There’s been a common-sense bypass for many in the recent race to use QR Codes in marketing campaigns. Sadly, as is often the case in the profession I love, common business sense goes out of the window in the rush to implement the latest cool and shiny thing.
A recent article in Marketing Week revealed that only just over 1 in 10 consumers had used a QR code in the past, less than half of whom found them useful and would like to see them more widely available. Apathy was found to be a barrier to adoption, cited by 23% of respondents to the survey.
I know how they feel. In the right circumstances, for the right type of application, QR Codes have very interesting potential, but only if:
- The objective is to drive offline customers online for deeper brand engagement or to convert them (to sale, to registration, to download)
- There is a high penetration of smart phone owners amongst your target audience
- The placement of the code is conducive to easy/safe scanning and represents a better customer experience than responding via other channels
So, there are two recent examples that have left me scratching my head.
Firstly, my local authority recently announced they are “trialling QR codes on our signs to keep people more informed about road works.” The facebook photo shows what appears to be a sheet of A4 paper sellotaped to a road sign.
I’d argue that the vast majority of people inconvenienced by road works are motorists. So how easy or safe is it to scan a QR code when driving, never mind how legal? A-ha, they’re one step ahead of me:
“The technology can only be used by pedestrians or cyclists, as users need to scan the code with their mobile phone, so it suits schemes like temporary pavement and cycleway closures.”
I’m not convinced.
Then I saw what appeared to be a poster ad for Investec Bank, who have for a number of years used a Zebra as part of their visual identity.
Closer inspection revealed that it was actually a poster for Intel under the “Visibly Smart” campaign, where a QR Code had been made to incorporate the Zebra’s eye. This would have made a great magazine ad creative…for Investec, but a roadside poster for Intel with an unscannable QR Code?
Do you have any examples of particularly good or bad practice in this area? Will we still be talking about QR Codes in 12 months time, or is this a fad for bored marketers with post-recession budget cuts and ‘free’ toys to play with? I’d love to hear your thoughts.