QR codes, those funky little black-and-white bar codes that seem to be edging their way into marketers' collective conscience in North America may never be fully embraced by the public, but that won't be for lack of trying on the creative side.
They are a great way to add interactivity to static content, but until smartphone camera software automagically opens the web content the QR code is pointing at, it takes a few too many steps to get to that interactivity.
So, we're in the age of experimentation by companies, brands and individuals who are trying to stand out from their rivals by trying something a little different. And we're seeing some cool executions:
This fellow brought his resume to life by making his headshot speak (h/t Radar DDB):
The Next Web has a bunch of great examples, including this one where Audi Japan makes a QR code out of people:
Toronto's Delvinia has a great post with some recent local examples, including a few from Proximity (M&M's and RBC).
And keep in mind that you can add a little branding into the code without ruining its utility, as The New York Times example to the left shows.
For a variety of reasons, I'm concerned these won't catch on in North America the way they have in Asia over the last decade. You have to remember that the growth there came in web-enabled feature phones prior to the ascension of the smart phone.
That noted, it'll be worth watching the creative attempts to get a glimpse of what might be if the hardware and software in mobile phones gel to simplify the code-scanning experience. And while I'm personally skeptical, I'm not ready to count QR codes out. It may just take several more audacious attempts by a few ballsy marketers to get the public interested enough to follow the QR code's digital breadcrumb somewhere.
While these things have been in use in some form in North America for at least three years, I haven't come across any really compelling statistics on usage, which is a little unsettling for an emerging technology, but here are a couple of resources to have a look at:
- stats on growth global usage of QR codes. Canada is number one in growth from Q3 to Q4 in 2010. (no absolute numbers, just trends.)
- recent analysis from web analytics firm PublicInsite on use/effectiveness in Canada. (no numbers, just anecdotes.)