Weighing the Facts: Is QR Code Marketing Worthwhile?
Featured in MediaPost, authored by Sakina Walsh.
You don't have to tech-savvy to be at the center of mass QR-code exposure. The speckled squares of black-and-white can be spotted on cereal boxes, at the airport, and in your favorite magazine. But while marketers have been quick to adopt QR codes as their newest playthings, critics have been just as quick to point out their shortcomings.
With big questions about ROI already top-of-mind, Forrester Research's 2011 announcement that only about 5% of U.S. mobile users have actually scanned a QR code left many questioning its reach. Limiting the audience further, comScore revealed data indicating this already small subset of adopters also skewed toward younger, more affluent males.
All of this led to the well-publicized voice of naysayers claiming QR codes are over-hyped, too limited in their applicability, and poorly executed. It is true that 2011 saw its fair share of challenges with quick-response technology: some marketers placed the codes in locations that didn't have mobile connectivity (such as Red Bull's ads in New York subways); others, such as Continental Airlines, linked to sites that weren't optimized for mobile devices (oops). Still others created QR codes containing broken links or shoddy placement, making them impossible to scan (big oops).
What critics are missing, however, is this: QR codes must be seen as an emerging technology, not a mainstream marketing channel, replete with standard KPIs and ROI expectations. Businesses should view this opportunity much like the first companies to venture from brick-and-mortar selling to e-commerce: at first, the audience was limited, the technology was bumpy, and the best practices were unknown. But so were the possibilities.
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