As I look around at the many advertisements that surround us, I have noticed more and more crazy little barcodes as part of the advertisement. These barcode images resemble a square-like maze. What are these codes? These are called EZcodes or QR (Quick Response) codes. They are a two-dimensional barcode created and designed to be scanned horizontally or vertically by smartphone cameras. When you scan these images, a video will play, a webpage will load, a mobile app will download or a map and directions will display. Your phone utilizes an app that may be preloaded or one you can find in your marketplace. Most of them can be downloaded at no cost. When these codes are scanned by your smartphone, the app decodes the image on the device and uploads the code index to a server, which is sent back to a database and the returns the listed command and data back to the phone, taking just a short period of time. To do this, you must be able to connect to the web though your device. These codes do not have to be just black and white. They can be artistic or with pictures overlaid on the barcode.
There are many benefits of companies using these EZcodes in their advertisements. A small camera is enough to encode an arbitrarily large URL or command, due to the database lookup. The code can remain the same no matter the amount of information associated with it. Once the barcode is created, it can be printed on almost any surface; they show up in newspaper, TV adds, billboards, temporary tattoos, cake frosting, product packaging, clothing, etc. Another benefit is that after the barcode is created, content can be tweaked or updated.
Best Buy uses these QR codes on in-store price tags for quick access to online reviews. Golf Digest uses it in their magazines and will link the reader to golfing tips and interactive videos. Real Estate Agents are also using them on “For Sale” signs to give prospective buyers a virtual tour of the home. Also, these codes can be added to a business card and when the information is scanned by another phone, it is automatically loaded into the person’s contact list. Some of these codes also offer geolocation features for local price comparison shopping.
The QRcodes are not just for business use. People are making a QRcode for information about themselves. It could link you straight to a Facebook page or any other social media site they may have. Some are wearing their personalized QRcodes on shirts. Personal usage of QRcodes is free.
To run a 2-D barcode campaign, one option is to go to Scanlife.com and create an account. When using the QRcode in advertisements, you need to reward the user. When so many people are moving over to the smartphone, not all users are educated on how to easily maneuver through the process of scanning the barcode. They need to have a benefit at the end. Reward them with a discount, exclusive content or useful tips about the product. Give the consumer simple directions on how to scan the EZcode. For example:
1. Download reader app.
2. Scan code with mobile device.
3. Tell them a little of what will happen after scanning the QRcode.
When running a QRcode campaign, the company should also provide a hyperlink or SMS option for users to enable non-smartphone users to also participate.
A popular company maintaining the codes is Scanbuy. They are able to offer free scanner software programs for the end user because of the income from the businesses paying for the EZcodes. This company can be seen at scanlife.com. With Scanlife, you can create your code and then manage it. Through Scanlife you can know exactly how your code is performing. They will let you know the number of scans, number of unique users, time and date, location, type of phone and representative demographics. The data is constantly updated and available whenever you want it.
Next time you are shopping or looking for the next best deal, try this feature out on your smartphone. It is simple and only takes a few seconds to do. Also, when printing out your next set of business cards, include your own QRcode. People will then have your name on hand whenever or wherever they are. FBN
Written By Kathleen Callander of Niles Radio.
1602 N. East St. Flagstaff, Arizona 86004