Do a random search for QR Codes (Quick Response) and you'll find a multitude of articles describing how to use QR Codes to market your products or services. You'll also find an equal amount of articles describing how much of a problem they pose for users. Despite being popular in other countries around the world, QR codes have yet to really catch on to the mainstream in the United States. Many of the issues surrounding the QR codes relate to how they are used. For instance, you would never want to use a QR code on a billboard. To do so would be asinine. Believe it or not some advertisers have tried this. Just Google it and you'll see some of those efforts. I mean really, scan a QR code while driving by a billboard? Come on!
The QR code has to have a purpose, otherwise it's wasted time for the consumer. Don't just generate QR codes to send a user to a website, doing that just makes it a glorified bookmark on someones phone. Make it relevant with a call to action. For instance in the case of a car ad, use the QR code to take you inside the car with a short video, then link the video to an email asking the consumer to sign up for a test drive with the dealership. Give the advertiser more for their money and make it worth the consumers time to scan the code. Check out how were effectively using QR codes for our clients and consumers.
But I think there is a hidden value to QR codes. That value lies outside the realm of marketing. Use it where it really matters to the consumer. Use it as part of information content and NOT part of advertising. For instance a reporter for a local newspaper writes an in-depth article about a controversial education plan in the community. While the story itself is accurate and in depth, it is by default limited to the number of inches the editor allows for the story.
Many newspapers use video to supplement their websites, but not in their print product. Cue the QR code. Add code to the article about the educational plan that links to unedited video interviews about the plan. Give more depth to the article by allowing consumers to get more information immediately instead of waiting for the next edition or the evening newscasts. Or use a code to give a sneak peak to an event with incredible photography. Multiple pictures now available as a slideshow instead of a single color picture in an article. Or let the code link to an incredible sports play in last night's football game. Let the reader see the play instead of having it described.
Ultimately use the QR code to expand on journalistic content. It can give the written word the power of broadcast and the Internet, maybe just a little boost of life for the world of print. It also gives you the opportunity to sell pre-roll ads right out of the paper. Think about it. More content. More relevance. More money. It's win-win for everyone.