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Mobile Marketing and How to Make The Barcode Hip Again

It’s generally safe to assume by now that in a small group of people, someone has a smart phone.
My personal favorite use of these is by the Detroit Red Wings. I’m bias, yes, but you find me a better use. On the big screen, the Wings gave instructions on which free apps to have downloaded, and which page in the program to turn to. What the fans got is a hilarious YouTube video named ‘Kronwalled”, linked below. The best Kronwalling happens 22 seconds in. Anyone that makes that face is really asking for a good Kronwalling. According to the Red Wings, people watching the video through a mobile device watched the video from beginning to end 22% of the time, far exceeding their expectations. They also plan to experiment with and integrate more multimedia placements with their traditional ad mediums.
[ insert brochure image with QR code ]
[ insert KRONWALLED youtube video ]
Another experimental use of QR codes came from the Weather Channel, who surprisingly always seems to be at the forefront of new technology (widgets, phone apps, desktop alerts, and now QR codes). They took this a step further than the Red Wings, putting a large QR code on screen during a broadcast. Scan it with your phone, and it takes you to the Android marketplace, where you can download the weather channel app for your mobile phone. Genius!
Other interesting uses I’ve seen or heard of lately include several restaurants with these codes in their windows. You scan the code, and it takes you to a Google Reviews page where you can read what other people thought, see the menu and hours of operation, and get the link to their website if you want more information. There was a billboard that was just a large QR code. This approach will work while the idea is new and still clever, but will probably fade as they become more common place.
[picture of QR billboard ]
Also, Campbell-Ewald, the winner of the Time Magazine ‘Selling Detroit’ contest, used a QR code in their ad, which will now appear for free in Time Magazine. Although I’m not sold on their ad being the best of the contestants, I really do appreciate their forward thinking, and it likely played a huge role in their winning of this contest.

The growing popularity of smart phones is leading to a very fundamental change in the way advertisers reach out to users. It’s generally safe to assume by now that in a small group of people, someone has a smart phone with them. The better question would be is it already in their hands, or still in their pocket or purse.   The evolution of this mobile marketing landscape presents some new and interesting ways that advertising touches us on a daily basis, but it is also boosting the use of a much older technology; the QR (quick response) Code, AKA, the barcode.  Apps on new cell phones are now able to read these codes, allowing virtually any traditional form of marketing to easily become a launch pad for a multimedia experience. This has the potential to be a revolution in mobile internet marketing. 

My personal favorite use of QR codes is by the Detroit Red Wings. I’m bias, yes, but you find me a better use. I bet you the Colorado Avalanche aren’t doing anything nearly as cool yet. On the big screen, the Wings gave instructions on which free apps to have downloaded, and which page in the program to turn to. What the fans got is a hilarious YouTube video named ‘Kronwalled”, linked below. The best Kronwalling happens 22 seconds in. Anyone that makes that face is really asking for a good Kronwalling. According to the Red Wings, people watching the video through a mobile device watched the video from beginning to end 22% of the time, far exceeding their expectations. They also plan to experiment with and integrate more multimedia placements with their traditional ad mediums.

Red Wings QR Program

Another experimental use of QR codes came from the Weather Channel, who surprisingly always seems to be at the forefront of new technology (widgets, phone apps, desktop alerts, and now QR codes). They took this a step further than the Red Wings, putting a large QR code on screen during a broadcast. Scan it with your phone, and it takes you to the Android marketplace, where you can download the weather channel app for your mobile phone. Genius!

Other interesting uses I’ve seen or heard of lately include several restaurants with these codes in their windows. You scan the code, and it takes you to a Google Reviews page where you can read what other people thought, see the menu and hours of operation, and get the link to their website if you want more information. There’s been a few instances of entire billboard displays being a QR code. This approach will work while the idea is new and still clever, but will probably fade as they become more common place.

QR Code Billboard (London)

Also, Campbell-Ewald, the winning agency of the Time Magazine ‘Selling Detroit’ contest, used a QR code in their ad, which will now appear for free in Time Magazine. Their forward thinking likely played a huge role in their winning of the contest and $1,000,000 in free advertising space.

