Quick Response (QR) codes have existed for 16 years now. These two-dimensional scancodes were originally designed for convenience purposes in manufacturing and logistics, but were adopted pretty quickly by advertisers. The big advantage over regular barcodes is that they can be scanned with low-resolution lenses, and they pack more information on a smaller space. Using the proper application, a QR code can be scanned with your mobile phone and link you to… whatever mobile. Be it a mobile website, video, ringtone or wallpaper: people do not want to start typing a URL to access these things on their mobile phone. But when you just have to scan a QR code, you can easily be persuaded to visit or download mobile content.
And that is huge: for the first time, real world objects can link to the internet in a direct and effortless way.
This means that a traditional magazine or billboard advertisement can be enhanced and expanded with mobile media. And that, in turn, means: more return on the advertiser’s investment. In Japan, always a few years ahead of the game, 2D-scanning is widely adopted and the streets, products and magazines are covered in QR codes.
Is advertising the only opportunity for QR? No. This guy managed to list 101 useful applications for QR. Some are a little far-fetched, but hey, he reached 101 didn’t he?
And why is QR only mainstreaming in Japan? Why isn’t it part of our daily media consumption? First of all, most Japanese have a 3G subscription (75.3% of total population, Netsize Guide 2010, stats from 3Q2009). In Europe, 3G subscription rate (24.1% of totap population, Qualcomm 2010, stats from 4Q2009) is increasing, but we’re not quite there yet. Today however, we’re more than convinced: QR is coming. It’s coming to our breakfast cereals, to our newspapers, our business cards, t-shirts and to our billboards.
The reason that we are so confident to post this article today, is because of 3 reasons:
The game makers are ready. Lately, we have seen QR being pushed by some of the major players. Google recently shipped a unique QR code to the 100.000 most searched stores in the US. Through the QR codes, people can easily access the Google profile of the store, including reviews and practical information. Facebook has also been experimenting with QR. Rumour is that users will soon be able to generate a status QR code, that reveals their most recent status update.
Advertisers are ready. Mobile has become a clear new focus for advertisers and brands. The enormous growth of the mobile market has made them more than curious. At the same time, the dust has settled, and we can now safely say that mobile is not there to replace certain traditional media. Print media will always exist, television will always exist, billboards will always exist. No matter how big mobile becomes. And that’s exactly the opportunity for QR: it bridges traditional media with mobile.
People are ready. In the next few years, smartphone penetration will increase dramatically. With that, the threshold for new mobile technology adoption is getting lower and lower. Already, we see people adopting some of the most magical features of smartphones at an amazing pace. Location based services were non-existent just a few years ago, but now we grab our iPhone or Android almost instinctively when we’re looking for something nearby.
If you want to use a QR code professionally in a campaign, you will need tracking of the number of scans and mobile content to link the code to. In The Pocket is working on a platform to create, manage and track QR campaign. Feel free to contact us.
To finish with a recent QR case that caught our attention: normally we would avoid using QR codes on curvy surfaces because they are harder to scan. Sometimes however, we are glad to make an exception…