Mobile marketers are rapidly catching on to quick response barcodes

Monday 10th January 2011   by Stuart Bickerton

In between numerous episodes of CSI (my guilty pleasure of the moment), I’ve been watching Delia Smith talking about posh pastry on behalf of Waitrose.

Given their strong corporate ID I had a bit of a moment when I saw a large jagged box on the TV, writes Lindsay Crayton, Senior Creative at matm, the marketing, graphic and web design, web development, PR agency at Jackfield, near Telford in Shropshire.

It took me back to a conversation I had with a colleague sometime ago about these ‘boxes’, it went something along the lines of:

Me: Stuart take a look at this!

Stuart: What is it?

Me: A bar code that you can scan in using your mobile phone, it can hold information like a web address or text.

Stuart: Eyes have glazed over…

Moving swiftly on, a bit of research found these boxes to be called QR codes, QR being Quick Response.

They were originally developed, as long ago as 1994, by Denso-Wave in Japan for tracking car parts for Toyota. The main objective was that they could be read at high speed from any angle.

The QR-Code carries information horizontally and vertically whereas a standard barcode contains data only in one direction.

Also, a standard bar code can only hold 20 digits but a QR code can hold more than 7,000 and can be made to be a fraction of the size (approximately one-tenth) so less room taken up on packaging.

Companies are now increasingly using the technology to market products and services via mobile phones.

Pepsi using a QR code on a promotional billboard. It helps that the code looks arty and intriguing

A smart phone with a camera and decoding software can be used to capture and read the information on a QR code – whether it appears on the TV, billboard, in a magazine advert or on a t-shirt. The process of is called mobile tagging, while the the specific act of linking from a physical object is called physical world hyperlinking.

You can also create your own QR codes using free software. The social media site Mashable recently explained how to do it.

Facebook has a dedicated QR-Code page with lots of creative and business uses. It’s also finding its way into the art world.

An edible and scannable waffle created at NYC Resistor in 2010

I wasn’t able to scan the QR-code on the TV, I have an older phone, but if anyone else has I’d love to know…