Campbell-Ewald: Selling Detroit

Where else would I like to see this done? How about in news papers? AnnArbor.com is changing the way we see and react to the news, so where could they go next? How could a newspaper use QR codes?

Google is doing some cool things with how we view news. One of my favorite things they’re currently working on is called Living Stories (livingstories.googlelabs.com ). If AnnArbor.com had the QR code on the hard copy of all stories that are still in progress (Iraq/Afghanistan Wars, Local Elections,Healthcare Reform, Haiti Earthquake, Flu Season Information, Frequent Bloggers, etc..), it would allow you to read the article, and if you wanted, you could catch up on the entire backstory.

More than this, lets say you’re reading a hard copy of the newspaper and find an interesting article a friend of yours might enjoy.   Scanning the article code could take you directly to the online copy of the article, which you could then forward to a friend. This would also make it much easier to share via Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, etc. These are the kinds of things that will change the way people interact with newspapers, and what may actually save these dinosaurs from extinction.

Where else could these be used? How about in lines at amusement parks? Building a christmas list or wedding registry? Viewing movie previews after seeing a poster or article about it. There seems to be an endless list of how and where these can be used.

Have you seen a clever use of these lately? How do you think they will be leveraged in the near future?

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8 Responses to "Mobile Marketing and How to Make The Barcode Hip Again"

  • Becky
    August 31, 2010 - 2:28 am Reply

    I just downloaded a QR reader because I’m going to be visiting Philly. As part of their “Museum without Walls” (a tour of outdoor art and sculpture installations) you can scan the QR code to launch the appropriate audio description of the statue/art. Very cool! Looking forward to seeing how it works.

    http://museumwithoutwallsaudio.org/smartphone-access/

  • SMS Marketer
    October 3, 2010 - 10:44 am Reply

    The use of mobile marketing is going to become more and more visible in the very near future. I don’t think they have even scratched the surface of what QR codes will be used for.

  • Zsolt
    December 10, 2010 - 3:34 pm Reply

    I think this free tool might be helpful, if you can see the value of QR codes.
    This is my small, yet useful QR Code generator:

    http://www.theqrcodegenerator.com

    Feel free to use it :)

  • Marcus
    December 11, 2010 - 10:06 am Reply

    I stumbled upon a site recently, Youzap.webs.com,

    It allows users to create Personal ID QR codes,as well as QR codes for Flickr images, Facebook Pages, Twitter accounts, Buisness cards, and eBay Products.

    Check it out!!

  • Tampogo Video
    December 18, 2010 - 2:48 am Reply

    As a fellow Detroiter (Madison Heights) I can’t agree more about the Red Wings QR code favorite. QR Codes are still growing rampantly in usage…just check a Google Trends graph for QR code web activity and you’ll see the spike. Also, major stores like Best Buy are putting QR codes all over the inside of their stores. I truly believe that QR codes should be playing a large part in print marketing in particular. If someone is reading your print job that means that you have their attention at that moment. That’s the crucial moment in time when you need to capture their business. And by having a QR code that they can scan at that moment you may be able to give them an extended web marketing message or perhaps even capture their email address at that crucial moment. QR is a great tool in that regard.

  • mobile mass money
    March 16, 2011 - 9:27 am Reply

    considering there are over 4 billion unique mobile users worldwide and that this number continues to increase every year…not to mention the countless millions being spent on news and other “apps”…mobile marketing is definitely the way to go

  • Dirk
    January 3, 2012 - 12:40 am Reply

    QR Codes are old news and quickly becoming a risk. Malware/viruses for mobile devices are on the rise. Since they are appliances completely controlled by the manufacturer and provider(thank you Apple), there isn’t an option for third party security software.
    What’s to stop a vandal from altering your billboard to a code that links the audience’s device to a website that infects it? Or a hacker, redirecting the web link in your code? The answer is nothing.
    Using novelty is great and all, but it relies on fads that pass. Good marketing should be like fashion and pass the test of time.

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