April 16. 2012 9:00AM

QR Codes: Useful or just annoying?

Social Media Strategies

By Jay Sanders & Andrea Rech of GS Design

  
They're all but ubiquitous, those techy monochromatic boxes. But are QR Codes creating a deeper connection with consumers? Or are they just a way for marketers to say “I'm hip” while literally being square? Two experts at GS Design battle it out.

A wart on your ad – Jay Sanders, associate creative director

Marketing that invites – and rewards – deeper engagement? Great idea. QR Codes rarely do either. What do they do?

1. They spoil layouts. QR Codes are so overused these days that most viewers see them as visual static, like trademarks and legal copy.

2. They bewilder consumers. How do you use a QR Code? Most ads don't say. Or they're vague: "Snap the code." Do that and you just get a picture. Reading the code requires a special app.

3. They're passé. There are easier ways to learn more about products that interest you. Try Google Goggles.

A sales conduit – Andrea Rech, director of client services

Not so fast. When QR Codes are utilized properly, they become a useful tool in the marketing mix.

1. Consider the audience. Adoption rates are higher among young, tech-savvy males. If this is your target, go for it.

2. Be logical about placement. QR Codes often appear on moving vehicles and freeway billboards. (Think about that!) Usage rates are best when they're placed on a product or where consumers physically engage with your brand.

3. Make it worth the effort. A QR Code should help consumers better understand what they're looking at – whether a retail display, product, artwork or something else. Don't just send them to your home page; provide useful information.
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