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QR  Codes  (Good Bad Ugly)
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QR Codes (Good Bad Ugly)


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  • 1. QR Codes: The Good, The Bad, and The UglyWednesday, June 29, 2011
  • 2. Best Practices of QR The Beginning Created by Denso-Wave in 1994, the QR code is one of the most popular types of two- dimensional barcodes. The QR code was designed to allow decoding at high speeds and and allow a successful read when partially distorted. Originally used to track parts and shipping, the barcode has found widespread use for marketing purposes.Wednesday, June 29, 2011
  • 3. Best Practices of QR Types of Mobile Tags There are literally dozens of variations on the mobile tag, From the minimalist Beetag, to the novelty of the Shotcode and intriguing colors of the Microsoft Tag each Mobile Tag functions as a portal to augment content in a way that adds dimension to the medium it rests upon. This presentation focuses exclusively on the QR code given it’s popularity, however there are merits to many of the tags.Wednesday, June 29, 2011
  • 4. Best Practices of QR QR Capability While most QR codes resolve to a website, there are a number of possible actions that can be associated with a QR code. Here is a list of the most popular actions. Source:, June 29, 2011
  • 5. Best Practices of QR QR Best PracticesWednesday, June 29, 2011
  • 6. Best Practices of QR Inform Behavior Although QR codes are becoming more commonplace it is necessary to provide instructions for those new to the code in order to ensure a positive experience. Training consumer behavior is one of the hardest hurdles to overcome with any new technology, but with consistent adherence to this best practice more consumers will begin to scan QR codesWednesday, June 29, 2011
  • 7. Best Practices of QR Mobilize Your Content Scanning barcodes is an inherently mobile experience. Your customers will be using their mobile devices to scan barcodes so your content needs to be optimized for a mobile environment. All too often consumers scan a barcode only to be taken to a desktop website requiring a lot of work on their end to interact with. Most users will disengage from the experience altogether. Ensure the effectiveness of your campaign by creating a mobile specific site to which you can direct consumers.Wednesday, June 29, 2011
  • 8. Best Practices of QR Make the Content Valuable Give your customers a reason to scan your QR code. In this example Chick-fil-a entices consumers to scan the QR code in order to receive free food. Mobile exclusive offers encourage consumers to experiment with the technology and engage the visitor in a way that makes decoding the QR code worth their while. A positive experience with your brand will lead to repeat scans and scans of future promotions.Wednesday, June 29, 2011
  • 9. Best Practices of QR Context and Relevance are Key QR codes serve as an excellent way to augment the experience of whatever activity a consumer is engaged in during that moment. Providing a more engaging experience creates more touch points between them and your brand, however, proper execution requires that the experience is relevant to the context of what the consumer is doing at any given time. As seen in this picture, providing a lone QR code with no call to action or specific relevance to what a consumer may be doing, the QR code seems completely out of place.Wednesday, June 29, 2011
  • 10. Best Practices of QR Have a Purpose It’s easy to fall victim to Shiny Object Syndrome and create a QR code just because it’s cool. Instead, use your QR code to augment or create new experiences. Advance customer engagement by providing meaningful content that reflects the goals of your marketing strategy. By defining the important metrics for your campaign it should be easy to track its effectiveness. The content users encounter should be geared fit those goals. This QR code was created to enable consumers with smartphones to donate to Japan relief efforts without much more than a simple QR scan. Focused and effective.Wednesday, June 29, 2011
  • 11. Best Practices of QR Size Matters Your QR code doesn’t have to fill a billboard, but it should be big enough to receive notice amongst all the other elements in your print work, and be at least large enough for QR scanners to read clearly. The minimum size should be 1.25" by 1.25”; the code will become difficult to scan at smaller sizes.Wednesday, June 29, 2011
