What’s a QR Code and Why Should I Care?

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QR stands for “quick response” and marketers always care about response time. QR codes are essentially bar codes that mobile phones can scan to allow the user to access information such as URLs; thus bridging the gap between the real world and the virtual. The technology to enable your phone is free and can be downloaded in a number of places such as Kaywa.  (List of phones Kaywa covers here.)

Have you seen an graphic like this? This is a QR code. Not very artful until recently when Takashi Murakami collaborated with Louis Vuitton, creating a custom QR code.

I posted about mobile discovery a while back and QR codes fit nicely into this concept. As mobile phones become more data driven (in the states), they’ll become more of an extension of ourselves. Some examples of how businesses could use QR codes are:

  • A business could print out QR code stickers (or a patch like this) and place them in various locations where they believe their target market spends time and then watch for online traffic generated from each location to get a sense of which venues they should sponsor.
  • A business could placed a print ad (yes; I said print) in a magazine and then track how many users came to that landing page and where they went from their.

They have been used in Japan for many years (what a shock!) and more recently in Europe. Mini is a recent example of a business utilizing this technology.  Below is a video of how artists in Europe are using QR codes.


I believe the continuing evolution of the iPhone as the premire mobile data tool (along with Android) will help drive QR code useage in the states. I’d love it see it here and think that this technology along with GE’s video technology (amazing video) could help bridge the real world to the online world. Maybe that’s where the real convergence is?

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I'm an Associate Teaching Professor of Digital Marketing at the Daniels College of Business, University of Denver. I also consult with startups and established brands. I'm currently focused on artificial intelligence, cognitive neuroscience and culture. I am married to an amazing woman and have two incredible children. I was raised in Colorado and spend my free time with family, biking, snowboarding and going to the Pacific Ocean to SCUBA dive and/or surf. I'm passionate about architecture, design, street art, photography and the art that tattooing has evolved into.

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