Have you heard? There’s a new technology making its way to the masses of the Western world: QR codes. Formerly reserved for the technologically savvy and (let’s face it) slightly geeky, QR codes are now being integrated into mass marketing. The young and the old, smartphone and “normal” phone users alike are invited to scan these two-dimensional codes in order to access additional branded content online.
Purely from a marketing standpoint, QR codes hold a great dealof potential. They prompt viewers to engage with the brand across multiple touch points — in print and then on their phones through video, audio, or even a website — and getting consumers more involved with your brand is always desirable. Plus, the novelty factor alone is likely to generate great word-of-mouth buzz for brands that use this technology.
Not sure they will catch on? The Smithsonian family of museums just completed a large campaign that used QR codes to facilitate a scavenger hunt through nine of its museums, where visitors could check in to answer questions and compete for an Apple iPad. Sports Illustrated also introduced QR codes in a recent issue so that readers could unlock additional images of some of its swimsuit models. Ralph Lauren was using these codes as early as 2008 to promote mobile shopping. The possibilities are vast.
From a direct navigation standpoint, QR codes are great because they can link directly to a URL, thereby eliminating the risk of type-in errors. Scanning a code that transports the user to web content ensures that viewers are presented with your brand’s content and that they are not diverted to another site. Not to mention, tiny keyboards can make typing addresses into a phone’s browser a hassle. Scanning a code is much quicker and, therefore, makes consumers much more likely to engage with brands when they’re on the go.
QR codes are not playing a huge role in computer-based web browsing. But, I wouldn’t be surprised if these codes become the next big trend on the mobile web.