QR Codes = Questionable Results

QR Codes seem to be popping up everywhere, in restaurants, on billboards, and even on the back of airline ticket stubs.  But now QR codes are increasingly trending toward the bizarre.

A few months ago, we made a blog post comparing to effectiveness of SMS to QR Codes.  QR codes may still be a fashionable, trendy way to interact with your audience, but in order for your audience to receive the full benefit from QR codes, they must first have the technology and the know-how.

Just to reiterate a few points from that article:

  • QR codes limit the number of people who can access a campaign.  Since only 41% of cell phone users own a smartphone, you are cutting off access to your promotion by more than half!
  • QR codes put unneeded technological pressure on your audience.  Since QR Codes are a relatively new form of advertising, your audience is still in the midst of a learning curve.  In a recent survey of new and seasoned smartphone users, only 13% were able to scan a QR correctly on the first try!

Unfortunately, QR codes are more ubiquitous than the people who can actually use them.  Texting on the other hand is straightforward and has been around long enough that it has become second nature to most cellphone users.   That being said, the trendiness of QR Codes has now spawned a design industry itself.

In an effort to make QR Codes more exciting to the public, designers are spending a great deal of effort to push the boundaries of this medium.  You can already find QR Codes that incorporate a business’s logo for better brand recognition.  But more and more, you can now see QR Codes composed of M&Ms, Bottle Caps, sand sculptures, and QR Codes carved from wood.

Creativity has also overtaken the placement of QR Codes.  QR Codes are now being placed on jewelry, fast food wrappers, building permits, and even the backsides of female British athletes (how one is supposed to scan them remains a mystery):

But while campaigns such as these may receive great secondary attention from an audience impressed by the innovations in design and placement, these campaigns fail to appreciate that QR Codes still can only be used by a small demographic of this audience.

While QR Codes seem to have enchanted designers, they have yet to capture the public.

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