  • 12. Best Practices of QR Placement Matters Make sure to put your QR Codes in a place people can use them. This means thinking through where people will be scanning your codes and making sure the code is easy to access. In this scenario the QR code is often in motion and requires consumers to scan the tag while driving, a dangerous activity at best. Making only infrequent stops, most likely at storage facilities with few people to take notice, this QR code is poorly thought out. Other poor ideas: On a high traffic retail doorway Tail end of a TV commercialWednesday, June 29, 2011
  • 13. Best Practices of QR Keep the URL Short Longer URLs increase the complexity of the QR code, requiring larger image sizes for proper scanning, and decreasing the amount of error correction that can be stored on a standard code. This can negatively affect the user experience, making the barcodes harder to scan. When possible, use a URL shortener in order to enhance the scannability of your code, and add tracking capability for analytics packages. If a branded short URL is not available, commercial URL shorteners like and will work well. Link to: Same Link using URL shortener pranav_mistry_the_thrilling_potential_of_sixthsense_technology.htmlWednesday, June 29, 2011
  • 14. Best Practices of QR Keep your promotions up to date Nothing will agitate your fans and customers more than investigating a novel technology only to be disappointed by a broken link, expired promotion, or unrelated content. Since QR codes do not expire there is a strong possibility you will see scans coming in long after a promotion has ended. Provide a worthwhile experience for these customers by keeping pages up to date, or, as shown here, providing a link to relevant content they will also find engaging.Wednesday, June 29, 2011
  • 15. Best Practices of QR Make it Easy to Share QR codes are inherently mobile, and mobile is inherently social. Give visitors to your mobile property the tools to spread your message. By providing easy access to social networks via your mobile content visitors are more likely to share experiences they find engaging with their network, increasing the exposure of your mobile marketing. People spread awesome. Make it easy for them to do so.Wednesday, June 29, 2011
  • 16. Best Practices of QR Have a Backup Plan There are a number of factors that can interfere with scanning your QR code: broken cameras, no cell reception, low battery, no smartphone, or any number of other technical complications. Provide consumers with alternative methods to view your mobile content through short URLs they can manually input to a browser or a shortcode that can be sent via SMS. By making things easy for as many people as possible you’ll be maximizing the number of exposures to your mobile content.Wednesday, June 29, 2011
  • 17. Best Practices of QR Test, Test, Test!!! All the planning in the world means nothing if your campaign doesn’t execute properly. Test your QR code using multiple decoders, both online and with multiple phones. Make sure to test the QR code once it has been printed on the material to be used for the marketing collateral. Scanning a QR code on a monitor can provide very different results than scanning it on paper. Do as much as possible to replicate the factors that will be encountered by those who scan your code.Wednesday, June 29, 2011
  • 18. Best Practices of QR Examples of Poor ExecutionWednesday, June 29, 2011
  • 19. Best Practices of QR Poorly Executed QR Codes Quite possibly one of the worst QR code implementations we’ve ever seen, it fails nearly every test. Without the required proprietary reader, the barcode resolves to the message displayed on the right. Those who take the time to type in the URL find that the app will only work on iOS devices running version 4.0 and later. Without a clear call to action or any indication of what content may be on the other side of the scan, this code is a text-book lesson in what not to do.Wednesday, June 29, 2011
  • 20. Best Practices of QR Poorly Executed QR Codes QR Codes can be used to effectively augment existing printed material, however, stuffing a brochure full of them is going a bit far. Given the close proximity of each code there is an extremely frustrating user experience where scanning the intended code requires covering other barcodes with your hands and strategic placement of the phone’s camera. Scanning QR codes should not be a chore. Verizon’s “interactive” rate plan guideWednesday, June 29, 2011
