Tag Archives: QR codes

Advertising is Dead: Long Live Engagement.

OK, so advertising is not actually ‘dead’; however it’s syntactical position as the exclamation mark or full-stop in a campaign has been usurped by the genuine need to engage and interact with consumers.

It’s interesting to see how different brands, different businesses and different sectors are employing this need to engage with their customers.  This weekend, I visited Tesco as usual to carry out the weekly food shop, when the following piece of in-store signage caught my eye:


This signage struck me for a number of reasons:

i) It blurs the boundaries between the offline shopping experience and online engagement.  Supermarkets have traditionally bombarded us with in-store signage in order to tempt us with special offers and multi-buys.  However, this piece of advertising clearly goes beyond that and considers the shopper long after they have left the store.

ii) The QR code is a nice touch – it allows smartphone users to access more information (and thus, engage more deeply) with the brand right there and then.  My only criticism is that the social media handles are not signposted clearly for those who do not use QR codes – an ‘@Tesco’ for example would allow customers to search specifically when they got home.

iii) There is an opportunity for genuine two-way interaction and engagement – customers are asked to submit their own recipe and get involved with Tesco’s new venture, the Real Food TV show.

iv) The platform on Facebook itself is innovative, dynamic and adds value, offering a place to compile and view recipes.  Not only is this a nice tool in itself, but it offers clear potential for several repeat visits.

v) It ties in with Tesco’s key business – the app details food that is ‘in season’ etc., providing a clear call-to-action for consumers to return back to the store and spend money.

In a previous post, we saw how Facebook’s marketers are talking about the new cycle of social engagement, and this piece of social marketing activity adheres to each step in that cycle:

AWARENESS: In-store signage
INTEREST: Competition mechanic and recipe feature
DECISION: QR codes and social channels visited
ACTION: Interaction with the application online
RECOMMENDATION: The ability to share / tweet tool with friends

Engagement is not solely the preserve of social media channels, as we saw in my recent ‘Social Media is a Budweiser Bottle’ blog post.  Social media undoubtedly acts as the platform in which brands can engage consumers more deeply than ever before, but successful brand engagement is an integrated phenomenon.

And this first-class example from Tesco highlights how the offline and online channels are becoming ever more intertwined.

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QueRying QR codes – THINK

QR codes’ label as marketing’s ‘new’ thing is phenomenally ironic, considering that the technology was invented by a Toyota subsidiary back in 1994 (I was a mere 12 years old at the time.)

However, the advent of smartphones has provided a valid tool for consumers to read these codes, and marketers are subsequently in a fervent clamour to place their communications / branding / information directly into people’s hands – why wouldn’t they be?

On a rare tube trip yesterday, I took the opportunity to take a look at the glut of panel ads that adorn every tube carriage and one for Heathrow caught my eye.

In the corner of the ad was a glinting QR code, with a clear call to action for consumers to scan the code and download information, access offers and continue their interaction with the brand.

In principle, this is a solid idea, utilising the latest technology and prolonging an ad’s effectiveness by continuing the consumer interaction within a smartphone.

In reality?

There’s no reception or internet connectivity when you’re travelling underground, meaning that a huge percentage of your audience will not be able to perform the call-to-action asked by the advertisers.

Although very much in vogue, QR codes still need to offer discernible value to mobile phone users, tailored exclusively for the mobile space and placed in positions / touch points where consumers can act upon them.

For me, tube ads just don’t offer this widely enough.

Do you agree?

QR codes: marketing objectives first, tech second

Prompted by an article from Econsultancy (I’ll post the link at the end, as I want you all to keep reading!) and some recent conversations with colleagues, I felt compelled to jot down my own thoughts regarding the QR code ‘phenomenon’.

Now, of course, I place the word ‘phenomenon’ in inverted commas, because the technology has been around for several years now.  However, what has changed is the fact that more and more consumers are equipped with powerful smartphones, which, coupled with QR codes, can place information and content directly into people’s hands.

Like any new piece of digital technology cited as the ‘next big thing’, I believe that many businesses indulge in a ‘digital gold rush’, running frantically with metaphorical bucket and spade in hand to grab their piece of land.  But what a large percentage of early adopters don’t consider is that, like any aspect of digital technology’, that technology has to align with key marketing objectives.

Digital marketing is the practice of using digital technologies to market a brand / product / service.  Just because a new piece of technology comes along that is branded as a ‘game-changer’, this doesn’t mean that we should change our games.

QR codes are a fantastic way of placing information into people’s hands through smartphones, and for such a cost-effective mechanic, I can see why for many, this is an extremely attractive proposition.  But here are the considerations I believe digital marketers MUST examine if looking at implementing QR codes into their digital strategy:

* Does the content you are linking to ADD VALUE to the customer?
* Does the content / message align with your business objectives?
* Will this alienate consumers who are not digital-savvy / do not have smartphones?
* Will consumers have to change their behaviour to accommodate QR codes, or is it part of their journey?
* Is it easier for consumers to use alternative methods to access this link?

Everyone’s business, brand and service are different.  We all have different business objectives; our target demographics vary.  In 2011, there now exists an absolute plethora of digital technologies and social applications to support our digital marketing objectives.

But as with anything, our marketing objectives remain of paramount importance.  The technology is simply a supporting actor – this needs to be considered thoroughly before assigning elements like QR codes a starring role.

(Want to read the Econsultancy article on effective marketing uses of QR codes?  Scan the QR code at the top of this blog post and you’ll get there…)