Roman’s Rants: The QR Code Fairy Tale

These days you see them absolutely everywhere: on billboards, in magazines and newspapers, the little black-and-white QR codes that are meant to connect the offline and online worlds oh so wonderfully. But in most cases, they are fucking useless and downright annoying.

So here is how this should work: If you come across such a harbinger of modern mobility, you grab your smartphone, fire up one of the numerous Apps that are meant to decipher this code, hold your camera in the direction of the code like you were actually taking a picture, wait for the autofocus of your mobile camera to get a clear image and if all works well you are being redirected to some website. This is full of shit for two reasons.

First of all, using this technology is a sore pain in the arse. Those of you who have already tried this will agree that it is awkward to be taking snapshots like this. The only people I have actually seen doing this are sales representatives at trade shows and congresses, sporting their new technology. In real life, nobody uses these damn things. Have you ever seen somebody stand in front of a billboard that is, say, advertising a new movie, and take a picture of this code to somehow get some extra information? No, because it is a bullshit user experience.

Secondly, even if somebody ventures into the world of QR code photography, what he is usually referred to is a website that is not meant to be viewed on mobile phones. My friend Marco has written a piece about this when trying out jeweler Christ’s mobile offer. It is one thing to plaster one’s advertising material with QR code, it is another thing to have a campaign behind it that is thought through and reflects the mobile context the user is in when he uses the QR code. So, either you give us a good reason for undergoing all this QR hassle or leave us alone with this crap, for crying out loud!

Rather than being the next big thing, QR codes are nothing more than a bridge technology such as the German BTX or the French Minitel in the eighties – before the Internet as we know it today arrived. They are just a means to an end and one of the few peculiarities our children and grandchildren will wonder about: „Grandpa, you must be joking – people took pictures of paper billboards – WTF?““

Far more promising in this context is the NFC technology we keep writing about – have a look at those articles and you know what I’m talking about.

4 Responses to Roman’s Rants: The QR Code Fairy Tale

  1. Malte says:

    I don’t think it is that absurd to use QR for bringing visitors to your website. Did you ever try to type in a web address with cold fingers – not to speak of the length of URLs? A way to access a website by starting an app and scanning a code is (imho) a lot more covenient.

    BUT you’re perfectly right about the sense of not mobile-optimized campaigns which are addressed with QR-ads. Hopefully somebody in charge of marketing strategy will read your post and think about it :-)

  2. Kai Nehm says:

    If you don’t mind to read german blogs, you might have a look at my two last encounters with the ugly blocks.

    short:
    McDonalds is doing a very bad campaign, starting with the wrong format, showing text instead of an URL as mime type, having a 404 Error instead of a landing page and worst of all promoting a flash page.

    The second campaign was from shoe vendor Görtz. Nothing new and shiny, just solid craftsmanship. The billboard in the right place and right size, a true mobile site and the QR code linking to one page with a clear cta on the billboard and the mobile site. (just a newsletter subscription)

  3. Pingback: QR Codes Are the Roller-Skating Horses of Advertising | QR Code Reader

  4. Pingback: QR Codes Are the Roller-Skating Horses of Advertising » Meslema

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