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QR codes find a home in mobile marketing, but for how long?

By Joe Hewitson / April 16, 2013

In today’s mobile world, much of our lives are spent tapping away on small devices as we consume ever increasing amounts of information. This radical shift in the way you and I experience the world around us has caused a similar shift in the way marketers reach their target audience. QR codes have become a hot — if not gimmicky — trend in mobile marketing and have taken full advantage of our dependence on mobile devices.

Invented way back in 1994 with the intent to track vehicles during the manufacturing process, nearly two decades have passed since their introduction. QR codes have undergone several transformations in recent years, with alterations in the way they look and the very way they’re used. Once thought of as a simple 2D barcode, modern barcodes have become dynamic and downright artistic.

QR marketing done right

As widespread as this technology seems to be these days, there are a few who have found exceptional success through innovative use of these codes. Budweiser, for instance, featured QR codes on shipments of its ubiquitous ale. Consumers who purchased packs with the codes on board could actually track the history of the very beer they drank. This information included details about physical location during shipping down to the very brewing process it underwent at birth.

Disney is likewise poised to capitalize on the benefits of a well-executed QR campaign. By including QR codes on nearly everything in its Paris theme park, Disney hopes to augment its already magical experience by giving customers added information and interactions via scanning. QR codes at the entrance will deliver basic park info while those near specific rides will drive to engaging videos and tailored websites.

Marketing isn’t the only area seeing increased adoption of this cubic technology. A recent article over at Mobile Commerce News describes the future use of QR codes by the Oklahoma State Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision. They intend to use this technology to provide quicker access to medical resources from training materials to lab access.

Making it part of your go-to-market strategy

Online QR generators have made it a simple task to create codes for use in marketing. By utilizing the built-in error tolerance, these codes can be made into ornate designs with eye-catching logos woven into the scattered squares. Some creative folks have taken static QR codes to new heights recently by providing a dynamic back end, as discussed in this Webdesigner Depot article.

Follow the steps to generate a custom QR code, deploy it on any number of marketing materials and then capitalize on the routing service to change the destination of users who scan the code at any time. This can dramatically increase the lifespan of a given code as well as grant more flexibility to the overall campaign strategy. Oh, and let’s not forget this technology also provides instant feedback with vital information about the consumer, including geographic location, contact information and general demographics.

What’s next?

There are other mobile shortcuts making an impact on marketing as well. For example, television and radio ads have begun featuring segments where users can “Shazam” the audio with their phone and — just like with QR codes — be sent to a targeted website or video. But QR Code’s biggest rival in the “scan for info” arena comes in the form of NFC tags. This is because the main drawback to QR codes lies in the amount of effort users expend to open their mobile device, fire up their code scanning app, line up the image and press scan.

While this might not sound like a herculean task, the simple fact is many users just aren’t interested enough to bother jumping through those hoops. NFC, on the other hand, simply needs the user’s device to be in close proximity of the tag. On top of that, you don’t have to worry about finagling ugly barcodes because NFC tags can be covered by any manner of logo or art.

It’s evident that QR codes are enjoying widespread use in today’s marketing environment, and as the technology continues to mature and shake the gimmicky facade, that success is likely to grow. The question of how long QR codes can endure remains to be seen, however, as newer and more flexible technologies like NFC start to take hold.