Archive for the ‘QR Code’ Category

If you check-in more than once a week, you need Checkin King.
With one app check-in to Facebook, Foursquare, Google, and Gowalla with Checkin King. Here is what the press is saying about Checkin King:
“Checkin King makes checking in to any or all of those services as easy as one click.” – Phandroid
“How to check in to multiple location services with one click” – CNET
“43 Best New Android Apps” –
Another great way to encourage fans to check in at your establishment is to post a QR Code sticker on your business entrance.  You can order stickers for Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Google Plus, Yelp and more by clicking here

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Chevrolet is attempting to maximize its sponsorship of South by Southwest conference later this month by announcing the integration of three new social media technologies.

Chevy has partnered with Gowalla, a location-based social networking service to let attendees at the show check in and let friends and followers know where they are at any given moment. The auto brand is also rolling out Camaro, Volt and Cruze models with QR codes. Attendees who use their camera phones to photograph the codes will be taken to a dedicated microsite addressing key vehicle features. Finally, Chevy will offer augmented reality in the form of iReveal, an app offering three-dimensional models of various Chevy vehicles.

In a written statement, Christopher Barger, director of global communications and technology for GM, said the use of the applications will go well beyond the show. The QR codes, for instance, could be used to download the price and options for a vehicle on a dealer lot. AR could be used to preview different colors of the Camaro. “We are just scratching the surface of what’s possible with mobile technologies and social media applications,” Barger said.


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A music industry tipping point of sorts arrived for QR (quick response) codes as PepsiCo announced that, through June 26, Taco Bell customers who buy the “Mountain Dew Free Music cup” can scan a QR code on the bottom of the cup to download free music and videos. The downloads will also be available for free, no purchase necessary, via the dedicated download site of Mountain Dew’s surprisingly cool Green Label Sound. They hope to distribute over 60 million cups in the course of this promotion.

Though QR codes for music promotion are apparently old news in Japan, momentum and acceptance seems to be slowly taking hold in the States. Noteworthy efforts have included Odd Future’s appearance on Jimmy Fallon and Lupe Fiasco’s Laser promo in San Francisco’s Union Square facilitated by RedLaser.

Actually, judging from sources like the Tappinn-connected QR Anywhere blog, a lot of experiments by mainstream brands are happening but somehow QR codes still have that edgy feel and that’s why folks can get so worked up about efforts like that of Odd Future. So does all this mean QR codes are coming into their own and it’s time for your music brand to get going?

Yes, absolutely. Smartphone usage in the States continues to grow as “69.5 million people in the U.S. owned smartphones during the three months ending in February 2011, up 13 percent from the preceding three-month period.” Awareness of QR codes among those smartphone owners is considered high though usage certainly lags awareness. And a variety of services are now available for generating and utilizing your own QR code.

In addition to the previously mentioned RedLaser and Tappinn, ShareSquare is available with a QR based music promo platform after a debut at SXSW. You can also create QR codes on bitly, as did Odd Future. Numerous other contenders are also available with more likely to be on the way.

Given that QR codes still have a certain trendy appeal yet are getting a boost into the mainstream by corporations like Pepsico, it appears that now is the time to start sorting out your own use of this promising tool for music marketing.


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Hi everybody! Who else out there uses short URLs when making QR codes that direct to websites? I’m sure a lot of you have come across the tip that writing less information into your codes keeps them simpler and easier to scan, especially at a small size. However, I haven’t seen anyone say ‘*make sure you leave ‘http://’ in front of the URL that you generate your QR code with!*’. Maybe that’s because it seems super obvious – after all, it’s the prefix that allows a URL to be read as a hyper link in the first place. But browsers are changing, and so are QR scanners. I use Google chrome, which did away with the once-ubiquitous prefix altogether. 

