What role do you see QR codes playing in marketing?


Those funny square codes seem to be popping up everywhere.

From the pages of USA Today as a hyper-link to news pictures, in the airport to download reading material after watching a bank advertisements, to on a billboard for getting a restaurant coupon.

They can be used to direct someone to a website, or download a complete vCard, send an SMS -- or open a special advertisement.

How will the growing adoption of the QR code impact your marketing and advertising?

Marketing Inbound Marketing Advertising

asked Mar 25 '11 at 08:45
Joseph Barisonzi
12,141 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll

5 Answers


I don't think QR codes will ever catch on in advertising sense. Most people really don't care about the ad THAT much. Also, the QR codes seem like they also have potential for exploit, its impossible for the consumer to have any idea of what exactly will happen when they interact with a QR code and their smart phone. The advertising/marketing industry has a nasty reputation of taking advantage of consumers (installing click tracking software and things of that nature). I just don't foresee consumers being all that excited by a square of what looks like digital noise.

answered Mar 27 '11 at 00:52
Brian Karas
3,407 points


While is is a year old -- a great visual representation of the comment Adam was making.

But a lot has changed since then. Here is a chart on the follow up of a QR advertisement campaign. According to the description:

Source: MGH, “QR Code Usage and
Interest Survey,” March 2011. Results
of an online survey to gauge awareness
and usage of QR codes among smartphone
users conducted in February 2011, with
415 smartphone users on the Vision
Critical Springboard America panel.
The margin of error is +/- 4.8%.

I am sure others have additional/better data. None of this discounts Adam's comment that advertising needs to match the target market. No need using a tool which is missed by the target market. (Kind of like that failed website selling buggy's and buggy making materials to the Amish. Ooops.)
answered Mar 26 '11 at 00:04
Joseph Barisonzi
12,141 points
  • Nothing against the Amish, mind you, but a funny, effective point... – Nicko 13 years ago
  • One of my favorite clients is the selling of Amish furniture online in a way that maintains full respect for the Amish and their way of doing business. Oh lordy the stories I could tell. – Joseph Barisonzi 13 years ago


As I see it, QR codes have value in that they profoundly reduce the friction in getting someone to visit your service, business, whatever. If some one is strolling through the airport or reading the newspaper on the train or otherwise being exposed to your advertising, they are probably less likely to go through the effort of typing in a URL than they are to snap a QR. Make it easier on them, and they are more likely to come.

One the other hand, while the smart phones that are required to take advantage of QR codes are increasingly common, they are far from ubiquitous. I myself am a confirmed dumb-phone user because I think that data plans are a horrifying waste of money. Practically, that means that you are selecting a particular segment of your potential market. That might be a good thing if you are specifically looking to attract a younger and more affluent group, technophiles and early-adopters.

On the other hand, if you are looking to attract a broader, more general audience, I would carefully consider the role that the QR code has in my marketing. Don't rely on it too much.

answered Mar 25 '11 at 23:27
Adam Crossland
297 points


Anybody remember Cuecat? I didn't think so.

answered Mar 26 '11 at 11:17
Doug Donohoe
401 points


I agree with Adam's observations. I've developed smartphone apps for all three major platforms, but I spend the most time dealing with how people (I was about to say users, and stopped myself) interact with phones, and I think a lot of people's response to a QR code would be "ick, what is that?" "Is that the code for the price or something?

The question I'd ask is "Can the QR code be utilized in a way that's contextually 'natural'? By this I mean, is it the kind of population that'd be used to using them?

Postscript 3/28/11:
Here's an article from today's CNN.com on the subject.

answered Mar 25 '11 at 23:54
840 points

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