Owning the Conversation

POSTED BY Chris Monberg on Mar 11, 2011


I keep hearing about how great QR codes are. I hear they’re in big Japan. I hear that North American consumers should be more sophisticated, more international, more open to new technologies , and then, QR codes could make our lives better too.

Except that the QR code user experience sucks and I generally despise them. We need to take some responsibility for the fact that they’re on people’s minds. We love it when clients are open to new interactive technologies, and we were the kind of people who named-dropped them and called them “innovative” when they hit the popular market. So, yes, we’ll make them for you if you ask, but you also deserve to know how we really feel about them.

Manufacturers, please disregard this entire rant. QR codes, like bar codes and RFID, provide important operational tools to you...

Agencies, If you’re failing to reach me, I’m not going to dig for my cell phone, pull up an app (never mind wait to download it), position the camera such that there’s no shadow and then wait for the image to focus, process, open a browser and redirect to your site. I could type your url in my phone’s browser 10 times in those 2 minutes. I might have been lured by the novelty once, but I’m done now. Forever.

Brands, the aforementioned goes for you too. Yes, we need to close the ‘clicks to bricks’ gap. You probably have a lot of great stuff online that may help me fall in love with your brand, and we applaud you for not cramming it onto your label. There is a time and a place to bridge that digital-divide, but can we really believe that it’s going to happen when I walk by your poster, read your article or put your package away in my cupboard? I’m sure of this: communicating through QR codes is unlikely to produce good brand experiences. Google is really, really fast and it’s the way that I interact with the web every day. Work on your SEO and SEM, and reach out to me in the venues where I already live online – don’t make me come to you. If you’re still stuck, let’s talk about other inventive ways to solve your challenges.

If you’re a technophile, there are tools out there that will help catapult you onto the latest handset. Social platforms and Geo-targeting can help you be relevant and contextual. Who knows where Google Goggle will go? I’m personally excited for near-field communication as it becomes more accessible – and I even hear they’re printing circuits out of paper! Whoa!

In the meantime, take care of the low hanging fruit. Create a great website for people that actively want to learn more. Optimize your site for mobile browsers or consider a native application. Revise your packaging so that people can fall in love with it on the store shelf. Update your dressing rooms. Fix your products so that we can’t live without them.

Soon, there will come a day when I can have a branded experience without buggy camera apps and aggravating black and white blemishes begging for my participation. I see a world where there are no more QR codes… and I see my rage towards broken experiences being replaced with joyful interactions and a cold margarita.

</technology rant>

This is a rant, not a deeply tested creed. Have you had a good QR code experience? We’d love to see them. Hit us up in the comments section.

WRITTEN BY Chris Monberg

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Diamond Dingleberry

Jan 27, 2012 at 7:07pm

Great post.

So, If these are so awesome they would be as popular as the App. Format that apple created for the mobile/pad market, yet they are not. They have not embedded themselves into our lives in the same useful manner. I believe fhey are for the most part a tool for selling or promoting in a short term, "what can I get for free". The equivilant of a cut and save coupon.
I'm old and I remember these tricks used in a different manner. It was called roadside architecture. Make a building into the shape of a boot, chicken or donut and people would be attracted to it from the sheer novelty aspect. It worked. Got a great memory picture of me in front of the "wall drug" dinosaur. I hardlly ever look at it. Ha!