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Marketing Mojo: The Future of QR Codes

A few years ago, QR codes were being touted as part of the future of mobile marketing technology. More versatile and universal than a barcode, capable of containing a web link or contact information.  QR and its contemporaries, like NFC codes and other augmented reality technology, saw a brief surge in popularity and then just as quickly seemed to fall out of fashion.
The reason for this, according to Mobile Marketer, was that QR codes were "unattractive and not useful for either consumers or marketers".
"QR codes were heavily hyped and never realized their promise due to such tangible things including a lack of bar code scanning standardization, disinterest by many creatives in employing such an unimaginative image, a lack of agreed-upon business rules and frankly the availability of many other ways to engage a mobile user," Jeff Hasen, mobile strategist at Possible Mobile, told Mobile Marketer.
In the article linked above, the site claims that the technology is seeing something of a resurgence, thanks to apps and sites like Snapchat, Facebook and Spotify, who have used QR codes to great effect in recent marketing campaigns.
So what has changed?  Better exposure, smarter uses, better integration, and standardization, according to Mobile Marketer.
A lack of standardization was also an issue with QR codes in the past, making it hard for marketers to create consistent experiences. This is starting to be addressed, which could make the space even more attractive to brands in the future.
"Even the standardization of codes and scanners issue has improved," Hasen said. "Mastercard and Visa, among others, are launching standardized QR codes for e-payments In Thailand. If we see adoption there, expect to see expansion elsewhere."
My personal favorite example of effective use of QR codes in marketing - Macy's "Backstage Pass" campaign from 2014.  Macy's used the pixelated pattern of the QR codes as the background for their iconic star, isolating the code while still making it feel like part of the design, instead of something awkwardly tacked on.
Just last week, I actually got to see first hand how QR codes are being used to facilitate mobile integration when I used a mobile boarding pass on my flight back to Indianapolis.  I was able to check in to my flight the night before, send the boarding pass to my smartphone and avoid waiting in a line at the ticket counter or kiosk to print a boarding pass before making my way to the gate.
What does this mean for us in the marketing industry?  It's up to us to decide how QR technology evolves by the way we utilize it.  QR codes are still clunky boxes of square pixels, but that doesn't mean they have to be an eyesore, and with more and more websites designed to be mobile-friendly, there is no reason to be afraid of using them to drive traffic to a website or link - as long as you're doing it responsibly!
At AlphaGraphics Carmel, we offer QR Code Marketing as an option for your business and will help with any QR Code integrations and questions you may have!

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