Technology

Are QR codes ready for mainstream adoption?

QR code in Today FM advertisement in the Irish Daily Mail (24/01/11)
QR code in Today FM advertisement in the Irish Daily Mail (24/01/11) ©Darren McCarra/The Sociable
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Although the editorial content of the Irish Daily Star isn’t particularly interesting in my opinion, one half-page advertisement on page fourteen of yesterday’s publication caught my attention. The advertisement contained nothing more than an image of one man’s bald head with a note saying “Warning: Coming to a head near you”, and cleverly a QR code placed neatly in the top-right-hand corner. So once again we ask the question – are QR codes popular enough to use in mainstream media?

QR code in Today FM advertisement in the Irish Daily Star (24/01/11)
QR code used in Today FM advertisement in the Irish Daily Star on January 24th, 2011

To those of you that may be unaware of QR codes, they’re essentially simple barcodes that can be scanned using smartphones and a QR code reader application. Most codes exist solely as links to websites where the user can gain further information about a product or service. They’re simple yet very effective.

We covered a similar article back in September 2010 when we asked whether QR codes had gone mainstream as a result of an album advertisement featuring Linkin Park that contained a QR code. We also documented their use during the popular augmented reality game Copān across Dublin towards the end of last year.

Scanning the QR code in the Irish Daily Star advertisement using an application like QuickMark for Android brings you to a Today FM countdown webpage promoting their Shave or Dye 2011 campaign. The entire advertisement experience from print to mobile browser provides a nice convergence between old and new technologies.

While I heartedly support the use of QR codes, I do have some reservations on how they are used in this instance. The advertisement featured would not work without the viewer having prior knowledge of what a QR code is and how to use it. The purpose of the advertisement, unless you were already aware of the Today FM campaign, is not immediately apparent, and instead is hidden behind the QR code. The advertisement may be more effective if the QR code existed as an accompaniment rather than a prerequisite to the ad experience itself.

So are QR codes ready for widespread mainstream adoption? We’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject.

25 Comments

  1. Nearly all smartphones released in Ireland have QR code reader apps available to them (rough guess of about 90%), so the infrastructure is there. So what’s the percentage of smartphones versus dumber handsets in Ireland? Either way, a substantial percentage of people have the means to read QR codes, but do they know how, or want to?

  2. QR codes will change the way we advertise or show online information to the people. Check out YouScan.me to make a social QR codes for your business or personal needs.

  3. We believe QR codes will go mainstream, due in large part to the big retailers use of them (e.g. Best Buy, Target, Lowe’s, etc.) JumpScan.com provdes the ability to create a custom, “all-in-one” QR code for either personal or business use.

  4. I just wrote an article about QrCodes and adoption yesterday, and whether it is an important question. Rather I would comment that it about having enough of the right people using mobile tagging solutions that contextually make sense and provide great content. I think the examples we show and critique should answer if Qr codes were used effectively, rather then talking about the technology in a worldly sense. My full commentary is here: http://qrarts.com/2011/01/qrcode-adoption-there-is-no-tipping-point/

    Patrick Donnelly, QrArts

  5. @garydubh The Loc8 app sounds very interesting. Will it be free or paid for? We could possible do a review on it.

  6. @garydubh The Loc8 app sounds very interesting. Will it be free or paid for? We could possible do a review on it.

  7. I wrote an article on QR Codes and the need to Track & Measure the results.

    Read it here: https://pixqr.com/s/4

    QR Codes are here whether we like it or not. I saw an “oldish” movie that had a part of the storyline,about the internet – the next big revolution and to invest in the mother of all search engines etc. They were just starting to use Mobile phones the size of bricks.

    Boy have we come a long way.

  8. I wrote an article on QR Codes and the need to Track & Measure the results.

    Read it here: https://pixqr.com/s/4

    QR Codes are here whether we like it or not. I saw an “oldish” movie that had a part of the storyline,about the internet – the next big revolution and to invest in the mother of all search engines etc. They were just starting to use Mobile phones the size of bricks.

    Boy have we come a long way.

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Darren McCarra
Darren McCarra is co-editor of The Sociable. He has a keen interest in photography, all things mobile, and writing about technology and social media. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.