Category: QR Codes

QR Codes – Part 2

After an introduction to QR codes last week and a discussion about how they are currently used, I want to use this week’s entry to discuss some of the reasons QR has not been regarded as successful.  As we discussed last week, few smartphone users even know how to scan QR.  According to a recent article written by Sean X Cummings, he conducted a survey of 300 people about QR codes (  Here were the results he came up with:

— 11 percent correctly answered QR code or quick response code

— 29 percent responded with “Some bar code thingy”

— Seven percent guessed some variant of “Those things you stare at that get 3D when you cross your eyes. What picture is it? I can’t seem to get it”

—  The remaining 53 percent tried everything from a secret military code, Korean (uh really?), to an aerial street map of San Francisco

This is astonishing to me.  In a society that prides itself on being so technologically advanced, how are we so unaware of technology that has been around for a few years now?  My answer would have to be because these days, everyone just wants to throw a QR code on everything they touch.  This in turn leads to companies simply sending people to their websites.  As we discussed in part one of this blog, this leads to zero relative advantage over not using it at all.

One of the questions I posed to Adam Myszewski  (, National Sales Manager at Houck Transit Advertising ( was:  What could companies do to make their QR code stand out?  Adam was adament about companies putting more thought into the content provided by QR.  He says, “Instead of simply slapping it on every ad they run, have an enticing and engaging call to action with it. Have it link to a specific page for a promotion, or a special website. In reality, a QR code in an ad is visually unappealing, but most companies don’t bother to incorporate them in an interesting way. The best QR codes, and the only ones that I will take the time to scan, are stand alone QR codes where I have no idea the company that they are for. These guerrilla ads at least have some mystique and promise of something interesting. ”

So it clearly appears that QR is not worth doing unless you are going to take the time to do it properly.  The unfortunate thing in this whole argument is not everyone will put the appropriate amount of time into their QR.  What they don’t realize it that they are simply dooming the technology to fail.  QR should only be done if there is a special offer for those that scan the barcode or some sort of special content only available to scanners.

Let’s move away from general QR conversation and turn our focus to the transportation advertising point of view.  One thing we must take into consideration is buses, taxi, and train ads are constantly in motion, making scanning a QR code difficult.  Logistically, this would seem to make the QR code unusable in transportation based ads.    I, however, would tend to somewhat disagree.  As a sales associate, I usually have some input into what exactly my clients do on their ad.  I will admit that we have a wide range of clients in a technological sense.  For some of my clients, I certainly would not suggest the use of QR for many reasons.  A handful of my clients are beginners at harnessing new technology for the betterment of their company.  They don’t seem to embrace social media and really don’t have much of a website to speak of.  While it certainly is not my job to discuss this with them, I wouldn’t even suggest the use of QR for them.  Solutions for Advertising does have clients that are more technologically advanced, to the point where they are on par with our online presence.  There is certainly a possibility that if they were to think of a creative way to use QR, we would advise that they use it on their ads.

I do think that QR does have a place in marketing in the coming years.  As I mentioned in part 1, the diffusion of smartphones has not reached critical mass yet.  Maybe QR codes are ahead of their time and if marketing execs can figure out a way to make the use of them more user-friendly, they may have a place in marketing for years to come.  With the emerging technology our country possesses, I think that QR could lead to a new way of thinking about our surroundings.  Imagine walking down the street and seeing an ad on the side of a bus with a QR.  The ad interests you and you quickly scan the code.  This leads to a much more interactive experience with our surroundings.  When posed a question about this subject, Adam Myszewski didn’t share my thoughts about this:  “Unless the companies that are constantly using QR codes in their ads start to rethink their use and make them interesting for the consumer, then QR codes will be gone in a few years. I can’t imagine that I am alone in my avoidance of scanning QR codes, and you still have a very large portion of the population that doesn’t even know what a QR code is. The time for QR codes seems to be fading fast.”  I will agree with Adam in that it is clear that companies are not using QR to its’ potential.  I do think that with heightened awareness, some marketers will see that they are ruining a great asset in advertising.  I’m hoping that in the coming months and years that these people will embrace what QR has to offer and begin making strides to take more time with this technology.

At the end of the day, QR codes may not ever be something that will be embraced by our tech savvy nation.  Presently, those in charge of marketing are to blame, by not putting enough time into researching the proper way of using this new technology.  I do see a relative advantage here and hope that people on both sides begin to use QR in a more effective way.

Special thanks to Adam Myszewski for his help on this blog.  Without his insight, this blog would not have been possible.

Paul M. Miller



QR Codes – Part 1

Do QR Codes have a place in transportation advertising?

My main reasoning for covering QR codes in this entry is many of our clients recently have discussed whether adding a QR to their ads would be effective.  With Solutions for Advertising(, we offer transportation-based ads (bus, taxi, and train) and these ads are usually in motion when people see them.  I have read numberous articles that discuss the positives of QR codes in print ads, to the point where some say there is new hope for print because of QR.  I wanted to do some research to see if it would even be feasible for QR in transportation-based ads.  I feel that QR codes certainly fall into the realm of social media, and should be embraced as such.

For those who don’t know what QR codes are (and I’m sure there are a lot of you) here is a great description of what they are, who invented them, and why they may have a place in society (  Basically, they are like bar codes that can be scanned by smartphones.  When scanned, they can do many different things to promote your service or product.  I can almost guarantee that everyone has at least seen them, but I don’t know how many people actually scan them.

When beginning my research, one thing that I immediately realized is that many smartphone users don’t even know how to scan QR codes.  I have tried to scan them before and have had little success.  QR codes should be much more simple to access.  As someone who has a lot of experience with the diffusion of innovations theory (a theory in communications that can help determine whether technologies will succeed or fail), the QR code does not seem that it has much of an opportunity to succeed in our landscape.  The most important thing about new technologies revolves around people in society that influence others.  Many of the people higher up on the technological food chain have already passed on QR because of two reasons:  it is difficult to use, and more importantly, companies have not realized how to use QR to its’ potential.

In doing my research, I was able to speak with Adam Myszewski  (, National Sales Manager at Houck Transit Advertising ( about this subject.  I will be referencing our interview throughout this blog and next week’s blog.  One of the first questions I asked Adam was:  Why are people not using their QR code resources effectively?  Adam responded by saying:  “It seems like a majority of companies and their marketing departments aren’t very imaginative about using QR codes. They tend to think that using a QR code to send people straight to their website’s main page is embracing the technology, when in fact, it’s killing the reputation of QR codes.”   In my experiences, I would absolutely agree with Adam.  Because marketing departments fail to be thoughtful in their QR design, it almost is killing the medium entirely.  When people scan QR and are sent to the company website, what advantage does that serve?  People could just as easily go to the website on their phone, probably faster than by scanning.  Basically, Adam and I both agree that a new way of looking at QR from a creation standpoint is a necessity if QR is to have a future in this technological landscape.

I have to a link to a website that quickly describes diffusion of innovations and the s-curve (  This is a very basic introduction to diffusion.  I think this is important in the discussion of QR because this is a great indicator of potential success or failure.  One thing that should be noted is while seemingly every day you hear more and more people with smartphones, only about 50% of cellphone users have smartphones.  The diffusion of smartphones hasn’t even reach its’ critical mass yet.  So if QR codes can just hang around, maybe they can have a place in advertising over the next decade.

This blog will continue next week and discuss more of my interview with Adam.  I would like to discuss my final findings about QR codes in transportation advertising, as well as discussing some ways to improve the present landscape of QR.

Paul M. Miller