Well for what they are, here is a great link that was shared by Ashley White AKA BeaumontCVB that is a great QR primer. And I've written about QR in the past, especially how to use QR markers to make Tourism Print advertising work harder for your brand.
But what I wanted to talk to you about today was the part I fear that most brands don't think about -- what is the content behind the code going to look like? And should that content quality vary by usage occassion?
As you may know, QR codes can be linked to all kinds of content/actions. You can have a scanned QR code allow for the sending of a Text Message, or have it pre-populate an SMS message, or pre-dial a phone number. These are all great instanct connection applications for QR codes. But what I think gets marketers (and I'll confess, me too) most excited is the ability to have a QR code connect to other data, media or information via a pre-programmed URL.
But the question becomes, what should I connect my QR too? I've had more than a few folks ask that today (might have something to do with the fact I included QR in a presentation yesterday) so I thought I'd share my thoughts with you in hopes of helping you to think through usage of QR and maybe you'll share a few of your thoughts with me too. Deal? Ok... so here we go.
Using QR Codes in Your Advertising
When using QR in advertising, one of the most interesting options is to link to video. Now a print ad can become a video ad and video, due to the ability to include sight, sound and motion is traditionally a far better medium to generate emotion. Additionally, if your product is best demonstrated live, then an ad that can link directly (in real time) to a video I can play on my mobile phone is a total home run. For destination marketers, CVBs, etc., the ability to link a print ad to live TRACKABLE video of their destination to a print ad is marketing gold. Yes, QR Codes are trackable, just like dedicated 1-800's.
While you can simply shoot a video with a little Flip cam, I think there are a few arguments against using that video as the one you link to from a professional advertisement. If you talk to really smart video folks, they'll tell you that lighting and audio are key to making great video. The Flip doesn't have the best of audio unless you're in highly controlled environments. If you're exposed to wind or in a loud public space, the lack of a remote or directional mic will render your audio very difficult to hear. On the flip side (pun intended) the newer HD Flips actually shoot pretty darn good video IF you have taken the time to have decent lighting. But like most point and shoot video cams, they perform poorly in poor lighting because you can't do anything to adjust the video recording settings...things like slowing down the frame rate for instance can greatly improve low light level video performance.
Another place to consider making a bit of an investment is in the editing of your videos. There is an art to editing and taking a few extra minutes of time can turn an ordinary video into something far more compelling. Just the addition of a great soundtrack can significantly improve or negate good video. The addition of cut shots or title cards to call attention to key items from the audio can also take an ordinary video and make it far more powerful. But to do these things you'll need to really learn how to use today's quite powerful desktop video editing tools. And if you don't have the time, this is one place that you may want to consider paying a professional to do it for you.
In Market Use of QR Codes
The second place you may make use of video and QR codes is "in market." I think this has really incredible ramifications for tourism marketers, museums, libraries and book stores for instance.
Here again, QR codes can link to all kinds of text, audio and video files that can create a richer user experience. If you're a bookstore or library, you might have a QR code link to an audio or video file of the author doing a reading from select passages of the book or even to videos of consumers providing reviews of the book.
Museums and tourism destinations can imerse a traveler/user into a deeper brand experience with what they are looking at right now. If I see an object in a museum, I can scan the QR code to get a deeper, richer audio/video explanation of the history of that object. It gives you the ability to attach a personal story to every object I as a consumer come into contact with on my journey. I'm sure you could also probably create (if there isn't one) a way to produce a running track of the QR codes I scanned (coupled with a picture of the object/place I was at when I scanned it) and give me a way to relive my travel/visit at a later date. Sort of a real-time scrapbook if you will.
Now here, because of the volume of video or audio files you'll need to create, I think it is very acceptable to use items like Flip cams to record narrations or other such files. Here the consumer/visitor is in the space now or in your market now and the purpose of the QR code is less about marketing and more about going deeper and gaining more information than is presently in front of me as the consumer. So a slight drop off in the quality doesn't seem to be something I as a consumer would mind as much. You? Would you mind it as much?
You'll have to forgive me if my thoughts here aren't completely jelled. Like you, I'm still thinking through QR Codes and how best to use them. More importantly, I'm still thinking through the backend of QR Codes, the content that the QR Code links to.... and wondering exactly what is the optimal quality/cost point for the content those QR Codes link to. Care to share your thoughts? Love to hear where you're at and where you think you'll be going with QR Codes in the future.
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