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Are QR Codes Worth the Hype?

If you were to have blinked anytime in the past year, you might have missed the arrival (re-arrival?) of QR Codes in the United States. Just look around and you’ll see that QR codes are literally popping up everywhere. They’re in magazines, on posters and stickers, on business cards, inside store front windows, hidden in books, and prominently displayed on signage all across the country. But why? Why now? Have QR codes truly arrived into the mainstream for good or are they merely another passing fad?

Digital meets the real world

Quick Response codes (aka QR codes) may be relatively new to the states, but they’ve been around just about as long as public internet access. QR codes have been present in Asia for over a decade and have only recently soared in popularity, in part due to the increasing adoption of smartphones. Most camera equipped phones with Wi-Fi access are capable of downloading a QR code scanner and picking up data from a QR codes is as simple as pointing a phone at the 2D black and white image and snapping a picture. Text, audio, images, or a website URL are almost instantly received.

Are QR codes actually being used?

Everyone from small business to ad agencies are trying to crack the secret on how to best use QR codes for marketing, but the truth is that many people are still clueless as to what a QR code actually is. We also need to take into account the fact that the majority of us still don’t own a smartphone. It’s worth mentioning though that QR codes do end up getting noticed. A recent study says that 72% of those with smartphones are likely to recall an ad with a QR code in it, although only 32% have ever scanned a QR code.

Marketing purposes

QR codes are everywhere, but only a small portion of the crowd is actually scanning them.
It’s good news for early adopters, but bad news for those of us who are trying to get the most out of advertising budgets and space. Fortunately for the willing, QR codes are relatively easy to get in front of the public. Creating an in-store display ad is relatively easy and should have a low investment cost and a potentially high return. Before getting overly ambitious keep in mind that some of the best examples are those in which QR codes are just one aspect of an advertisement and not forced upon us.

For creating QR codes, I recommend checking out SPARQCode, a useful resource that includes free analytics.


1 Comment
  1. I agree that awareness of QR codes are relatively low and many people do not even realize they can scan QR codes with their smart phone. I expect that they will become more interesting as a marketing tactic in the future as smart phone adoption rises. I just created a QR code for my blog in about a minute http://qrcode.kaywa.com/img.php?s=8&d=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.charlessipe.com

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