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Kayla Schafer

Kayla Schafer Digital Advertising Specialist

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The Black and White Truth About QR Codes

Scan If you Dare.Remember a couple years back when Bluetooth earpieces first came out and you thought people were walking around talking to themselves in public? Eventually - after 3 or 4 times of glaring in a state of confusion - you caught on and now I’m sure it doesn’t even faze you to see someone walking down the street talking out loud for the world to hear. The same goes for QR codes.

Chances are you have been walking around your city and seen them on billboards, busses, bus stops, or while reading a magazine and/or newspaper.  Maybe you scanned them, maybe you didn’t. QR codes are wildly popular in Japan and India. Even though we are still catching on here in the U.S, and saw a 300% increase last year, we have everything we need to be just as hooked, our smart phone.

First Things First, Some Smart Phone Stats

How many times a day do you go on the internet on your smart phone? Probably more than you can guess. Look at your data usage the next time you get your bill. You may be in for a surprise (especially if you have unlimited data and don’t have to think twice about going over).

Almost 100% of U.S. Smartphone users use their devices to go online everyday and 20% have scanned a bar code product. More importantly, 92% of Smartphone users seek local information mostly to find and contact a business. Amazingly, 1 in 5 of those people makes a purchase after looking at local info.

Who’s Using QR Codes?

According to ScanLife, a mobile barcode solutions provider, conducted its annual “Mobile Barcode Trend Report” recently and found the following results. Scans by consumers are up 157% in Q1 2012 over Q1 2011. Android and Apple Operating Systems provide 93% of the total scan traffic. The demo graphic of users are still predominantly males, but female scan usage increased by 8%. The largest proportion of users remains to be 25 to 34 years old.

What Does this Mean for the Auto Industry?

Conversions. Would you really, as a consumer, take the time to scan a code if you weren’t even somewhat interested? I doubt someone would just go around scanning codes all day at random just because they are curious. At Cobalt/ADP, we offer our dealers one free QR Code per month with the Digital Advertising Package subscription to help drive customers/traffic to their mobile optimized websites.

Case Study: DAS AUTO

Volkswagen sought out to prove the effectiveness of QR Codes. To watch their experiment (yes it’s in German, WILLKOMMEN!) visit this link. Now if you are like me and don’t speak a lick of German, I’ll recap what just happened. In Germany, whenever a new model is released, they camouflage it and drive it around to create consumer interest via the Press. VW had the bright idea to wrap their new model in a QR Code vehicle wrap a week before the photos were unveiled and drive it around ‘the Deutschland.' They paired the campaign with social media like Facebook, blogs and so forth.

THE RESULTS:  5,500+ people scanned the QR. Was it successful?

While it certainly was a viral success, is it going to sell cars? Share your thoughts below.


Kayla Schafer, Digital Advertising Specialist, has worked in digital for the past 4 years. Her specialties include social media, search engine marketing and account management. Kayla's first car was a 1982 Datsun 280Z Turbo, 5 speed, color red.

Kayla Schafer
Thanks for your comment Jim. I am writing another "edition" to piggy back on this article on the importance of landing pages with QR Codes as well as some do's and don'ts. I can't speak to your code obviously, but the research that has been done shows that you are absolutely right, most people aren't sure what to do with them. Therefore the landing page should have 1 clear call to action, such as watch a video, submit something online etc. You've created all this build up around the code so make sure it was worth it to the user. If the user asks for the Statue of Liberty, don't land them in the middle of New York City.
Tyson Gamblin
The reason why we put QR codes on our vehicles is actually not for the scan but it is a good conversation piece for our sales people to have with guest. 95% of the time we have to educate people on what to do with a QR code. People may see them all around but if they don't know what they mean it is difficult to really see results on them
Katherine F.
A helpful tip for educating your clientele is to say "Scan this QR code with your phone" or something to that effect. A little education can go a long way in legitimizing yourself with the public; demonstrating your technological savvy gives you more street cred. And though QR codes MAY be a temporary thing, the stats mentioned above and the speed at which smartphones are being adopted by the public indicate that, for now, the trend is our friend.
Kayla Schafer
@Tyson That is a great idea! Way to help educate your customers and community.
Jeremy Alicandri
I was at a conference at Google about 3 weeks ago. The head of Google Mobile, implied that QR codes are way overrated.

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