It’s been several years now since the first QR Codes started to appear all over print ads, billboards and all other forms of print advertising, yet the majority of people still don’t know what they are, what they do or how they work.  So that’s kind of bad…  But what is even worse is seeing companies that are actually using QR Codes the wrong way!

In very basic terms, a QR Code (or Quick Response Code) is a trademark of a two dimensional barcode.  If you’re curious, you can read up more about the origin of QR Codes here.  The way they work is quite simple: You scan the code with your Smart Phone, and the code takes you to a pre-programmed link with further information and features about the subject of the advertisement.

So why are the QR Codes just not catching up with the majority of Smart Phone users?  According to most surveys, the thre main reasons are:

  • Only Windows Smart Phones come with a QR Reader built-in, Android, iPhones and Blackberry phones require the user to download a free app.  Most people just don’t bother or see the benefit of doing that.
  • Lack of Information.  A lot of people see the QR Code but they don’t really know that the funky looking graphic is actually meant to be scanned by viewers to access additional information.  We’re so used to seeing barcodes everywhere that the QR Codes simply get lost.
  • Bad Experience.  Companies and advertisers that are using QR Codes are often programming them to simply link to their existing website or landing page which offers no additional benefit compared to going to the website directly through the browser.  In most cases, that website is not even optimized to be viewed from a Smart Phone.  Hint: if you’re using a QR Code, make sure that you design a landing page that is Smart Phone friendly!

Fortunately, for those of us that still think the QR Codes are a cool way to advertise, there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

With NFC becoming more popular and a standard in most current Smart Phones, there are new and advanced opportunities to use QR Codes to their fullest potential.  Companies and marketing agencies will still need to be creative and engage their viewers with a unique phone-based advertising experience, but the newer technologies will simplify the path along the way.