QR codes in the mainstream

07 December 2011
Bartek Szafko
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Scan this QR code to go to cognifide.com
A Quick Response (QR) code is basically a 2 dimensional  barcode with encoded text. The code can be easily scanned with any phone equipped with a camera and the proper software. Based on the scanned code the application can perform actions. In the case when the code contains a URL address the page is opened in a mobile browser.

The code can be printed on almost any physical object: a bottle of milk, a poster, t-shirt and also shown on televison during commercials.

QR codes were first used in Japan and Korea but are also gaining traction in Europe and United States. According to comScore in June 2011 alone 14 million Americans scanned QR codes on their mobile phones. Mobile bar code usage will increasingly grow with the adoption of smartphone devices.

More engaging mobile campaigns

We see QR codes appear across multiple campaigns

  • posters and billboards with links to more exclusive materials or coupons with rebates
  • sidewalk stickers with references to directions
  • television commercials that allow user to continue watching an extended web version on youtube
  • e-commerce billboards that allow customers to buy goods by just pointing and clicking their smartphone
  • magazines and newspapers, which according to latest research are the most popular, with nearly half scanning QR codes from this source

The idea behind QR code usage  is that the user can immediately interact with a campaign or brand without having to remember a complicated web address.

Technical aspects

QR equipped campaigns have to be properly executed to achieve best results. A mobile optimized site is critical. The medium on which the qr code is placed matters a lot, as well as location context. Also in the case of tv commercials the QR code has to be visible for significant amount of time. QR codes have to be constructed to allow tracking and to differentiate between users coming from different physical objects.

The longer the data in the QR code the denser the resulting image, so using a URL shortening service is essential. The urls contained in QR should be permanent links as we don’t want to turn down users with a page not found error.

There is, however, an entry barrier as most of the phones are not equipped with scanning software and users have to go to a store/market and download it.

Sitecore support for QR codes

Since acquisition of Pectora, Sitecore has a great QR code integration story. It works seamlessly across the whole application  and it’s as easy as point and click. With the help of  the QR Code module you can insert a QR code on any site by inserting a rendering and entering a campaign. It is also properly tracked in the analytics module.

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Images courtesy: http://www.sitecore.net