Wednesday, October 13, 2010

An Introduction to QR codes

What are QR codes?

QR (Quick Response) codes are similar to bar codes, but they are two dimensional and therefore these codes can hold a lot more information than a standard barcode found on many products (up to 10 numerical digits).

QR Codes allow everyday items to become a website (print to mobile to web messaging), a QR code can be used to store information such as text, URLs or any other data. If the QR code is being used to store numerical data only 7089 digits can be stored. For alphanumeric data up to 4296 characters can be stored.

QR codes can be used anywhere that printed material may exist (magazines, signs, webpages etc.) as a convenience way of allowing users to access some information without having to type any text, all the user needs to do is scan the QR code with their device and the QR code will be decoded and acted upon based on its content.

Who is using them?

QR codes have been around for some time now, a few examples of QR codes being used in Marketing can be found over at a Mashable Blog post (Jan 09).

Currently the majority of QR codes are used to provide a “tell me more” function with the QR code appearing on albums, posters etc. which when scanned take the user to a URL which provides more information about product.

But the codes can be used for E-ticketing applications. In this case a code can be generated and sent to a mobile phone, when the owner of the mobile phone arrives the QR code is scanned and then marked as used so it cannot be re-used. This reduces the requirement to print and post actual tickets and if the recipient loses their code they can just request a new one via text or email.

Coca-Cola have been using QR codes to allow Japanese customers to collect loyalty points for free drinks.

The Flashlight Search Marketing Team at Rocktime report, that they have seen QR codes used on a number of offline items including:

Business Cards
Art and Tatoos
Fashion Items

The most exciting campaign they (Flashlight) have seen (to date) using QR codes was back in August 2010, where a Russian mobile provider MTS launched a digital campaign inviting consumers to play a weekly adventure game using their smartphone in order to win a prize, see above picture and read more about it over at the Brand Republic website.

Even Facebook has its own QR Code community, full of interesting oddities, ideas and discussion.

How to activate a QR code?

Many modern phones now come with a QR code reader installed as standard, these include Android phones, Nokia phones running S60 3rd Edition or newer and Blackberry’s with Messenger 5.0 or newer.

There are a number of free QR code reading apps available for both iPhones and Android Phones. These can be obtained via the iTunes App Store and the Android Market. These apps allow the user to scan the QR code and perform an action based on their content.

Android: Scanner often installed as standard.
iPhone: Apps available via the iTunes App Store.
Blackberry: Scan a group barcode option in the BBM menu.
Nokia Symbian: Has a barcode scanner which can read QR codes.
Nokia Maemo: Uses “mbarcode” to read QR codes.

Rocktime and QR codes

We can produce the codes and then our clients can print them somewhere, we can then provide statistics about the number of times the QR code was used within the clients content management system.

If you need any help or inspiration in using QR codes in your business.

Contact us

Author: Andy Edwards (Ed)


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