QR Codes: Careful on the Trigger.

04/21 2011

As much as we may hate to believe it, or are ashamed to admit it, not everyone has an iPhone. And on top of that (early adopters and techies, you might want to sit down for this one) not everyone even has a smartphone. Shocking, we know. But it’s true.

That said, the subject of access is becoming an increasingly crucial issue for marketers to monitor. As we move forward into the next generation of advertisement, we must carefully consider whom we may be isolating with new and emerging media types. Therein lies the QR codes quandary.

QR codes, also known as “quick response codes” or those bar code thingies that you can scan using a mobile device, are gaining popularity among brands as vehicles for branded content. Video? Open and playing. Coupon? Downloaded and ready for use. Mobi site? Up and browsing. The possibilities are endless (and expanding). SnapTags are a similar concept. And while these resources may be fun and exciting for those who 1) have a smart phone, 2) have a working camera on that smartphone, 3) have a data plan for online access anytime, anywhere, and 4) have downloaded the proper software to access the content, this leaves much of the population S.O.L.

Does this mean nobody should use QR codes or SnapTags to propagate their messaging? Of course not. But it does mean that we should be cognizant of our target markets and what level of technological access they are equipped with. Same thing goes for mobi sites. They are most certainly necessary to effectively reach all those “media snackers” out there, but these mobile-optimized experiences should not replace full websites. They should complement them.

Smartphone owners are a fast-growing population and, just as mp3 players have all but eliminated CD players, smartphones will inevitably take over. And until that day comes, it is our job as brands (and the people behind the brands) to make sure we are giving all our current and potential customers equal opportunity at content access.