As with many other people I have been guilty of continually espousing the greatness of the QR Codes… soon they will replace meal times! err.. maybe not. However it is generally expected that their growth will continue and eventually it will be an expected part of any advert. In some magazines I now look through it has become the norm; there are far more adverts with QR Codes than without.
Therefore I was very surprised today to find an article on CNN entitled “Why QR Codes Aren’t Catching On.” My first reaction to this was that they were clearly mad, had they not seen the QR Code expanding onto everything from beer mats to volleyball kits? However after reading the article it was obvious that wasn’t the point. While the little box of pixels may now be everywhere its functionality is generally passing people by and I don’t just mean elderly people without smart phones. The research looked at college students, of whom 80% had smart phones and had previously seen a QR Code, and found that only 20% were able to successfully scan a QR Code.
Now this made me feel a little silly with my previous blogs claiming everyone now knew instinctively what they were expected to do with a QR Code allowing for a company to gain more tangible results from physical advertising. If those most surrounded and immersed in new technology, students, are failing to engage with QR Codes and generally letting it pass them by then what is the hope for reaching the rest of society. Many of the students were not even aware that a third party application was required on there phone to read the QR Codes.
Furthermore aside from ignorance of what QR Codes do many of those who were comfortable using them found the process for readinhg them unreliable and time consuming. In the age of instant gratification it is a big ask to try and get a consumer to spend even 20 seconds getting there phone out, selecting the application and then ensuring a correct read. It should be remembered that QR Codes require some level of correct positioning on a screen to gain a correct read; it is not simply a case of waving a camera at a billboard! This is made even worse by creative advertising agencies created coloured QR Codes or using the redundancy for corporate logos.
Although I do not believe that this is the death of QR Codes it is worth remembering that while the growth in use is rapid within advertising and media the growth of consumer use is somewhat lagging behind. Until barcode scanners software reaches a point where the reading of a QR Code is instant and possibly until the software is integrated with a mobile’s camera software completely there will always be limitations.
Do you think this is a real problem or simply growing pains of a new technology?
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