  • 21. Best Practices of QR Poorly Executed QR Codes Hailed as a first in both Nascar and QR history, Tissot placed a QR code on the hood of Danica Patrick’s Chevy pace car. There are a few problems inherent in this design: • Scanning a moving object is difficult • Most fans in the stands will never get close enough to scan the barcode • Unless the camera closes in on Danica’s car with an unobscured view of the code for lengthy periods of time, television viewers will be unable to scan the barcode New and novel is only good when it’s also effective.Wednesday, June 29, 2011
  • 22. Best Practices of QR Poorly Executed QR Codes While the QR Code resolves to a mobilzed website, the content is less than exciting, giving way to the “Climate change and energy supply” section of Seimens mobile website. The navigation within the site is also confusing at times leading to a frustrating overall experience. Give consumers a reason to scan, browse, and share your mobile content. In a perfect world, consumers should want to revisit your mobile properties.Wednesday, June 29, 2011
  • 23. Best Practices of QR Examples of Effective QR CodesWednesday, June 29, 2011
  • 24. Best Practices of QR Effective QR codes Dick’s Sporting Goods launched their mobile ecommerce site via a QR code on the worlds largest HDTV at the Cowboy’s stadium in September of 2009. At 25,000 square feet it was hard to miss. The announcer instructed sports fans to scan the code with QR code readers to redeem a special offer, while those without smart phones were given the option to receive the offer by visiting or emailing a photo of the jumbotron to Those who scanned the code or fired up their mobile were treated to a mobile specific website for Dick’s Sporting Goods. Highlights: Excellent placement Multiple calls to action (visual and audible) Mobile optimized content Multiple avenues for engagementWednesday, June 29, 2011
  • 25. Best Practices of QR Effective QR codes Leo Burnett Hong Kong turned Zoo Music’s guerilla marketing campaign into an all-out urban scavenger hunt with some of the most engaging and novel experiences to be associated with a QR code. From the creative QR images superimposed over animals to the collectable nature of the mobile content Zoo Music’s campaign is a shining example of what a QR campaign can be. Highlights: Clear and creative call to action Highly engaging experience Collectable content Mobile optimized website and media For more info check out, June 29, 2011
  • 26. Best Practices of QR Effective QR codes Macy’s scored big with their QR campaign for Bobbi Brown’s Backstage Pass, From the intriguing branded QR code to the exclusively mobile content, this campaign was excellently engineered from every angle. Macy’s primed their content for sharing on social networks by delivering lots of value to women who scanned the code and gave visitors easy access to sharing tools via their mobile site, ensuring further spread of their mobile content. Highlights: Custom branded QR code Valuable mobile exclusive content Easy access to social networks for sharing Content informs future behavior for in store mobile promotionsWednesday, June 29, 2011
  • 27. Best Practices of QR Effective QR codes Olympus took advantage of the unoccupied time of metro travelers by providing a QR enhanced billboard on subway platforms throughout London. WIth a clear call to action and mobile optimized content Olympus gave those waiting for the next train an entertaining and engaging way to spend their time while increasing brand affinity. Highlights: Effective placement ensured high scan rates Mobile optimized content provides entertainment and product education Olympus Mobile Site Outdoor ad for Olympus PenWednesday, June 29, 2011
  • 28. Best Practices of QR Effective QR codes Another well-designed QR campaign, this example combines multiple avenues to experience the mobile content, clear call to action, and a promise of high value to be delivered by scanning the codes. Highlights: Mobile exclusive content from Martha Stewart Newspaper ad for Martha Steward @ Home Depot brand Multiple ways to experience mobile content Clear call to action Consumer education on scanning codes Martha @ Home Depot Mobile SiteWednesday, June 29, 2011
  • 29. Thanks for Reading! Thank you! Hopefully this presentation has been informative and will help in planning your future QR campaigns.Wednesday, June 29, 2011
  • 30. Best Practices of QR About the Author Ian Beacraft is a Mobile and Digital Strategist at His passion for all things mobile began four years ago after seeing his first QR code. Since then he has relentlessly explored many channels of mobile including mobile web, prototyping, app design, tagging, QR codes, augmented reality, and pretty much anything else with the word mobile attached to it. You can connect with him by scanning the QR code below! Okay, so it breaks the mobilized content rule. Whoops!Wednesday, June 29, 2011