One of my biggest gripes about QR codes used as an advertising vehicle has little to do with their effectiveness (although I do have doubts about how effective they are in the long term). One of my biggest gripes has to do with the lack of creativity that goes into the global experience that surrounds them. Especially the most important portion which happens after the scan takes place. That overall lack of creative design is what leads to most call to action failures when it comes to QR codes, or NFC based campaigns as well.
A great example of where the post scan action is extremely creative, and effective is CP+B‘s “Couple Up to Buckle Up” campaign for Scandinavian Airlines. The campaign uses two unique QR codes across every touch point, from email to Facebook, print, to direct mail etc. that leverages how couples commonly book trips. The campaign works like this, couples each scan a unique QR code which displays half of a video offer. In order to get the offer to work, both smartphones have to be connected to get the entire promotion. Simple yet effective game play that helps extend the offer and build the brand in a fun and memorable way.
Since I work for a company that produces augmented reality stuff, I am always on the look out for new augmented reality things. This year, Christmas seems to be crawling with QR code, and augmented reality digital add-ons to physical products. One cleaver use of augmented reality, and one that I wish my company had done (and would have done much better) is “Talking Tags” from American Express by Ogilvy Sydney.
Talking Tags is a direct marketing campaign where every American Express card holder was sent a “Talking Tag” that drove them to an Augmented Reality experience online.
I’m not crazy about the quality of the animation, or the editorial, but the idea is great.
If you are into the whole QR code thing, you probably have noticed that everyone you have seen is static. Red Bee Media has created an animated QR Code for “The Fades” showing on BBC 3 in the UK. The QR code allows for both live action footage and animation before closing on the final image. What is cool is you can scan the code at anytime the animation is playing and be taken directly to a microsite promoting the show.
QR Codes are nothing new. The things have been around since 1994, but in the last year they seem to have exploded with the proliferation of smartphones with cameras. These days you can’t go a day without seeing one it seems like, but the cold hard fact is six out of ten Americans don’t know what they are, and the number is about the same for people who will actually scan them. None the less marketers and advertisers continue to develop and roll out QR codes right and left. In the graphic below there were three things that reinforced my opinion about QR codes, their use, and their possible future.
6 out of 10 don’t know what they are.
Almost 60% are found in retail locations and or magazines
87% of the people who do scan them expect a coupon when the associated site launches.
if you put this together it’s not what I would call a winning formula. It basically means that you are expecting 29% of your target audience to take a phone out while shopping, pick up an item, launch the QR reader on their phone, point it at the code, then save a digital coupon. You are also expecting the cashier to know what to do with the coupon when it is presented. The same thing is true with people seeing these in a magazine. You are expecting the reader to stop reading, get their phone, fire up the software, scan the code, and execute on what ever your QR code serves up. That is provided your audience isn’t one of the six out of ten that have no clue about what your QR code is.
Right now there are to many steps, and too much confusion about what QR codes are and how to effectively use them. This is why I keep thinking that they are short lived and will be eclipsed by better technology in the near future. Smartphone adoption has helped generate buzz about them, and I know QR codes are here to stay. I’m just not all that convinced they are going to give you any ROI that is worth your time.
The infographic below is from SystemID. if you scan the QR code at the bottom of the image you will be taken to their mobile site where there is even more info on QR codes and what you can do with them.