Hyperlinks are the strength of the internet, the primary building block of the web that ties reference points to useful content. Without these semantic connections, the internet can hardly serve as a global marketplace. Generally, hyperlinks live in browser windows on computers. Businesses and online marketers have always wanted to move hyperlinks offline where consumers could click them – QR (Quick Response) Code technology does just that. In today’s world of iPhones, iPads and other smart mobile gadgetry, this technology actually makes more sense than forcing the users to type in a link, no matter how short. As consumers take greater ownership of information and integrate technologies in real life, QR Codes continue to merge the real and virtual worlds.
Jump points to the internet, QR Codes can hold infinite amounts of information. Printed on any product, paper, billboard, manual or even a visiting card QR Codes allow consumers to quickly link them from the real world to rich web content via smart phones. QR Codes can be placed anywhere; giving marketers another groundbreaking outlet to their mobile customers’ base.
QR Codes (also called matrix codes, two-dimensional bar codes) have come a long way since they were first created by Japanese corporation Denso-Wave in 1994. Later, Microsoft offered a similar solution called Tag. The popularity of QR codes is on a fast growth trajectory and a study shows that ‘smart phone users scanning the QR codes to access products and services information has led to a measured 9.840 per cent year over year increase for the third quarter of 2011.’ In another study conducted to determine the growing usage of QR codes by ad agency MGH, 72 per cent of smart phone users indicated that they would be likely to recall an ad with a QR code. This growth opens new opportunities for businesses and marketers seeking to leverage the mobile web. The main advantages of the QR code are cost, simplicity and ease of implementation. QR codes provide no incremental cost to a business already printing or selling ads, and add quantifiable potential to mobile commerce.
Smart phone scan-able black and white squares are not yet seen in Pakistan. In local market, I raised the subject of QR codes among tech savvy entrepreneurs. Rafay Bin Ali, IT Operations Manage, Lading Solutions Interface says, “there is little question that like bar codes, QR Codes are going to be part of our reality and everyday life in the local market. Given the convenience, I believe they’ll soon be recognized as one of the best suited options to connect real world to the online world.”
If there is one thing that can be counted on in our technological future, it is that information will continue to become more widespread, available and relevant. The internet will expand from a network of computers to a network of everything, with interactivity pre-programmed into nearly every object we use. Seeing the popularity and availability of smart phones, businesses need to adopt QR Codes and offer smart phone scan-able content that offer true value to consumers. Behaviourally speaking, the mass scanning of QR codes will most certainly depend on the utility of what the QR codes hold for users. That is where marketing innovations come in. The catalyst for marketing success will ultimately lie in the creative ways implementation of codes. Give consumers an enriching experience, a reason (or incentive), and they are likely to follow.
It may take some time before businesses start offering scan-able objects for offline use, but the direct relationship between an object’s online persona and the offline consumers will ultimately lead to better marketing and business growth.
The writer is Deputy Controller of Examinations at Lahore School of Economics. He blogs at http://logicisvariable.blogspot.com/ and can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org