How to tell if your QR code is stupid

by Carl Natale on July 8, 2011

QR Code for smart ass

QR code for deja vu all over again.

I know I said that QR codes are stupid. But I never declared a death sentence for the “those square, mobile barcodes.”

That would be Dan Frommer on His argument is based upon two parts.

First, the process is cumbersome and probably non-intuitive.

Second, there are smarter, easier technologies that will make QR codes look so 2010.

And he sums up the whole complaint thus:

“Big picture: Yes, obviously, barcodes have a place in the world. They are simple and cheap for commerce and logistics, and barcodes are widespread. There are cool consumer experiments where people use QR mobile barcodes for shopping in virtual supermarkets in Korean subway stations. And for now, they seem to be a novelty for some U.S. advertisers. But as far as the future of advertising goes, particularly in the U.S., it’s hard to see them really taking off. Their utility hasn’t yet made up for their awkwardness.

I agree with half that last sentence (which I emphasized). I don’t think using QR codes is as awkward as Frommer details. But marketers are not putting enough utility into QR code destinations. What kind of utility? Mitch Joel  nails it when he talks about how QR codes are failing to help mobile users:

“Mobile – in and of itself – is a unique experience, so if you can’t take the time to creatively think about how a QR code component to your campaign can really be something special for those who walk the extra mile with your brand – especially taking into account where they are when they access it – you may as well drop it from your marketing mix.”

Joel’s post is a must read for anyone who wonders what they should do about mobile.

Related Posts on QR Codes

I have more on what you need to consider when creating QR codes for your business:

  1. How to use QR codes to tell a story
  2. Why Google Places isn’t a smart use of QR codes
  3. Why I’m bored with QR codes already
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