So let’s say I want to make a QR code that directs to a web page and I copy the URL from my address bar in Chrome and paste it into any QR generator. Or let’s say I am trying to keep my code small and I shorten my URL at, where ‘http://’ is left off as well (see link section /below/ the generator). Then I test my code with Barcode Scanner and other Android QR readers and it totally works! So I think ‘Great! I don’t even need ‘http://’! That’s 7 less characters in my code!’ Or maybe I don’t even notice I left it off…

Long story short, I’ve done all of the above and I had no idea it was a mistake until I asked a coworker of mine to test some sample QR stickers I had ordered for our company. I’d personally tested lots of readers on my Droid, but she had an iPhone, so I was curious. She downloaded the first free scanner that came up in the iPhone app store,* QR Reader for iPhone*, and it scanned my code as plain text on a notepad, without even the capability to copy and paste it into a browser (p.s. short URLs look REALLY stupid this way)! And I repeat, THIS IS THE FIRST FREE QR SCANNER THAT COMES UP IN THE IPHONE APP STORE, so I imagine it must make up almost half of the scanners in use today. 

She downloaded another one and it worked just fine, but what I learned is that there is still software out there that needs ‘http://’ in order to recognize a link. Most programs fill it in on their own, and I assume that is the direction things are going, but we’re not there yet. So don’t make the same mistake I did and end up potentially losing half of your audience! Double-check that 
http://; is part of your code before you even make it! If someone goes 
to the trouble to scan your code and all they get is “ “,
written on a plain text notepad, I have a feeling you’re not going to 
get the result you want.

Sarah Weis is an artist and Creative Director of i^3 hypermedia, a 
digital production and post-production studio in Chicago.


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At first glance, a QR code looks like some sort of abstract art.

The black and white squiggly lines don’t look like the next big thing in marketing and advertising.

But suddenly the symbols seem to be everywhere in the Triangle – in store windows, on printed advertisements, business cards and Realtors’ signs outside homes for sale.

They’re easy to overlook for those who don’t know what they are. But those in the know are using and exploring this next generation of bar codes.

Short for “quick response codes,” QR codes are meant to be scanned with a smart-phone camera rather than at a cash register. The squiggles connect your phone immediately to additional information about the business – a website, a video or an interactive map, for instance.

Scan the code on a movie poster, and it may take you to the movie trailer. Scan a code at the Gap, and you’re taken to a website about Gap jeans.

For the record: QR codes are not new. They date to the 1990s, but with the proliferation of smart phones, the use of QR codes has exploded.

As awareness spreads, businesses and marketers are racing to figure out how to use the codes to attract shoppers.

“We’re getting all the right things happening in the market right now,” said Mike Wehrs, president of Scanbuy, a N.Y. company that is one of the leading companies in QR code development and management. “It’s growing very rapidly. … It’s not something where you’d say people don’t know what’s going on. But it’s not 100 percent out there yet either.”

Scanbuy’s data shows that QR code generation and usage has increased by 700 percent since January, with the number of scans in the United States increasing from 1,000 to 1,500 a day to 35,000 to 40,000 a day.

Possibilities grow

Many users are just experimenting as they become aware of the codes and what they do.

Andretti Brown is a graphic designer from Raleigh and has just started dabbling in QR codes. He said he noticed them awhile ago but didn’t know what they were. Then he started researching them.

“I call myself a nerd, and I just kind of noticed,” said Brown, 33. “I just kind of wanted to be ahead of the curve. … A lot of my friends are confused about what it is. It’s so young that people don’t really understand what to do with it. But once it starts getting pushed more, then I think it’s going to be a lot better.”

That kind of interest has spurred Best Buy to invest heavily in increasing the availability of QR codes in its stores in time for Christmas shopping.

In May, the retailer ran a QR code in a weekly sales flier that linked to a promotional trailer for the new Super Mario Galaxy 2 video game. The company is now in the process of replacing all of the product tags in stores with tags that include a QR code.

Customers who scan the code are taken to a website where they’ll find consumer reviews and more information about the product. Best Buy began adding the QR codes to product tags in August and is now seeing about 3,000 scans per day from stores.

