I’ve long held the notion that mall kiosks are where beloved ideas go to die. Scan the floor of the mall and you can still sometimes find those squint-inducing Magic Eye posters (I swear I can see it, it’s a cat, right?!), hermit crabs, and any number of things that were popular in 1992. I knew QR codes were truly dead when I came across one of these kiosks peddling QR code t-shirts. I mean, really??
If you’ve been hiding under a bush for the last several years, you still might not know what a QR code is. Quick Response codes are those square, bar code-y looking things that have been popping up all over magazines, newspapers, TV ads, and just about anywhere else marketing folks can slap em. A big hit in Japan, these neat little codes can zap information such as coupons, product or business details, advertisements, and more straight to your mobile phone after a quick scan with your phone’s camera.
At arm’s length, these seem like an ingenious little idea to get more information to your audience quickly. But the reality is that these neat little codes that were touted as the next great thing in advertising are already on their way out.
comScore recently did a study that showed only 14 million American mobile device users have interacted with a QR code. That’s less than 5% of the country’s population! Another indication that QR codes are on the outs is the fact that internet behemoth Google phased out support for QR codes from Google Places last year. Additionally, QR codes are an easy way for criminals to launch a number of stealthy cyber-attacks, from fake websites designed to steal your information, to launching harmful apps.
So if QR codes are dying, if not already DOA, what’s going to replace them? There are a couple front-runners, such as mobile visual search (MVS), and near-field communication (NFC). With MVS, you can use your phone to snap a picture of a product or logo and instantly get the same information delivered straight to your phone that a QR code could provide. NFC chips will allow you to simply hold your phone up near a sign that contains the chip and get similar results. Safer and easier to use, these types of programs are already miles ahead of the poor, doomed QR code.
But hey, if you’re the nostalgic type, by all means, keep putting those QR codes into your advertising. It’ll make you look as old school as a Hypercolor sweatshirt.
Sr. Marketing Executive, Soffront Software Inc.