Some marketers are calling 2011 “The Year of the QR Code”, predicting that mobile tagging will become mainstream. Those little black and white tags are popping up everywhere: in billboards, magazine ads, and even tombstones.
QR (or quick response) codes carry the potential of connecting the offline world to the online world, giving a call to action to just about anything. And they use technology that is now in everyone’s pockets.
Yet, as with any new technology, QR codes are merely a means to an end for marketers. They are enablers to big ideas. They aren’t the big ideas themselves. Some brands are merely riding the novelty of QR codes, rather than doing anything interesting with them. Brands need to give a reason for consumers to go through the trouble of scanning a mobile tag and exploring whatever destination the brand has in mind.
I like how New York City’s Central Park created a rich experience with QR code tagging. The following video clip shows how they linked famous TV show and movie footage to the very spot where watchers are standing (“Walk the Mall with Carrie Bradshaw”).
Any call to action has to be meaningful to the consumers, not just to the brand. It may be easier than ever to give consumers an extended brand experience. But it’s also easier than ever for consumers to ignore you.
(Oh, in case you’re curious, the QR code in this cartoon is actually a live link back to this post. I’m interested to see if anyone who reads my cartoons in magazines uses it to find their way here).