“The way we look at QR codes is, it kind of gives you a central connection for Best Buy between the physical world and all that’s possible in the digital world,” said Ben Hedrington, director of connected digital solutions for Best Buy.

Businesses branch out

Other companies and businesses are experimenting with QR codes in other ways.

Delta Airlines is using QR codes in conjunction with its iPhone app to let customers check in for flights in almost 30 airports by showing a QR code on their phone, rather than presenting a paper boarding pass.

The N.C. State Fair last month used QR codes to conduct a scavenger hunt.

And real-estate agents such as Cary Re/Max Realtor Beth McKinney are using QR codes to direct passers-by to listing information. McKinney has started placing QR codes on the signs outside homes she has listed for sale. She also has a QR code on her business card.

“Our Y generation is extremely techy, to the point that we’ve discovered that they don’t even pull fliers out of the boxes by houses anymore,” she said. “They just type it into Google or go right to the website. So each one of my listings has a QR code.”

QR code detractions

The biggest drawback to using QR codes is that they require a smart phone.

Estimates vary, but generally it is believed that 25 percent to 33 percent of the U.S. population owns a smart phone, said Michael Becker, North America Managing Director for the Mobile Marketing Association.

Depending on the phone, users may have to download a QR code reader or an app that will allow them to use the codes, though newer phones may have one pre-installed.

“The reality is that they require a scanning app on the phone and many consumers are now just getting used to the smart phone,” he said.

That said, the consumers already using smart phones and QR codes are the ones most valuable to companies: tech-savvy shoppers who have money to spend and don’t mind spending it.

Scott Bowen first noticed the codes on a trip to Manhattan with his wife a few weeks ago.

“We were downtown looking at all the billboards and there was a huge billboard for a video game, and it had a QR code on it,” he said. “That took you to a preview of the game. I thought of that as a very interesting way to get the word out. I’m a technology person, so anything like that I’m interested in.”

So Bowen, who co-founded the Cary group buying site, came home and made a QR code that links to But he’s not ready to deploy a QR code advertising campaign for Twongo yet.

“We’re honestly just playing around with it at this point,” he said. “We don’t know what we’re going to do. … I think the possibilities are ridiculously endless, but how you package it is going to be the demise or success of QR codes.”

Just the beginning

Though QR codes are taking the marketing world by storm at the moment, the possibilities run much deeper for QR codes and the broader category of 2D codes, said Becker of the Mobile Marketing Association.

There are actually almost 40 kinds of codes being used to enable all kinds of new technologies, and as more people buy smart phones, the number of shoppers using the codes will only increase.

Stores could use codes to offer coupons, put your loyalty card information on your smart phone and provide things like contact information and a map all with one scan.

Companies that offer Wi-Fi could embed the log-in and password information into a code that is scanned at the register to make sure the people using their network are actually patrons of their business.

QR codes could also be used to give information about events, sign people up for e-mail lists or trigger an automatic text message to a specified number.

There are even experiments that would make images of certain products behave like bar codes when scanned. For instance, scan a picture of a digital camera, and you would automatically be taken to the page where you could buy that camera.

Others are exploring other options in other fields. McKinney, the Cary real estate agent, made a QR code that takes the user to a page full of information about her husband’s heart condition. She attached the code to his driver’s license so that medical professionals can access his medical records in case he has an emergency.

“At some point this will be commonplace,” Becker said. “Put it on every single point of sale display and every single box in the world, and every consumer will understand what it is and how to use it.”


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QR codes are fast becoming a powerful force in marketing, acting as a connector between the physical world and the web. People see a QR code, scan it, and are suddenly engaged in your message (when you do it right.)

There are plenty of creative ideas for how businesses, non-profits and municipalities can use QR codes to market and communicate themselves better to their stakeholders. Here are 50 that I came up with or stumbled upon.

QR Codes on bus stops, train stations and subway stations: A quick scan would give you real time information on when the next bus, train or subway would arrive.

