What is a QR code?
Created on 11 August, 2022 | Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) | | 5 minutes read
What exactly is a QR code?
Everyone in the Netherlands knows today what a QR code is. This code is intended to quickly provide information. Nowadays often via a smartphone. In the early days of the QR, however, this was different. There were no smartphones at all back then.
QR codes are a type of two-dimensional bar code created in 1994 by the Japanese company Denso Wave to enable high-speed scanning of components in the automotive industry.
More than 20 years later, QR codes have outgrown their initial use thanks to their "Quick Response" to access digital content in the physical world, and have become a powerful mobile marketing tool.
By scanning a QR code, you can instantly access a URL, a vCard, a YouTube video, a social media profile or even download a file, get a coupon or make a PayPal payment.
The uses of QR codes are infinite and that is what makes them so unique.
Rise and 'Fall'
Around 2010, the QR code became an increasingly widespread concept. More and more people knew what it was and more and more advertisers started using it. In 2012, 40% of the Dutch population had ever scanned a code. However, this was often a one-time use only. We cannot yet speak of real acceptance. Advertisers tried to bridge the gap between online and offline by adding QR codes to bus shelters, packaging or other advertising, but success often eluded them.
New start of the QR code
You may not think about it very often, but the QR code is everywhere these days. Where the QR code seemed to die a silent death, it is now back in a big way. For example, the code is no longer just used to open a URL, but also, for example, to pay, scan loyalty cards or redeem coupons.
In 2022, the QR code has become more than just a marketing tool but much more of a technical solution for, say, payments or having your discount coupon scanned at McDonald's.
Why is the QR code back in the spotlight?
Whereas for a while the trend was for marketers to shout that the QR code was dead and NFC was going to be the whole thing, that is no longer the case. (This doesn't change the fact that there may be a future for NFC as a marketing tool.) There are a number of reasons why the QR code is back in a big way:
- Major smartphone manufacturers have begun to see the value of QR code. It is a lot easier for consumers to scan a QR code. Since iOS11 and Android 8.0, the native camera app possesses a QR scanner by default. The user opens his camera and scans the code. This code is immediately recognized. You do not have to download a separate app (with all kinds of advertisements) anymore.
- The cameras that are in the average smartphone today are of much higher quality than they were 10 years ago. As a result, the code no longer needs to be so large, allowing more room for the design on printed ads, for example.
- Virtually everyone has mobile internet that is also many times faster than it was 10 years ago.
- Every respectable business has a website that is mobile-ready. As a result, consumers rarely face disappointment when they scan a code.
- The acceptance of the QR code by advertisers and entrepreneurs has increased significantly. For example, it has become quite normal to scan a QR code on the terrace to view the menu. The pandemic has accelerated the use of the code. Guests now do not have to touch a menu and contact with the waiters is also minimized. In the US, for example, an increase of 750% in the number of QR code downloads has been measured since the beginning of the pandemic. Companies can easily refer to a review page on Google by means of a QR code.
- Good example leads the way: where previously it often seemed to have little added value, this has changed significantly in recent years. The usefulness of the QR code has become much more visible in practice, which has led to a snowball effect in the use of the QR code.
The QR code will be fully established by 2022. In doing so, the end of the possible applications is far from being reached. The world is becoming increasingly 'cashless'. Digital banking and payment in combination with the QR code therefore seems to be the future.
Why you as an entrepreneur or marketer should embrace the QR code
For everyone, the QR code (still) offers a large number of advantages. However, often these are not yet fully exploited. The QR code can offer added value in the following ways:
- Making offline channels measurable
- For example, after distributing door-to-door advertising, it is difficult to measure the success of this action. If you add an utm code to the URL of the QR code, you can see in Google Analytics exactly how many visitors your action has generated. You can also see what the users subsequently did on the website.
- Bridge the gap between offline and online
- Because you can measure what the offline (or online, of course) action yields, you can start retargeting the website visitors who come out of the campaign. For example with the Facebook Pixel. You can track these people in a target group to retarget online.
- Generate interest by applying element of surprise
- If, for example, you want to advertise a new product and make use of offline advertising options such as bus shelters, the QR code offers the solution. You can make use of an element of surprise by not giving away the name of the new product. That is how you generate interest.
Of course, the use of a QR code is never an end in itself. The QR code does not determine the success of the campaign. But it can be a means to promote the success of the campaign by using it in a creative way. The content of the landing page should be stimulating and challenging, and should not disappoint the user.