QR Codes: Are their Days Numbered?

While QR codes remain a widely used, relatively inexpensive medium in mobile marketing, many believe that the technology’ s days are numbered. In an article posted on PR Daily, Matt Wilson (2013), writes that while QR codes often get a bad rap, they still have a place in the marketer’s toolbox. He cites Linda Pophal of Strategic Communications, who notes that “QR codes have earned a less-than-sterling reputation because they’re often used in ways that don’t connect. Most of the ineffective uses of the technology have been aimed more toward doing something new than doing something effective.”

This view is in contrast with that of B.L. Ochman, an online marketing strategist. In an AdAge article, she writes that QR codes are history, soon to be replaced with new, innovative technologies “Invisible ink and augmented-reality apps are replacing the clunky codes,” she writes. “With the new apps, you just run your smartphone over the content and get the enhanced features immediately.”

In spite of their disparate views on the future of QR codes, both Pophal and Ochman caution organizations to avoid falling into the same traps as those that hinder QR codes.   Pophal says “All of these new options will similarly fail if their applications are not well aligned with objectives and audiences.”

Ochman suggests heeding the lessons learned from QR, including:

  • Making it easy for consumers to use.
  • Explaining how it works, in clear, concise language.
  • Employing it only when it can add something unique to the user experience.
  • Making sure content or ads that contain it won’t be put in places where cellphone service is unavailable.
  • Making the apps available only for situations when using them makes sense.