Posted next to paintings and sculptures at museums. Great for visitors who want to learn more about the artist, the time period, and the reaction to the photo. Could also include links to other work by the artist, related artists, and even the ability to buy the image on a mug or poster at the museum shop.

As part of a personalized direct mail piece. Each QR code can go to a PURL (personalized URL (Uniform Resource Locator)).

On historical sites and on walking trails. Sure, a plaque is fine for grandma, but I’d like to delve deeper, whether with a wikipedia entry, or an video of a local historian explaining the significance of the site.

At video kiosks. QR codes can appear as people interact with your kiosk, whether it’s at the mall or your place of business.

On For Sale signs. Whether residential or commercial, for sale signs could include codes that had all the information a sell sheet includes, plus video walkthroughs.

Email newsletter signups. Build your subscriber base by having quick links to an email signup box.

E-learning. Have your QR code generate an email that starts an autoresponder, sending daily emails filled with lessons and related information.

Next to packaged food in groceries. Give shoppers quick access to recipes that include the ingredients they see on the shelf.

In a jigsaw puzzle. This would create some real engagement as the user would have to put together the puzzle before scanning the image.

On produce. You could include information about the farm, organic vs. conventional growing, best by dates, etc.

Buying coffee (or anything else.)Like Starbucks does.

On bottles of wine. It would be nice to be able to get info about the vineyard, and maybe buy a case of that bottle I enjoyed at the restaurant.

On tags for sustainable clothes. Is that piece of clothing really sustainable? Let’s quickly scan and see it’s story.

For conference signage. Next to the name of the upcoming sessions in each room would be the QR code so you could get the full description, speaker bios, and see if there’s any room left.

On conference name tags. SXSW has been doing this for at least a year or two. Why trade business cards when you can just scan them. Now, don’t you feel all TSA?

Click on the name tag to get yours now

Written in calamari ink on diners’ plates. You can’t make this stuff up.

On jewelry. Examples abound.

As part of interactive maps. Check out this example from Town Graphics.

At the bottom of all newspaper and magazine articles. Then you could quickly get to the online version and see the comments that other readers had left.

On liquor bottles. Linked to drink recipes; this would be especially good for new drinks you’re bringing to market.

On building permits. New York City is already doing this.

On the fliers that you find under your windshield wipers at the mall. One example might be an offer for a car wash; the URL would give you the discount code and directions to the car wash offering the deal.

On the safety bar ads on ski mountain chair lifts. These days, everyone on the mountain seems to have a smart phone, and they’re going to be a captive audience for 5 – 10 minutes, sitting on that chair going up the mountain.

Inside elevators. If I ran a dry cleaning service or something else that helped busy executives out I’d advertise inside elevators in tall buildings. Other good options might include flowers (for spouses left at home with the kids), discounts on take out food, etc.

In bar bathrooms. I often see Home Runners and cab companies advertising above the urinals in bars. (Hey, what can I say? I frequent classy places.) Why not make it easier for patrons to get a safe ride home, rather than drunk dial a wrong number?

Within a video game console to share avatars. Nintendo is already doing just that.

To get more people to sign a petition. Like the one for cleaning up the BP mess.

At bars, clubs and anywhere else music is playing. Sure, Shazam is a great tool for finding music, and often you can even buy the track you discovered at iTunes or Amazon. But in a loud club you may not be able to suss out the song. If a QR code appeared above the DJ’s head, you could quickly scan the code and purchase that new song.

On the backs of tractor trailers. Because “How’s My Driving?” with an 800 number is so last decade.

On wedding invitations instead of RSVP cards. Scan a QR, save a tree. And a stamp.

As a temporary tattoo. Link it to your Facebook profile or Twitter account.

On a laminated card for trade shows. Instead of dropping a business card in a fish bowl. Booths win because they’ll get all the pertinent info, and the event could give away prizes to the people who get scanned the most.

To encourage community feedback. The library in Groton, CT, does just that.

