QR Codes: Is it time?

qrcodeThis week, Educause released a PDF article about QR Codes. What are these codes? Here’s a snip from the article:

QR codes are two-dimensional bar codes that can contain any alphanumeric text and that often feature URLs that direct users to sites where they can learn about an object or place (a practice known as “mobile tagging”). Decoding software on tools such as camera phones interprets the codes, which are increasingly found in places such as product labels, billboards, and buildings, inviting passers-by to pull out their mobile phones and uncover the encoded information.

These codes, popular in Japan, allow users to use a device, most often their cell phone camera, at a QR Code and be given information, such as a URL to visit or some other information.

While the article deals with the pedagogical uses or these codes, I think there are many possible uses on the marketing side as well.

I think it will eventually be a great resource for prospective students. For example, lets say that tomorrow we send them a postcard telling them the due date for applications is coming up. On that postcard, you include text and a URL for your online application urging them to apply. It requires the user to enter in the address manually.

In the future, perhaps we will send students a postcard urging them to apply with a QR or other 2d barcode image on it. They point their phone or mobile device at it (or hold it up to the camera in their netbook) and they are instantly taken to your application. In fact, I’ve mocked up a sample to show you what that could look like. 2 caveats: I’m not a graphic designer in any sense and the picture is from Selwyn College in Cambridge.

QR Code Example

Click for a larger version.

If you’re tracking your conversions closely, you should know these URLs can contain all sorts of analytics data, so you would be able to get very reliable information about response rates, perhaps better then using other redirect techniques.

While the technology is ready for use today, you may not be at a point where it would make sense to introduce these types of codes. When I think about where mobile technology will be in two years, I think there will be demand for it. Today’s 14-year-olds will be starting their college searches before you know it.

Online, free QR Code Generator
2D Sense, iPhone app that will read QR Codes

6 thoughts on “QR Codes: Is it time?”

  1. Thanks for posting this.
    I remembered seeing an article about QR codes, but couldn’t find it.

    Actually, I stumbled upon a great example yesterday (and will probably blog about it later) from the University of South Australia that uses them on its admissions brochure: http://www.unisa.edu.au/virtual/qr/default.asp

    They have even a short YouTube video to demonstrate how it works.

  2. It’s great to see more and more news showing up in regards to 2D Barcodes and QR Codes in general.

    Keep up the good work!

    The only problem with the example of University of South Australia is that it links to a standard website. To really get a satisfying user experience the landing page should be mobile too. A standard website is just too inconvenient to browse and look at on your mobile phone – besides the fact, that it usually takes longer to load.

    If you are interested in the field of 2D Barcodes, check out our site http://www.snappr.net where you can create, maintain your mobile content and print corresponding codes on shirts etc. hope you like it!


  3. Get writing I believe QR codes will be a heavy marketing tool for our future. I been playing around with them for months now and would love for them to hit main stream in the U.S I use http://www.beqrious.com/ to generate my codes because I can save them in a PDF file from that site, helps me when I want to print posters!


  4. Microsoft has also launched their 2D barcode sytem called “Microsoft Tag”… This system is even better and more direct than the QRCode, DataMatrix, Semacode etc… By simply reading the tag with your mobile device, it automatically connects to the site with more info on the given product, place, or information.
    The tag that Microsoft is in development now, is also fully customizable, so a picture can act like the tag.
    I see a lot of potential in this system that Microsoft is making, because it’s build on a new type of tag, called:
    High Capacity Color Barcode (HCCB).

    For more info on this go to:
    http://www.microsoft.com/tag – Official Site

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_Capacity_Color_Barcode – Wiki on HCCB

    http://www.istartedsomething.com/20090108/microsoft-tag-microsofts-own-2d-barcode – Quick Introduction

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