Once touted as the missing link between digital and print marketing, QR codes have fallen out of favour with a lot of companies in recent years and in this article, we look at some of the reasons why.
What were they?
QR (short of quick response) codes are matrix barcodes that can be scanned with a QR scanner or smartphone to access digital content. QR codes were once popularly used to link digital and print marketing by linking to landing pages, exclusive offers, or related content.
Why did they fail?
The reasons why the QR code fell out of popularity largely relate to it’s accessibility and user friendliness. This might seem counterintuitive for a technology that seemed as simple as scanning a picture, but issues to do with efficiency and accuracy are common and makes QR codes unreliable. Compounding this was the fact that QR codes cannot be accessed using a computer, which is limiting when you consider that 91% of the world uses a PC or laptop to access digital content.
All these other issues aside, perhaps the single biggest reason that QR codes failed to gain traction was because they were not part of a native smartphone interface. Although at one time, QR codes were ubiquitous in all forms of print marketing, very few people knew how to use them or bothered to download the software necessary to read it. American research found that only 21% of smart phone users had ever bothered to scan a QR code, and only 2% scanned QR codes on a daily basis.
Does the QR code have a successor?
The story of QR code technology is really the story of a technology that we never really needed in the first place. In reality, shortened URLs are much more accessible and user friendly, they are also less visually intrusive and can be accessed using computers. Because URLs are something that most digital users engage with on a daily basis, its something they are comfortable using and can access without too much thought.
Is there a future for QR codes?
The jury is still out on whether the QR code will play a key role in the way we access digital content in the future, there are some companies out there doing creative things with this technology.
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