At some of the technology networking groups that I frequent, every other new person I meet seems to be pushing QR codes as the “next big thing” in tech. Frankly, I just don’t see what the big deal is. I even had one QR enthusiast suggest that BarCamp Sarasota should have put one big QR code on the back of their t-shirts that were given to attendees rather than the sponsor logos. The idea is that instead of having a static display of sponsors, people could scan the QR code and be taken to an online interactive list of sponsors with links back to their websites for a higher level of engagement. What that person was forgetting, however, was that part of the value of being a sponsor is brand exposure. People can see their logo on the shirt, or the sign, or the banner, without having to do anything at all. If people were at BarCamp there’s a good chance they’ve been to the website where we also have all of the sponsors listed with links back to their websites. The online schedule (optimized for mobile displays) that I created also had a list of sponsors with links to serve that purpose. Adding a QR code in this particular instance would have added a roadblock to brand exposure rather than helping it.
I could go on and on about other examples of “revolutionary” suggested uses of QR codes that just don’t excite me, or make any sense at all in some cases. Sean X Cummings wrote up an article called Why the QR code is Failing which is worth a read for anyone even remotely interested in the technology and its uses in marketing and advertising. He makes a lot of great points and even makes some suggestions about ways that QR codes CAN be used in ways that would make more sense to drive engagement with an ad and support a purpose rather than just being there for the sake or being there.
Perhaps one day I will see a campaign using QR codes that makes me raise an eyebrow, but I haven’t seen it yet.