Archive for the ‘Advertising’ Category

Our clothing sales have started to rocket, as tech savvy youth get to grips with QR Codes and Social Media.  Wearing your Facebook profile and expanding your Friend network whilst out and about has to be the coolest ‘must have’ fashion accessory out there at the moment.

Our mission from day one has been to create consumer awareness of QR Codes through their use in mainstream advertising, in the hope that as consumers understand QR tech, they will join the QR revolution and wear their Codes with pride.  This has started to become a reality in the UK over the past couple of months, as brands rush to bring their offline advertising to life with QR Codes.

Outside of Japan, the UK seems to be leading the way in terms of QR Code use in advertising.  We’re sure we’ll be corrected for that statement, but we are, without doubt, witnessing an explosion in use of these amazing bar codes in the UK.

A typical London newspaper now has an abundance of ads with QR Codes on them each day.  Yes, there are problems with some of these ads in terms of content and code image reproduction, but seeing so many in the wild has brought a feeling of pride to our team members.  We have been advocating the use of QR Codes to mainstream advertisers and their agencies for over a year now, all of which have been bold over by their potential.

It’s a channel that will continue to grow and mature as time goes by – certainly until we uncover the next technology that has such widespread appeal to out of home advertisers.

This week has been a particularly great one for QR Codes in the UK, with London’s two main free newspapers quite literally packed with ads displaying QR Codes – check out the slideshow below to catch a glimpse of just some of them.

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We’d love to hear from you if you have any comments about these ads.  Get interactive with them and drop us your comments in this post.  We’re sure the advertisers themselves would appreciate some real consumer feedback, so don’t hold back – post your comment… good or bad!

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London’s free newspaper, the Evening Standard, has been littered with QR Codes this week.  The Wednesday West End Final edition had no less than 6 ads which carried a QR Code.

We will be reviewing a number of these ads shortly, but before we do, we thought we share one in particular which caught our attention – unfortunately not for the right reasons though.

Believe it or not the ad image above is the actual size that appeared in the paper.  The QR Code positioned bottom right (in case you can’t see it) measures 0.8cm sq..

London’s free newspapers readership profile is heavily biased towards the 1,000,000 people who commute into London each day.  These papers are read on crowded trains and on the cattle truck known as the London Underground.  Using QR Codes in press advertising to deliver online content is a complete no brainer for advertisers, but they have to understand the situation where the ads are viewed and codes are scanned.  Advertisers should also understand that news print ad reproduction has its issues – it’s news paper after all, not a 150gsm matt coated paper!  You just don’t have time to place the ad on a stable surface, focus your phone camera on a microscopic QR Code and patiently wait for the image to be recognised by your QR Code reader.  The process has to be as simple as possible for the reader – don’t make it any harder than it need be..

Here are just a few of the rules advertisers should consider when using QR Codes in press advertising:

  1. Reproduce the QR Code image at a sensible size
  2. Minimise the data content within the code to improve the scanning process
  3. Do not ignore the ‘clear zone’ border of the code
  4. Test the scanning process on the substrate it will be printed on
  5. Put yourself in the shoes of the consumer and consider the environment your code is likely to be scanned in

Below is an example of how your QR Code should look – OK, it’s actually a blatant mobile ad for our Facebook Page, but what the hell, give it a scan and give us a ‘LIKE’…

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Our QRazy Boss has been jumping around the office today, spitting and swearing in absolute despair… all because of an ad that appeared in last night’s Evening Standard (London Free Paper).  He really is upset and just left the office, still swearing at the top of his voice and heard saying that was heading to the local bar to drown his sorrows..

We have therefore decided, as partial therapy for him, to name and shame the company involved and would beg them or their ad agency to get in touch, so we can at least give them some pointers for the future.

The ad in question is for IG Index, a London based Spread Betting business.  As you’ll see from the ad below, they have wisely decided to promote their mobile apps using what is supposed to be a QR Code.

Our initial thoughts when seeing the image in the bottom right hand corner of the ad, were positive.  An ad promoting a mobile app download with a cool looking QR Code to simplify the download process – great!  Well not quite…  This bastsardized version of a QR Code does NOT scan!

