A quick response (QR) code is a type of a two-dimensional barcode that relies on a visual representation of data. While the core concept is not new, the effectiveness of its current iteration combined with the mass adoption of mobile devices with web connectivity raised the usability of the technology to an unprecedented level. Currently, QR codes are actively used for a wide variety of marketing applications. The following paper outlines the potential of the technology for marketing using physical media with a focus on digital tracking of physical marketing.
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A QR code is a two-dimensional barcode, usually in a rectangular shape that contains data encrypted in a visual format. The code can be decrypted using an optical scanner capable of converting the data into plain text. The reliability and simplicity of the practice have contributed to its seamless adoption by consumers. Currently, an overwhelming majority of the phones on the market are equipped with hardware sufficient for QR code recognition, and the software for both encryption and decryption of codes is freely available and accessible (Cata et al. 2). The most important aspect of the technology is the possibility of a seamless transition between physical and digital media. As a result, the feature was capitalized in numerous marketing campaigns (Ryu and Murdock 111). Most commonly, QR codes were added to posters, business cards, brochures, product tags and manuals, and surfaces such as trailer sides. Due to the reliability and error correction capacity, it is also possible to present code in a creative way, such as in the form of a fragmented image, which is recognizable both by a human eye and a scanner, adding value to the presentation. Finally, the online connectivity of a device used for scanning (e.g. a smartphone) allows for a significant increase in the interactivity of the media by adding links to audio and video messages.
However, one of the most potentially disruptive applications of technology is the ability to gather data on the effectiveness of physical media. In some cases, it is possible to create a code that would register scanning instances and log them onto a dedicated platform. The approach has contributed to the success of several major marketing campaigns by Verizon (MMA). This result can be achieved in three ways. First, it is possible to use publicly available services such as myqr.co and goo.gl. The shortened links generated by these services track access instances and log basic consumer behavior information, such as the location of the individual using the scanner. The solution is inexpensive, allowing for a 200% increase in sales in some cases (Research Now SSI). However, this option provides only the essential information that may be insufficient for business-scale metrics. The second option is to utilize GPS-based tracking for collecting data. Specifically, it is possible to associate GPS data with barcode scan results. While eliminating the reliance on a third party, this method requires the use of proprietary scanning software and is thus only marginally suitable for marketing purposes. Finally, it is possible to use a proprietary system capable of tracking and processing data. The advantages of the approach include flexibility of code adjustment, seamless access to and conversion of metrics data, and customization of reports for different marketing purposes. Currently, the latter can be considered the most feasible option for digitizing metrics pertinent to printable media.
As can be seen, QR codes contain sufficient potential for digitizing marketing metrics of physical media. In addition to enhanced accessibility, ease of use, and capacity for creative presentation, the possibility to obtain details of a QR code use provides marketers with better control over the process allows introducing adjustments and tweaks to the campaign. Finally, it streamlines the analytical marketing capabilities and, as a result, offers relevant data in a timely manner. Therefore, it is reasonable to include QR codes into the company’s future marketing strategies.
Cata, Teuta, et al. “QR Code: A New Opportunity for Effective Mobile Marketing.” Journal of Mobile Technologies, Knowledge and Society, vol. 2013, 2013, pp. 1-7.
MMA. “Verizon Wireless Sees Over 150,000 Scans of ScanLife QR Codes.” MMA, 2010. Web.
Research Now SSI. “How QR Codes Helped Verizon’s Sales Increase 200 Percent.” Research Now SSI, 2013. Web.
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Ryu, Jay Sang, and Kenneth Murdock. “Consumer Acceptance of Mobile Marketing Communications Using the QR Code.” Journal of Direct, Data and Digital Marketing Practice, vol. 15, no. 2, 2013, pp. 111-124.