Are QR codes pointless?

First published in March 2012

RECOMMENDED LINK | Marketing Comms | Mobile: Ah, QR codes, or ‘quick response’ codes if you like, they’re interesting aren’t they? The blocky bar codes have become rather fashionable in the last couple of years as every smart-phone owner finds that they have a bar code reader in their pocket.

Well, I say fashionable, media owners and marketers have embraced the QR code big time, because they can be used to link printed material (magazines, adverts, posters etc) to a website, in that consumers can scan the code with their phones and be taken straight to any relevant information online without having to type anything in. It’s a simple tool, which is why you’ll now find QR codes everywhere.

Perfect. Except, some people are now saying that, while publishers and marketers have embraced the modern bar codes, consumers haven’t really, most indifferent to the QR craze occurring before them on ad boards everywhere, and many still totally in the dark as to what the block squares are even meant to be used for.

With that in mind Craig Villamor and Brad Frost recently set up a Tumblr and posted pictures of QR codes used by marketing types that it seems unlikely anyone will ever scan, and encouraged the public to do likewise. You can read about the results in this Guardian piece here.