Companies across the world have long been looking for creative new ways to market their brands. In 2021, Marketing teams must ask themselves, “how can we reach out and find our customers in a socially distant world?” A Chinese video streaming company, Bilibili, found a unique way to do just that. Using thousands of drones, Bilibili staged a colorful light show advertising the one year anniversary of a video game release. The show culminated in a gigantic QR code floating in the night sky above Shanghai. When scanned the QR code linked to the company’s homepage, driving a unique form of referral traffic. In effect Bilibili created a gigantic floating billboard reminiscent of our favorite futuristic sci-fi movies. The team at Anvil Media knows most companies do not have access to a swarm of light up drones, however creating QR codes can be a simple way to drive some new traffic to your website. This week the Anvil Media team will be exploring the concept of QR code marketing, the history and current use of QR codes, and the concerns around QR Code marketing.
A scannable QR code advertisement created by drones above the skies of Shanghai.
— John Pathfinder Lester (@Pathfinder) April 17, 2021
What is a QR code and how can it be used for marketing?
A QR code, or Quick Response code, is a type of barcode, which is readable using a digital device. The square shaped grid is a series of pixels designed to store information. Historically a QR code was designed to store information on a product or part. The current versions of QR codes are already being used to push users to any number of digital resources and assets. With just a few simple clicks on a mobile device, the user can access information on a brand, product, or service.
Brands could use QR codes for marketing in several ways including:
- Pushing users to a website or specific landing page
- Send contact information like name, address, and phone number to a user’s device.
- Download an App.
- Direct users to social media platforms.
- Send users to a product shopping page.
- Get access to a special discount or offer on a product.
- If you are reading this on a desktop scan the code below!
History and Use of QR Codes
Using QR codes in marketing and advertising is far from a new concept. Originally created in 1994 for use in car manufacturing the QR code came into more widespread usage around 2010. Retail stores were using QR codes to allow users to find more information on products in the store. The concept was generally viewed as a novelty, as most consumers did not have a mobile phone capable of scanning the QR code. Additionally, at that time, websites were not optimized for a mobile device. Even if a user reached the webpage, they usually had a poor experience.
Fast forward to 2021, and most users have access to reasonably fast mobile internet, as well as devices capable of scanning QR codes without the need for a 3rd party app. Pair that with an increased need for social distancing, and the QR code is set to explode in use as a marketing tool. As restaurants and bars attempt to re-open QR codes are popping up at socially distanced tables, offering a safe way to access menus, order food, and pay the bill. Creating a consumer experience in which QR codes are common, could lead to unique and interesting ways to further engage customers. In a world of information, the QR code is poised to be a major part of business, travel, shopping, health, and more.
Concerns with QR Code Marketing
QR codes are easy to create, easy to scan, and thus may be an easy target for malicious or fraudulent behavior. Scanning a QR code on a mobile device could push a user to a website which hosts malware, download a malicious program, or enable tracking with out a users permission or knowledge. There are also concerns countries like China, which use the QR code to track health and finical information, could use the QR code system for nefarious purposes like monitoring and excluding certain individuals. Consumers should be aware they largely scan at their own risk. Ideally as the QR code becomes more ubiquitous across the US and the world, mobile devices and scanning systems will be better designed to weed out the potential threats.
It’s only May and 2021 has already been a year with some incredibly interesting developments in the world of marketing. This year has seen digital basketball shoes selling for big bucks, the continued rise of TikTok, and now giant QR codes floating over cities. While we can’t promise a swarm of drones displaying your logo for all to see, Anvil Media is always looking to elevate our clients marketing efforts. If you are looking to take your digital marketing presence to the next level contact Anvil Media today.