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QR codes were first introduced by car manufacturers as a way to track parts; as the barcode-like designs began to spread beyond the factory floor, developers envisioned a world covered in QR. That hasn’t happened. While QR, or quick response, codes offer fast readability and ample storage, they have not been widely adopted. Why not? And is this set to change in the New Year?

How Do QR Codes Work?

Most smartphones have a QR reader onboard. The user simply snaps a picture of the 2D barcode and the reader resolves the link. The link could lead to anything from websites and blogs to videos and social media profiles. One place QRs have been popping up is on billboards. As users go by, they can take a picture, and then get more information.

This can be invaluable for businesses because it allows them to share virtually unlimited information without paying more for space. A typical ad may only let you use 150 characters, for instance, but with a QR code, you are not restricted. Inserting a code into an ad, mailer, email, letterhead, or other form of advertising allows you to do more for less. Plus, it’s free. It’s win-win. Well, not quite. QR code adoption has lagged for several reasons. People don’t want to bother downloading programs to read the codes; people don’t really know what they lead to; they can be hard to photograph.

This may change in 2012 as businesses seek to squeeze out the most value from their advertising budgets – and as smartphone adoption continues to grow. The applications are virtually endless; a restaurant could, for instance, offer a free appetiser for those who scan the QR code or a retail shop could offer a coupon on a particular product. They can be used in conjunction with print, television, and social media to supplement information.

Businesses need to tackle the biggest stumbling blocks to adoption which are customer buy-in and a standard format which allows readers to easily scan the codes. By educating their customers and showcasing the rewards, businesses can bring the QR code to life and start using them to creatively boost marketing efforts.

Posted by Gurdeep Matharu, Senior Account & Business Development Manager at Bullseye Media

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