Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Rise Of The QR Code

QR code image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
QR Codes have slowly but surely become a hot item to increase fan engagement for many artists, bands, brands and companies these days, as their use in every day marketing continues to rise. If you don't know what QR code is, take a look on the left to see an example (it's from Starbucks).

So what is it? The Quick Response (or QR for short) code is actually a 2D matrix bar code capable of storing up to 4,296 alphanumeric or 7,089 numeric characters. It can be thought of as a physical, analog hyperlink, since if you scan it with an app in your phone, it will take you to a web page on your browser.

The QR code was created in 1994 by the Denso Wave company in Japan as a means for tracking vehicle parts during manufacturing. It worked especially well at this function because a code can be detected and read at high speed, and although the popular use embeds a URL link, it's still used in a variety of rather mundane industrial tracking applications.

Okay, ready for some interesting QR code stats from How about:
  • 52% of people say they've seen or head about QR codes, and 28% have actually scanned one.
  • 57% of Facebook and Twitter users say they've scanned a QR code in the past year, and 40% say they've done so at least 5 times.
  • Of the people who regularly scan codes, 68% are Apple users, 26% Android and 4% Blackberry.
  • Starbucks are starting to use QR codes for payment.
  • Top brands like Ford, Audi, Pepsi, Ralph Lauren, McDonald's and Best Buy already use QR codes in their advertising.
  • Many authors are including QR codes in their books to take readers to updates and extras (something I'll be doing in the future myself).
So how do you get started? If you're a user, go online or to one of the app stores and download a free QR code scanner (I like Bee Tagg). The next time you see a code, give it a scan and it will automatically take you to a website on your browser. As long as you get a good scan (actually you're just taking a temporary picture with your phone camera and the app is translating the code), you're in business.

If you'd like to begin to use QR codes in your promotion, there are a variety of code generators available online. You can go here to see 14 of them, and get lots of useful code info as well. Also check out my previous posts, 10 Ways Musicians Can Use QR Codes and 5 Big QR Code Mistakes, for some additional ideas and tips on their use.

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Check out my Big Picture blog for discussion on common music, engineering and production tips and tricks.

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