As wallpaper. Well, it’s better than the wallpaper in our bathroom when we moved in to our house.

On the bottom of flip flops. The imprint they make on the beach…until the tide comes in.

On coffee cups from your local coffee shop. Plenty of advertising opportunities here.

On posters linking to free books. 1st Bank is giving away free copies…of these out-of-copyrighted classics. They also have other boards that link to free sudoku.

On a ball field. Have you seen what the groundskeepers can mow into the outfield these days? They’re artists!

On a human billboard. Think “Eat at Joes.”

As wrapping paper. One company is already customizing this with unique videos attached to QR codes.

On trade show booths. Scan a picture, (be entered to) win a free iPod.

On recipes in magazines. Quick link to videos, reviews and feedback at the website.

For self-guided tours at factories. Scan a code, learn what that dohickey does.

Posted on car windows in dealerships. Perfect for after-hour shoppers.

Scratch and Win cards. It’s not enough to have them scratch off the card, make them scan that card to see if they’ve won.

On movie posters. QR code takes them to a preview of the movie.

On cocktail napkins. The code could take networkers to the sponsor’s site, the beverage’s site, or some networking site with photos, so you can connect with people after the event.

In TV ads to make them interactive.

Business cards. ‘Nuff said.

I’m sure this is just the beginning. If you’ve got a great idea for a QR code for marketing or communications, or if you’ve seen something in the wild, please feel free to share it below.


Some resources used for this list:

Lets Hook Up
The phone is quickly becoming an ally to restaurateurs looking to build visibility and customer loyalty — and ultimately drive revenue. This was evident at this year NRA Show 2010, as panels of providers and practitioners shared the merits of our increasingly mobile world. Today, cell phones are used more for data than for calls, and restaurant consumers and employees are no different.
2-D barcodes – Robert Russell, Director, Industry Solutions, Consumer Goods, Retail and Hospitality at AT&T, spoke to NRA Show attendees about the growth in the mobile space — but also about the unique possibilities of 2-D barcodes. Now that most phones are equipped with cameras (read: scanners), adding a bar code to your menu or storefront could provide significant benefits to customers. Add a barcode to your menu and a customer can take the menu and restaurant information with them on their phone. Provide the 2-D barcode on your receipt and give a customer a quick, painless and innovative way to fill out a survey on service, quality, you name it. Exciting stuff — all made available by the innovations of today’s mobile phones.
Text (SMS) Marketing – In Internet years, text message marketing has been around for a while. As the demographics of your “typical texter” has shifted, utilization of this technology has grown significantly. According to Michael Lam, principal at the Mobile Marketing and Text Message Marketing firm Opt-It, the average age of “texter” is now 38 years old. Pair that with a staggering open rate,  97% (according to Lamb) and you’ve got a hyper-effective, opt-in marketing vehicle. With location-based SMS possibilities taking shape, expect a new reality for restaurant marketers. Are your customers nearby? Would they like a special offer delivered to them in real-time?
Apps – The life of the mobile party, applications, have had a particularly significant impact on the restaurant industry. And with good reason. First, they don’t require a browser experience, which is a timely and varied experience depending the phone, platform and connection. An app provides a more intuitive experience, and restaurants/service providers can tailor and update the product offering to the unique needs of the user. Scott Jampol, senior director of consumer marketing at OpenTable said that their mobile apps have generated 3 million dines — equaling $150 million in restaurant revenue. And it’s not just about the consumer. Apps play a role in employee communication and performance. HotSchedules developed mobile apps to manage restaurant labor scheduling, but the usage yielded even more demand. Today, said HotSchedules owner Ray Pawlikowski, they are enhancing the app’s tools to help managers better communicate with employees.
Is it ironic that I use my OpenTable app to make reservations instead of just making the phone call? Perhaps. But the new mobile era is here, and early adopters will reap the rewards. Have you heard of any other ways restaurants are using mobile technologies to find new customers, drive sales or create efficiencies? We’re eager to hear your experiences.

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