How To Use QR Codes

It has been announced this week that Fox Searchlight is taking a different route to the norm in promoting its upcoming film ‘Martha Marcy May Marlene’. The film giants are instead in favour of an elaborate campaign of placing QR codes on advertising materials such as posters around Los Angeles and New York City. Scanning the codes will then take you to one of two trailers for the film.

Although the film will no doubt benefit from coverage of the unorthodox campaign as well as from the trailers themselves of course, this move begs the question – what next for QR codes?

You may well have noticed the increasing number of these black and white square codes containing instantly accessible information, and so it may not come as a surprise that worldwide QR code use more than quadrupled between 2009 and 2010 [Source: 3GVision].

At the moment, QR codes are commonly being used to directly provide contact information, access to websites, discount vouchers, maps, and even the instigation of phone calls. Further uses that are beginning to be utilised more include virtual business cards and e-ticketing. The range of places that the codes are being found in is also rapidly expanding, from expected locations such as product packaging, magazine and newspaper adverts and promotional materials, to Youtube videos, clothing and even buildings. So they can be placed almost anywhere and can link to almost anything that is accessible online using a smartphone, with locations and uses becoming ever more inventive.

The increasing number of smartphone users is only likely to increase the number of QR code scans that are occurring, but challenges exist for QR codes in the form of the ongoing development of alternatives and various other potentially major hurdles. In the short-term it is anticipated that QR codes will include greater brand integration in advertising, integration with video games and social networking and even the ability to purchase items or content up to a certain low value with just the scan of a code. Despite this, the question on the mind of many digital marketers is whether in the long-term we will see QR codes everywhere and on everything, or will they have become another forgotten addition to digital marketing’s back catalogue?

For now at least, they provide a track-able, customisable and effective instant shortcut from offline to online. It is this ability to make the offline world digitally interactive at the press of a button that could well see QR codes becoming a critical element of digital marketing campaigns alongside search engine optimisation and pay per click advertising.

Paul Jackson

Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

With almost a decade of experience in digital marketing, both in-house and agency-side, Paul is a CIM qualified Chartered Marketer with expertise and a refreshing approach. Paul’s experience with a diverse mix of brands in a wide range of industries has allowed him to see first-hand the importance of a tailored and business-oriented approach to marketing.