An Argument Against the Usefulness of QR Codes

I haven’t used one. Keep meaning to but then I just go on living my life. From MarketingProfs Mobile:

We’ve been talking about QR codes—those slightly out-of-focus, black-and-white squares—for several years now. “Conceptually, this is neat,” writes Alexis Madrigal at The Atlantic. “People who are looking at paper but connected to the Internet via their phones can combine the two in one seamless experience.” We see QR Codes everywhere—but do we use them? Not really.

According to comScore, 14 million people—a scant 6.2% of mobile users—scanned a QR code in June. Forrester research found an even slighter number of Americans—5%—use QR codes. And it’s a situation that’s unlikely to change. “[T]here is widespread confusion about how precisely these things are supposed to work,” he notes, “despite years of marketers telling us about them, even among tech-friendly groups like college students.”

One reason might be that there’s little incentive to figure them out. By the time you open the app that scans the QR code, wait for it to focus, and reach the desired content, you could have tapped a keyword into a browser and found an even broader base of information without the narrow focus of a marketing campaign.

This is why the QR code strikes Madrigal as an intermediate technology. “I think print magazine ads work and I think digital campaigns work,” he says. “But when I look at a QR code, I don’t see the future.”

2 thoughts

  1. Popping in to say QR codes might be tons more popular if a QR reader app was included on smartphones (presently no iPhone comes with a QR reader). Owners need to find and download an app for that.
    Once readers are built-in (and there is talk that they will be), these quick-read codes may become ubiquitous.

    And I think Madrigal is short-sighted.
    So many uses for QR codes that link print to long web addresses.
    Think of a Ducati print ad with a QR code: it could be used to link to a YT vid showcasing the bike in racing action. Or, a U2 (name your band) print ad linking to a free track download. These might be significant ways to market to your print-reading audience, who would otherwise skip keying-in a long web address.
    Anyway, I’m not counting QR codes out quite yet!


    • I hear you, Don. I totally agree that there needs to be an embedded reader. It just puts the work on the user’s side to want the info enough to do something about it. But I harken back to the Cue Cat days and we all know where that ended up.

Leave a Reply