Someone has obviously managed to get the design to read, but not only didn’t it work for our QRazy Boss, none of us in the office have managed to get a successful scan from it either.  We used iPhones, Androids and even a Blackberry that was lurking in desk draw.

So, the questions are; why did IG Index change the design of the QR Code in the first place?  Why was the design not thoroughly tested across a range of phone types and readers?  And finally, does the person who signed this ad off still have a job?

Could it be that the client approved a piece of shiny artwork and did not consider how it might be reproduced on newspaper?  Surely, the agency in question would have thought of that…?

It seems almost trivial to report, that having typed the URL in your mobile browser using our sausage fingers, we were then directed to the app store URL for our handset – well done to the client’s backroom web team for a nice use of phone sniffing.

We’re hoping that after reading this post with the aid of a couple of pints, our esteemed leader will return in a better mood and get on with what has been so far, a fantastic week for the QRazystuff team!

We are always happy to give some free advice to clients wishing to use QR Codes in advertising.  To get in touch, scan this QR Code to give us a call.

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We all know that there are a million and one uses for QR Codes in today’s ‘on the move’ world, but one that has fascinated us for a while has been the use of QR Codes in Press Advertising.  A complete ‘no brainer’ for advertisers to utilise the space of a postage stamp on their press ads to add another dimension to their advertising…

Of course, it’s easy to create a QR Code and link it to your online content, but what we are seeing from the world of advertising is little, if any, thought being given to the user experience following a scan from these QR Codes. Some are getting it right, but others (and far too many) are not.

If this lack of User Consideration continues, we will see consumers turning off this unique form of engagement.  It’s not difficult to implement a good campaign, you’ve just got to start putting yourself in the shoes of the mobile consumer.

QR Codes have a certain mystic attached to them at the moment.  People are inquisitive, possibly excited about what might be behind the code – a rewarding experience perhaps?

If our content fails to live up to the consumers expectation, will they turn off altogether?  A rather somber comment, but if we continue to deliver dull, unimaginative content – or worse still, content that’s impossible to interact with on a mobile device, we stand a good chance of killing this medium off before it’s had a chance to reach its potential..

We regularly hear QR Code Mavericks preaching about mobilizing your content.  Whilst this is of course essential, it should also just be a case of ‘common sense’ that you don’t deliver content to a mobile device which is impossible to interact with.  Given we are delivering content optimised for the mobile, it’s now down to providing engaging, imaginative content which rewards the scanning process and leaves the consumer wanting more!

With this in mind, let’s see what a typical day of advertising in a major UK Free Newspaper with a circulation of in excess of 1.36m & an estimated 3.3m readers has to offer in terms of hope for the humble QR Code.

The following are ads all appeared in the London edition of the Metro on 9th June 2011.

1.  University of Westminster

Not a great start I’m afraid…  Nice use of colour within the QR Code in this ad, but that’s where the positives end.

No explanation where the code might be taking you and no instruction either.  The lack of content explanation is typical of what we fear about consumers feeling well and truly let down following a scan of a code like this.  It could resolve to something cool, exciting and rewarding..  but then again it could resolve to a worthless experience and leave the viewer feeling disappointed and disillusioned with the brand.

The result…. A pointless use of a QR Code to deliver a dull & uninspiring desktop web site.

Marketers are a secretive bunch, especially when it comes to sharing campaign results..  Not so for those of you using QR Codes – as we can all see your results:

2.  Co-operative Foods

Next up is a 1/2 page ad for The co-operative (UK Supermarket chain).  Before we look at the use of the QR Code in this ad, we would like to credit the creative in this ad, which followed through to the web site. If it’s part of a new look to The co-op, then well done – the brand needed a make-over.

A lot of what we covered in the University of Westminster review has been repeated again here.

No user instruction, No clue as to what is behind the code – just thrown on the artwork as an after thought?  Almost inevitability we end up landing on their desktop web site page!

What exactly was the purpose of the QR Code on this ad?  The ad promoted the web site, yet the QR Code resolved to – a desktop web site, which might look nice, but is impossible to interact with on a mobile device.

