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Posts Tagged ‘qr barcodes’

Heard about QR barcodes?  If you’re an avid smartphone user you may have already downloaded a QR reader ap – there are plenty of free ones out there.  If you haven’t seen them yet, it’s likely you will.

QR (Quick Response) barcodes are an easy way for companies to connect you to more information about their products.  The square-shaped codes look a little like a Rorschach test gone checkerboard.  But scan one with a QR ap via your smartphone’s camera and you’re connected to whatever content the product’s manufacturer chooses to provide you.

As a simple example, I recently snapped a photo of a QR code in a magazine and it directed me to a full article reprint on their website.  Admittedly, that’s a rudimentary application, but it gets you started.  The idea is that it’s easier for a consumer to snap a barcode photo than to type in a URL on a cell phone (once you get the hang of centering your shot in the software’s frame).

It’s not a stretch to envision that link taking you to a product demo video, a price comparator, or some other more compelling content.

Two companies, Microsoft and Ricoh Innovations make tag applications which create customizable 2D QR barcodes that can be placed on ads, posters, packages, magazines, websites, even billboards or clothing to link customers back to chosen content.

The idea is to engage customers in meaningful ways – to draw them a little more deeply into your designated user experience.  Of course, compelling content will be the key here.  It’s another new way to merge the real world with the digital one to provide a more meaningful user experience. 

Such barcodes may only be a step along the way, a gateway perhaps to a phenomenon gaining ground lately called ‘visual search’.  With visual search, you point your device at an object and it collects the predominant physical or natural characteristics of that object and then searches the web based on those characteristics.  As one industry player said, “it’s like barcodes without the barcodes.”

Still, pointing a piece of hardware like your smartphone at a physical object as a springboard to search and a broader user experience is pretty powerful stuff.  Useful, too, as marketers learn to exploit the possibilities to be found at the intersection of the real and the digital.

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