What killed the QR code?

QR codes showed a lot of promise a couple years ago as the number of smart phone users increased. But these unique tombstone-300x425looking squares never really took off and now it seems like most marketers have given up on them. If video killed the radio star, what killed the QR code?

Unfortunately for QR codes there seems to be several factors for its demise. One of the biggest factors leading to the QR code’s death was misuse. Companies were so excited to try this new way of connecting print media with online media that they slapped a QR code on whatever print material they could, as fast as they could. In many of these cases, the QR code led consumers to a page that was not optimized for mobile screens, making it hard to read. Or the code led to a webpage that showed no connection to the print material that the QR code was printed on.

Even when a QR code is used correctly, it’s hard to convince oneself that the minute it takes to pull out your phone, open up a scan-friendly app (assuming one had been downloaded), scan the QR code and then wait for the experience to load, is worth it. 

There are also some new alternatives taking over for QR codes that seem to be easier to use and provide the consumer with better content and information. One of these alternatives is Clickable Paper.  This new technology allows users to click on any part of the advertisement instead of having to focus on a specific code. You are then given a range of options depending on what the print ad was about, including a link to Amazon to buy the product, a YouTube product video, customer reviews, and the ability to share the link via Facebook, Twitter, or email. Watch this video to see Clickable Paper in action.

Whether it’s Clickable Paper or another new technology, the death of the QR code provided us with some lessons to follow for new technologies:

  • Make it easy for consumers to use.
  • Explain how it works, in clear, concise language.
  • Employ it only when it can add something unique to the user experience.
  • Make sure content or ads that contain it won’t be put in places where cellphone service is unavailable.
  • Make the apps available only for situations when using them makes sense.

Do you see any benefit of using Clickable Paper for your company? As a consumer would you take the time to use Clickable Paper or is it the same as a QR code to you?


4 thoughts on “What killed the QR code?

  1. I did notice a major lack of QR codes in recent marketing pieces from companies that used them. There are some great befits to them that I will really miss. For instance, when I was looking at houses, there are often fliers to take with the home and realtor information. A few homes I visited were out of fliers, but there was a QR code with the listing information and everything I needed to know. For real estate, I though QR codes were a major benefit. They will be missed!

    • Hi Jenny, I agree there are some great ways to use QR code effectively and real estate definitely seems to be one of them. I just saw a for sale sign with one on it the other day, so I’m sure we will continue to see QR codes in some avenues for a while.

  2. I still don’t want to let go of QR codes. They are easy to use, albeit ugly. My company had to promote paperless initiatives for some of our clients and QR codes were the way to go to disseminate materials during in-person events like conferences. There will be other technology that comes along – like the clickable paper you mention. And I’m still not letting go of QR codes!

  3. Only utilizing QR codes with something unique is definitely a lessoned learned here. I remember when they first became big. I was working at a retail store that sold fitness and health products. Every single product in the store had a QR code slapped on the label. What’s more is that the company itself created direct mail pieces with QR codes, coupons with QR codes, signage and banners with QR codes, and more. They were everywhere! It was a bit overwhelming and honestly, I can’t remember a single time that someone actually used one. Overkill (no pun intended) was without a doubt a major contributing factor to the death for QR codes.

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