Those outside of major U.S. cities and Japan might not be familiar with the concept of QR advertising. Quick Response (QR) displays are basically two dimensional bar codes that can be read with special scanners, Smartphones, and ordinary cell phones that include cameras. These have been around since 1994, but they haven’t exactly caught fire the States
American retailers seemed skeptical of their utility at first, which isn’t surprising considering how much this platform differs from traditional campaigns. However, the increasing popularity of Smartphones has many companies reassessing the value of this technology in terms of mobile marketing.
QR codes aren’t much to look at; they’re hardly on par with the eye catching ads consumers are used to seeing on billboards. Nevertheless, they store far more data than regular displays and contain the vital interactive component that PDA users thrive on. People that are constantly on the go are less likely to pay attention to a static poster or even a flashing commercial. These types of consumers usually ignore fliers and promptly dump them in the trash can. They’re typically zeroed in on some type of portable device, whether it’s an iPhone, Droid, or an iPad. Nothing pulls them away from that small screen, so it’s best to adapt the model to suit their behavior. These customers are definitely worth targeting because they tend to be young professionals that have higher amounts of disposable income.
Numerous companies integrated QR codes into their Black Friday promotions, including electronics giant Best Buy. Even some small businesses are jumping on the bandwagon because this medium affords them an inexpensive way to offer exclusive deals or promote their websites. The versatility of the interface is attractive as well, since customers can access QR generated content as they browse inside the store. Of course, QR content doesn’t have to be sales driven. Companies interested in long term branding efforts might choose to provide non-monetary incentives, such as entertaining videos or free music downloads.
This technology is still in its infancy stages, but experts agree that its potential is virtually limitless. Currently, Smartphone users account for roughly 20-30% of the population, so they are a kind of niche market. Nevertheless, QR ads are up a whopping 700% since the beginning of 2010. This means that QRs are no longer the wave of the future; within the next couple of years, they will likely be an industry standard.