QR Codes for Advertisers: Creative & Interactive or Old News & Useless? // by Maya Kosover


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Somebody in the advertising business recently handed me his card with a fairly large QR code on the front.

I wandered around the office, trying to get somebody to scan it for me to see where it led – probably a LinkedIn page, or maybe an About Me site. Unfortunately, nobody in the office had a QR scanner and the thing remained a mystery.

“I didn’t know people still used QR codes,” I said.

“Well, maybe not in my generation, but I think the younger generations do,” a colleague responded.

And this opened the debate in the office – does anybody, in fact, use QR codes? Should advertisers use QR codes to track activity? To encourage interaction? To seem hip and cool?

I began to research the question and did what anyone would do in my position: I Googled it.

No need to go into much depth, here was a summary of my findings:

  1. QR Codes: Are They Dead Yet? – LinkedIn, 2013
  2. How To Use QR Codes in Advertising (Hint: Don’t) – The Idea Brand, 2013
  3. The Death of the QR Code – Marketing Land, 2013
  4. Why QR Codes Don’t Work – Forbes, 2012
  5. 9 Reasons QR Codes are Bad for Your Brand – Social Media Today, 2013
  6. QR Codes Are Dead, Toppled by Easy-to-Use Apps – Digital Next, 2013
  7. How QR Codes Work and Why They Suck So Hard – Gizmodo, 2012
  8. Should you be designing with QR Codes? – Design Shack, 2013

There was even a book written on it by social media guru Scott Stratten, QR Codes Kill Kittens: How to Alienate Customers, Dishearten Employees, and Drive Your Business into the Ground. His main point? “QR codes aren’t inherently bad, but the biggest problem is that only a small portion of consumers know what they are, has the ability and knowledge to use them, and, most importantly, actually does scan them.”

This short list wasn’t very difficult to compile, and it surely ended the office debate pretty quickly. So the next time you have a client suggesting QR codes to “step out of the box” or “be ahead of the competition,” feel free to hand them this list.

If that isn’t convincing enough, you can always show them this.



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