QR Codes Get Bigger and Bolder

Written on
Oct 10, 2011 
Gavin Dunaway  |

ADOTAS – Just when I was beginning to wonder if the fascination with QR codes had run its course before the marketing potential of Rorschach-esque stamps could really be explored, along comes several interesting pieces of digital barcode news.

First, Skanz, which has pushed mobile barcodes into the social networking realm, decided to build the world’s largest QR code at the Wall Stadium Speedway in Jersey Store — the 10,000 square-foot barcode required 80 gallons of black and white paint.

I know what you’re thinking — Who the hell is going to scan that thing? Skydivers, of course! Yes, Skanz got a few skydivers to scan the massive QR code while in freefall, but actually anyone viewing the below video can also join in the scanning fun.

Scanning the world’s largest barcode will allow you to enter a raffle for two tickets and airfare to a show on Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “Watch the Throne” tour.

I met Bradley Lewis, CEO and Founder of Skanz’ parent company QR Media Group at the Adotas Off-Duty party last Tuesday, where he said that an Adotas article had inspired him to jump in the QR pool. I guess I can add the term “inspirational” to my LinkedIn account. While there are some innovative marketing tactics being used by the company that I hope to illuminate in a more in-depth piece in the future, Lewis explained that one of the coolest uses of Skanz barcodes is as a replacement business cards.

I am always forgetting my own business cards and I have tons of other peoples’ business cards in random places in my office and apartment (getting poked by the wrong corner of a card while in bed is no fun). Like most people, I could really use an organization system — and Skanz the social network is just that: a digital personal contact management and sharing system.

With a Skanz “Socialprint,” I can immediately share my phone number, email, website(s) and social networking links. Skanz offers numerous QR accessories, most notably a sticker you can throw on the back of your mobile and a wrist band with your code printed on it. (I must admit, I did momentarily think of the tattooed barcodes in “THX 1138“…)

The View From Up-High

So, a 10,000 square-foot QR code is pretty cool… But can you see it from space? Well, satellites can pick it up, just like rooftop QR codes.

On Thursday, PR firm and business consultancy Phillips & Company announced the launch of its Blue Marble service, in which for an initial fee plus monthly administration costs, the firm will turn a businesses rooftop into a giant QR code visible by satellite (and aliens taking home movies — for the folks back home). And yes, sky divers can probably scan them as well.

These “space-accessible billboards” will show up in Google Earth, Google Maps and other navigation features — users of map tools can then scan the code. Marketers would be wise to link the code to something more than a company website — it sounds like a fantastic opportunity to win a new customer through a special offer.

The content associated with the QR code is completely in the hands of the company that paid for it (though strategy consulting is included in the price). The firm has partnered with mobile marketing platform builder 44doors to manage the content and provide clients with analytics.

So why can’t any wise guy print out a giant QR code and paste it on his/her roof? Because Phillips & Co.’s will appear in the satellite programs for at least 12 months. According to the press release:

“Satellite images are updated on Google Maps and Google Earth by Metropolitan Service Areas (MSAs) on a rolling basis based on scheduled satellite and aerial updates managed by Google. Phillips & Company has developed its own proprietary schedule based on projected updates to satellite imagery.”

“By using QR code technology, we are taking dynamic marketing to literally the next level – low-earth orbit,” commented Phillps & Co. President Rich Phillips. “But the benefits are to any company on Earth that wants to optimize their real estate investment and build a marketing program that can take advantage of today’s mobile revolution.”

And if you’re going to turn your roof into a giant mobile barcode, why not make it a spectacle? According to the company’s website, it offers companion PR event coordination for the installation of the massive QR code. That’s full service.

Anybody Scanning Out There?

While giant QR codes may seem pretty bold, they’re only effective if people are actually scanning them. According to an online survey from Russell Herder, 72% of respondents said they had seen a QR code, but about 30% still didn’t know what they were. Of the group that had seen QR codes and knew what they were, only around 15% had actually scanned one — about a quarter of the 18-24 age demographic had done so.

More interesting, 28% of those that said they had scanned QR codes more than once said it was “usually” worth their time, while about half said “sometimes.” Fifteen percent answered rarely.

Tis the Scanning Season

For all you Scrooges out there that didn’t know, the holidays are right around the corner, and mobile barcodes can be quite a resource for retailers. For instance, Scanbuy shares that in 2010, a major retailer added QR codes next to certain toys featured in its mailers. When scanned, users were shown demos of the toys in action.

What do you know — the toys with the barcodes witnessed higher sales by region.

Gavin Dunaway is Editor, U.S. at AdMonsters, a leading trade publication, event producer and service provider for the online advertising industry. Previously, he had been Senior Editor of Adotas, where he arrived after years of ping-ponging around various industry publications. This Washington, D.C. native and George Mason University graduate also enjoys playing electric guitar so loud that the walls shake.

Reader Comments.

QR codes are white noise. a total waste of a marketers time. Devices aren’t ready for the codes, and there is no reward for consumers to interact.


Posted by OpsDude | 4:49 pm on October 10, 2011.

Very informative article, thanks for sharing.

Posted by Suppline ID | 5:01 am on October 14, 2011.

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