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QR Codes: Like Web Links Everywhere!

Previously, I wrote about how to make print ads interactive using QR Codes. Depending on who you listen to, QR Codes are the next wave in advertising, or they are Internet’s equivalent of the pet rock.

QR Codes have been around since 1994, so why the sudden surge in usage? To answer that, you must go back to 2007, when Apple turned the cell phone industry on its head by introducing the iPhone. Today, over 40 percent of U.S. mobile phone users own an Android, iPhone, or Blackberry. Smartphones are outselling PCs and are expected to overtake feature phones next year. Once they do, they will be the highest-selling consumer electronic device category.

Having a mobile phone with all the power of a desktop computer in the palm of your hand it a game-changer—it has empowered consumers in ways Alexander Graham Bell could never have imagined. Many people use it in lieu of a laptop or desktop. In one study, 80 percent of respondents say they regularly use their cell phones while watching TV. This easy of portability is causing the mobile Internet to grow faster than the desktop Internet did. In fact, a Morgan Stanley study predicts that within the next five years “more users will connect to the Internet over mobile devices than desktop PCs.”

QR codes are a logical extension of this mobile Internet growth, because they are literally web hyperlinks that can be placed anywhere—from print ads to signage, store fronts, and vehicle sides. The vast majority (49.4 percent) of QR Codes are scanned from newspapers and magazines, while 23.5 percent come from posters or flyers.

The key to effectively using QR Codes is to give consumers a compelling reason to scan it. (A mobile version of your website is a prerequisite.) Most people do so to receive a special offer or discount, or to get additional information. Simply taking your reader to a website which repeats the same information they just saw in your print ad is probably not the best use of QR Code marketing.

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