QR Codes Finding the Right Frequency
QR or “quick response” barcodes are black modules arranged in a square design on a white background. They may look like modern art, but scan them with your phone, a QR-specific scanner, or anything with a camera and web access, and the 2D barcode will provide information such as a text message, website, or app. Shoppers can use QR barcodes to compare prices, locate product reviews and create wish lists.
There are quite a few different kinds of 2D barcodes currently in use, but most are cross-compatible with the scanning technology. We mentioned QR codes earlier this year on our blog, and while it had just started to make an appearance in the U.S. at the beginning of the year, (QR codes started off in Japan in the ‘90s) it seems to have caught on fast. Traffic generated from scans has climbed 700% since January 2010, according to a Scanbuy report. TechCrucnh reported that the QR-scanning iPhone app RedLaser topped five million downloads in October.
The enormous rise of frequency of QR codes is a bit surprising since people must own a smartphone in order to access them. According to the American Mobile Marketing Association, only 25 to 33% of the U.S. population currently owns one. However, even people without smartphones are starting to recognize QR codes, making companies that wield them at least seem technically savvy.
The question still remains of where QR codes work best. They’ve been used online, in print, outdoor signs and billboards, retail stores, and broadcast. Amazon, eBay, and Google Product Search have all added QR scanning capabilities to their iPhone apps.
The New York Times reported how Colorado-based FirstBank offered a free download in October of an e-book to passengers scanning the bar code on posters mounted in terminal corridors at Denver International Airport.
FOX, the Weather Channel, and other TV broadcasters have displayed QR codes during a show’s broadcast to direct people to the show’s website or app. TV commercials are still very relevant for a broad audience, and while many people may not have their phone at the ready to scan their TV (although you can now use your iPhone as a remote control), this kind of exposure will quicken education on what QR codes are and what they do.
There are also interesting ways to use the QR codes themselves. The New York Daily News started to use branded QR codes this past week, featuring the Daily News' camera logo. One company, Webbmedia Group, launched an Ultimate QR game at the Online News Association conference last month. The group hid QR codes all over the conference – in planters, bathrooms, even in PowerPoint presentations.
As public awareness grows, and as more people purchase smartphones, these little squares will find many different uses, not just as a cool shorthand for your company’s website.