. Just a matter of time before ads are surrounding us by the google advertising machine.

  • Brian Meyer

    Can they handle all the data you can put in a code, or just the url. ( vcard, mecard, youtube, sms, etc ) Has been a while since i checked, but there were big issues unless it’s just a simple url.

  • Linda Taylor-Ricci

    They are not dead. I used them to make a laptop purchase. Each laptop had a QR code and I was able to compare all the capabilities before making my purchase without the help of a customer service person.

    I convinced a client to put them on their packaging which helps the consumer with short YouTube videos for using their product. It has been a huge success!

    I have a QR code on the back of my business card which is my V-Card. My clients love the fact that with one scan, they have retained all my contact info.

    I believe that as far as marketing goes, they may not be the best platform but are very practical for information value.

 

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