THE DEATH OF QR
Trends come and go in the technology space rapidly. In no case is this more apparent than the rapid rise and fall of QR codes as a marketing tool in the last five years.
What once seemed like a sure thing – a near infinitely customizable code that could be printed on anything and scanned with a phone’s camera – crashed and burned fast with adoption dropping nearly as fast as it picked up a few years ago.
For many industries, including real estate where QR codes were especially hyped, this has been a learning experience and it’s evident now that “image recognition” has taken over as the next step in the evolution of what QR codes were meant to do.
So what caused the death of QR codes? Here are some of the things that lead to the sudden drop off in their use and what we are using now instead:
The Growth of Cross-Screen Marketing
For several years, the growth of mobile was a call to action for marketers everywhere. You needed to have a mobile website. You needed to have a mobile-friendly marketing campaign. This is still true today, but today’s consumers, while extremely active on their mobile devices, are more fluid.
Browsers support continuous interaction – opening tabs and saving content between mobile phones, tablets, and desktops seamlessly. A mobile-only marketing tool like the QR code doesn’t make sense in a multi-device ecosystem like this. Instead, businesses should be investing in responsive mobile websites that work seamlessly across all devices with the same basic user experience.
The Technology Advanced Too Fast
A QR code is designed to convey complex information in a universally recognizable symbol. And yet, we don’t really need that anymore. Image recognition software has advanced so quickly and so thoroughly that we now have apps capable of recognizing locations, objects, and emotions on a screen in seconds.
Google’s image recognition software in particular has shown incredible advancements in recent years, capable of picking up entire screens and the context within those screens – why would we need a code when your phone can see what’s happening in front of you?
Location Based Marketing Is Much More Proactive
QR codes are a passive form of marketing. They still require users to pull out their device, open the camera, and scan the code, and only then will they perform the action you want of them.
Geo-fencing offers the same interaction that a QR code aims for but in seconds and within a strict geographic target. This technology allows marketers to send messages to phones and devices within a specific geographic range based on GPS coordinates. It can be used in malls, for open houses, or for local distributors or franchisees promoting a sale. Best of all, it doesn’t require the user to do anything – the message will reach them whether they take action or not and with more than 67% of mobile users saying these coupons are convenient and preferred, it’s an effective tool.
Micro-Location Targeting in Physical Locations
Apple published their micro-location technology for mobile apps in 2013 in the form of iBeacon. In a nutshell, iBeacon allows linked device to transmit signals to each other in close proximity without using a lot of battery power. This can also be done via third party hardware and offers an easy and highly targeted way for marketers to reach out to anyone with a BLE-compatible device and the brand’s app.
Examples of this include department stores that send interesting deals and coupons to shoppers based on where they are in a store and what they are looking at. The same ideas could be used in a number of other settings – from notifications about features in a home to neighborhood data during an open house.
The Concepts Behind QR Codes Live On
The goal of QR codes was to provide a way for mobile device users to interact with marketing materials in real time – to get more information or access much larger sets of data from those they interact with.
The technology may have died quickly, but the concepts behind it live on in the new technologies that are shaping the marketing and real estate landscape. It’s an exciting time and will likely continue to advance as the technology caters to how consumers interact with their devices.