Have you ever seen those black and white squares that look like some sort of hot new cryptic word game? Maybe you saw one on an ad as you flipped through a magazine or even plastered to a store front right next to the archaic www.somestore.com address? If you have seen one of these squares, you have seen the future of advertising.
Anyone with elementary marketing knowledge knows that “impressions” are the best method to quantify the reach of your ads. Over the years, an advertiser knows that X number of impressions will result in the consumer taking action. The advent of the internet has made measuring ad effectiveness tangible in cyber space. Impressions can be measured and so can actions or “clicks.” On the art vs. science sliding scale, web ads can move much more towards the “science” side than traditional media advertising. A problem still existed with print media where measuring impressions was still standard operating procedure and effective print advertising was still hugging the “art” side of our sliding scale. Enter QR code.QR (quick response) code is a two dimensional version of the familiar bar codes that you see on the box of any product you purchase. QR codes can hold much more data than traditional bar codes. QR codes are written in “open source” code, meaning that the people that developed this technology essentially gave it to the world to create, use and enjoy all for free. You can web search for “QR code generator” and create your own codes for free. I went from not knowing anything to creating the code above for wealthsavant.com in literally 3 seconds at this site. I even tested out to make sure it pointed to my website because it was so easy!
The end user will have to have a QR code reader application downloaded in their phone to experience the QR code. The QR reader views the code through the phone’s camera and then takes off to fetch whatever the code instructed it to grab. With the accelerated adoption of smart phones, QR codes can turn “brand impressions into an interactive exchange in under 10 seconds,” says Patrick Donnelly, Founder and CEO of QR Arts, a strategic branding consulting firm.
I first met Patrick in graduate school as we were both earning our MBAs from The George Washington University School of Business. Patrick’s creative spin always stood out from the rest of the group so it should be of no surprise that his custom QR codes stand out from your typical black and white codes as well.
QR Arts takes the auto-generated QR code from a generator and adds artistic design as suitable for hanging in the Louvre as it is for what it actually is – practical heavy-hitting marketing tool. If you look at a piece of print media in a magazine you will most likely enjoy what you are looking at. The size, shape, font, colors, contrasts, photos are as much a part of the ad as the message written. Companies pay big bucks to graphic designers to create these ads. It is not a stretch then to imagine why they would also pay a company like QR Arts to come in and make their QR code as pleasing to look at as the rest of the ad. Patrick has made the media rounds discussing his innovative approch to QR. See him on CNN here. I’ve included a couple of my favorite QR Arts designs a the bottom of this post.
Donnelly is noticeably excited when describing the possibilities for all businesses when employing this new technology. “How can you afford to not have your calls to action enabled for interactivity and metrics,” the mobile engagement strategist said. He is right. For the first time, an advertiser’s print ads can be mathematically logged, counted and entered into a data analysis program. The resulting output can be used to better target print ads and move the practice towards the “science” side of that previously mentioned continuum. Ultimately, producing results and a better ROI on your company’s advertising dollars.
A practical application for QR codes may be to have one created for your business card detailing all of your contact information. A client can scan and load all of your information into their smart phone without having to navigate and type everything. A user can download a video of your company or product directly from your print ad in less than 10 seconds – effectively bringing your print advertising to life immediately. A customer can be enjoying your product at a restaurant or shopping at a grocery store and scan your QR code to see a commercial for your product instantly. I can see realtors using QR codes at empty houses that are for sale instead of those paper flyers that usually end up on the ground and blowing around the neighborhood.
The possibilities are limited only by the imagination of the advertiser or entrepreneur. QR codes are a technology that every company should be leveraging and using as creatively as they can. Download the reader to your smartphone and head out looking for the little squares. If you have your own company, you need to be employing this technology and doing it now. When you are ready for the next level with your print ads, you need to contact Patrick Donnelly at QR Arts and have him put some style into your ads! Patrick can be followed through his Twitter feed at @qrarts or through his website: qrarts.com.
From the portfolio of QR Arts: