QR Codes are not Junk…Junk is Junk

On June 9, an article was posted on BNET by Constantine von Hoffmann entitled, “QR Codes: What Happens When You Add Technology To Junk Mail.” It seems as though Mr. Hoffman thought my original comment to his article did not make a strong enough case for why I disagreed with his thoughts, so I would like to restate my case here. Below, please see Mr. Hoffman’s reply to my original comment and then my reply.

@r_marquis You have not made anything resembling a case for how any of this will actually help me the consumer. If an advertiser does this then it will work well. What is the “this” you refer to here? The theory is valid only as long as you believe the underlying assumption.

These are all ways to inflict more information on me about your product. Marketing people act the these codes were the equivalent of aps. A good Ap — like the Gibson branded guitar tuner — provides me with something.

And really, when was the last time you were walking down the street, saw an ad and said, “I hope they can deploy a truly remarkable experience.”? Step away from the jargon and back into real life.

@constantine The effectiveness of any advertising, traditional or digital, QR Code or non-QR Code, is in the eye of the consumer. An advertiser can spend tens of thousands of dollars on the strategic planning, creative production and tactical execution of an ad, but if the intended audience, or consumers in general, find little or no real relevancy, value and/or benefit in the ad’s message, as well as the product/service being promoted, then chances are the ad will be perceived as junk, or as an interruption, and not paid attention to or acted upon.

If an advertiser creates a QR Code-based campaign that offers very little in the way of relevancy, value and/or benefit to the consumer, in addition to a poor user experience, then chances are the campaign will be perceived as junk or an interruption. If, however, an advertiser crafts a QR Code-based campaign that is relevant and offers value, benefit and meaning to a consumer, in addition to a decent user experience (i.e., a user experience that is intended for a mobile platform) then chances are the campaign will be perceived as being something to pay attention to and interact with. And, the prospect moves one step closer to becoming an actual customer. This is the point I was trying to make in my initial comment.

So, after all is said and done, what do customers get out of a QR Code interaction? Consumers can get detailed product information, retail store locations, coupons, chances to enter a contest, see a video, listen to an audio file, download a book, download an app, download vCard information, download a map, ability to purchase, etc., all on their mobile phone, if this happens to be the platform of choice. From the advertiser’s perspective, all of these different types of deliverables become methods by which a consumer can engage and interact with a brand (excuse me if I am using too much jargon), which last I knew is a rather desirable objective to work towards and achieve.

With respect to your comment about stepping back into real life, you are right I don’t walk down the street looking at QR Code-based ads saying, “I hope this one offers a remarkable experience.” But, I do look at QR Code-based ads (and ads in general) and say, “Does the company really expect me to take them seriously when this is the message, offer, creative and/or user experience they put in front of me?” And, this, I believe, ties in with the thought or comment of, what’s in it for me [the consumer]? Your right, companies using QR Code technology need to keep the campaign in perspective, the consumer’s perspective, not their own, and this can be said for any type of marketing, not just QR Code-based marketing. So, if the items mentioned above are delivered in a sensible and consumer-focused way, then this is how the question, what’s in it for me, gets answered.

In summary, there are plenty of different technologies at a marketer’s disposal, pick one, any one. If the marketer ends up developing and implementing a campaign based on a particular technology with blinders on, and not from the consumer’s perspective, then chances are high that the campaign will be perceived as junk. Mr. Hoffman, please don’t condemn QR Code technology just because some marketers are not using it properly. If this is your line of thinking then, how do you feel about email, telemarketing, direct marketing, television, banner ads, etc.? Surely they all have a place at the integrated marketing table. If these other marketing channels and mediums are used improperly, and with little regard to best practices, then don’t they all stand a chance of being considered as junk? Sorry, was that too much jargon again?


One thought on “QR Codes are not Junk…Junk is Junk

  1. A QR code is just a Web link in a printed form. Just like a Web link, if the destination to which the code links is satisfying, entertaining or engaging, the user will have a positive response to the message. If it's just a link to a static Web page, the user will quickly click away. The code itself is the least important component. The emphasis has to be on the link and the user experience.

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