Links In Real Life: QR Codes, Shazam, and more

Joey Fung  

March 28, 2011

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It was only a matter of time before the internet broke out of the desktop and into the world. It seems like ages ago that adding “.com” to your company name in ads was the big thing to increase lead generation. That was when the web was really coming into the mainstream, much like what’s happening to QR codes now. Using a QR-scanning mobile app is like clicking a link in real life. There is far less effort than remembering a url, launching a browser, and typing it in. Similar channels are opening up such as Old Navy’s Shazam campaign or Swedish company Bilpriser.se’s app that researches automobiles based on photos of their license plates.

Some think that QR codes are simply a fad, but we believe only as much as “dot-com” was a fad. The ability to show off the technology, from both the marketer and consumer sides, isn’t unlike the early days of the web. Dot-coms haven’t disappeared, however, they have simply molded into everyday life to the point that they aren’t thought about as a unique entity. QR codes have now hit the mainstream and will be hyped up most of this year, but eventually will become a means to an end, like the dot-com or the bar-code. This is just one of the transitions into ubiquitous computing.

Critics complain that people don’t know what to do with QR codes, but again, that’s not unlike the early days of the web. While phones are becoming smart enough for facial recognition and object detection, so much so that QR codes may not even be needed, the look of QR codes make it a call to action in the real world, much like underlined text is a call to action for a link in the online world. With augmented reality, however, the QR link needn’t launch a browser. Richer experiences can be created as the line between online and offline blurs. In the meantime, marketers need to entice customers to scan the QR code, because, like a link, there needs to be a benefit for the customers to engage.

Check out an example showcasing the blend of real and online spaces. Unfortunately there is little call to action or valuable engagement: