Snapchat and Apple could help revive QR codes
Quick Response (QR) codes were all the craze in the marketing scene some odd years ago. It was hard not to come across a visual ad or marketing collateral that didn’t had those pixelated squares. They were all over the streets, storefronts, and magazines. Marketers were so crazy about the potential of QR codes that they simply plastered them on everything.
Despite having been invented in the mid-90s as a replacement for traditional barcodes, QR codes only enjoyed widespread adoption for consumer marketing thanks to developments in mobile computing. The camera effectively functioned as a QR code scanner and mobile connectivity allowed these QR codes to point at landing pages for marketing campaigns.
Success in QR code use was a hit or miss thing to those who tried implementing them. Coca-Cola, for example, used QR codes as part of their promotion drive in Singapore using interactive screens and cameras. Users were able to download photo memorabilia and get free drinks through QR codes. However, the deluge of misplaced and uncreative QR code use caused fatigue in most consumers. Most of us aren’t excited to whip out our phones when we see one today. But this seems to be changing.
Making them cool again
Snapchat has been trying to make QR codes relevant again through Snapcodes. Snapchat QR codes were introduced a couple of years back after the company acquired Scan.me. The feature allows users to easily add other accounts as friends by scanning their Snapcodes. Users can customize and personalize their Snapcode with a selfie or some other image of their choosing.
Recently, Snapchat enabled Snapcodes to be used to point to external links allowing users to open webpages within the app. Snapcodes can be downloaded as vector images for use in print graphics such as posters and print ads. Snapchat has also extended their use to unlock filters and animations.
These uses are actually breathing some life into a technology that seemed to have fallen into obscurity. They’re also enhancing the viability of Snapchat as a promotional platform. Snapchat has more than 160 million users to date and is expanding even to older demographics. There’s much promise for businesses to use Snapcodes to tap into Snapchat’s user base to promote their products and services.
How about QR for TV?
Beyond Snapchat’s attempt, we should be able to look at a possible revival or new spins to the QR as a technology particularly the limitations that restricted its adoption and use. QR codes were limited to short distances and didn’t work well when displayed on digital screens like your TV. The lower resolution of displays from a few years back also didn’t help. Imagine having to stand up from the couch to scan a QR code flashed on the TV.
Recently, broadcast lead generation provider Sodyo unveiled FarQR. FarQR addresses the range limitations of conventional QR and can be used both for television and outdoor digital display screens. FarQR uses color vertex points rather than monochrome tiles to encode information. FarQR promises a detection range approximately 100 times the size of the code versus QR which can only be detected about 10 times the size of the code.
As such, it can serve a variety of use cases for interactive viewing such as point-and-purchase, point-and-learn-more, and point-and-vote. Imagine having more seamless experiences like easily transitioning viewing ad to purchasing the product on your mobile phone. Or voting for your favorite TV show contestant via code over texting or phoning in.
“Broadcasters place a FarQR Code on a commercial. The viewer points their phone to the screen, and interactive content from the broadcaster instantly appears on the phone from any viewing distance. FarQR Codes allow interaction between the two most important screens in our lives – TV and smartphone. Thanks to FarQR Codes, broadcasters can enrich content, engage and captivate the audience in ways they never imagined possible,” Sodyo co-founder Rina Alon shares.
The key for FarQR to succeed is for wider adoption. Sodyo provides an SDK that would allow marketers and software developers to create apps that support FarQR detection. If this technology becomes available on native camera applications for Android and Apple, then we may be looking at a whole new standard for visual marketing.
A legitimate comeback for QR?
QR codes are far from dead. We’re still seeing them in use albeit beyond the consumer context. Other messaging apps such as Viber and Line still use them for authentication. QR codes are even integral to China’s commerce today thanks to the pervasiveness of mobile payments in the country. It’s only recently with iOS 11 that Apple enabled QR code scanning available on the native camera application. This may have come a bit late but it’s a welcome development nonetheless.
In fact, these new developments are making QR codes viable again. Continued use by applications with large user bases like Snapchat helps to bring it back to the norm. New technologies such as FarQR are also set to overcome the limitations of conventional QR codes. Marketers should be able to see renewed potential in creating better and richer consumer experiences using codes.