Oh… and they used for the code – so here are their results.

3.  David Lloyd

Should we be a bit more forgiving to David Lloyd as we are fast approaching Wimbledon this year?  To be honest, he wasn’t a world class Tennis player, but he has made a success out of the fitness mad Brits.  This brand like the others doesn’t want you to know where the code will take you, nor do they want to help educate consumers how they need to interact with a QR Code.  So, they leave it to the imagination of the consumer – a dangerous game, as we consumers are highly imaginative and easily let down.

Would the QR Code reveal an exclusive offer, or reward for the scan?  Possibly, some cool video promoting the benefits of membership or even an app download to help us stay fit whilst on the move?

Afraid not…  You guessed it, the QR Code resolved to – a standard desktop web site – such disappointment!

4.  O2 Guru

This has been a long wait…  A UK Mobile business finally catching on to the use of QR Codes in advertising.  Congratulations O2 you are the first we are aware of (please correct this statement if need be within the comments section of this post).

There’s something about the placement of the QR Code within this ad, which indicates this was a complete after-thought and probably added at the last minute, much to the annoyance of the creative team.  QR Codes can and should be used as an integral part of a creative concept – why not bring them into the ad and promote another dimension to your press ad?

The ad doesn’t tell us what to expect when we scan the QR Code, nor does it give us any instruction how to interact with it, or for that matter what that Black and White Matrix thing actually is..  Some of this has been left down to the continuous promotion of QR Codes by the host newspaper.  Wouldn’t you have liked to know where you’re going as the result of the scan?

Surely a major player in the Mobile world would provide some relevant content behind the QR Code scan…

Well they did, a good quality mobile site and even a mention of using QR Codes on our Android phone!  The mobile site could have done with a ‘reward’ of some sort. We’re not with O2, but thinking about how they might deal with prospective customers from a QR Code visit, we could have started with an integrated Facebook Like to help kick start the engagement process – just a thought…

5.  Debenhams

Before we start to review the Debenhams ad, we have to declare an interest in this one..  We were approached by an existing client a while ago, who asked whether it would be possible to create a QR Code service which recognised the scanning phone’s operating system and then redirected the scan to the client’s app download within the relevant App Store (iTunes, Android Market, Ovi, Blackberry etc)…  We were nearing the final roll out of this service when we opened discussions with Debenhams. Within a couple of days we went live with the new solution now fully integrated into the QRtag platform

Debenhams are just one of many brands that have been looking for a solution that will allow them to promote their multi-platform smartphone apps.  They had already experimented with QR Codes and understood the power of QR Codes in offline advertising.

It’s clear from the ad what’s on offer if you scan the QR Code – it’s an ‘honest’ Code – no mystic, it’s what you see is what you get.

But then then the beauty of the experience reaches a new level – the scan delivers exactly the content it promised – resolving right to the app download in my phone’s app store!  In this case, the Debenhams Android app..  The QR Code also supported an iiTunes & Ovi download, with unsupported phone types redirecting to the Debenhams Home Page (OK, it was lacking a mobile touch..)

So all in all, not a great day for QR Codes in UK Press Advertising, but there is a ray of hope in amongst those in the early adopter learning process.  Great content needs creative thought, which in some cases can be facilitated by innovative back-end systems – often neglected the lime-light it deserves.

Over recent months, we have been quietly rolling out our QR Code Ad Management Platform – QRtag to a select number of the UK’s Blue Chip brands. Channelled through our Managed Service, we have created, tracked and analysed literally 100’s of thousands QR Code scans over the past few months.

Our Codes have appeared all over the place from full page press ads in the national newspapers to appearing on 1 million Drinks cans.  We’ve supported everyone from Music Festival organisers to App Developers, so if you are considering using QR Codes as part of your ad strategy – please get in touch.  Meantime, remember to empathize with your target audience and give mobile the respect it deserves.

If you’re interested in having a chat, give this QR Code a scan to give me a call!

To visit QRtag – click here

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At the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas recently, WPP chief executive, Martin Sorrell, told a packed audience that mobile advertising has become the most important trend in the industry, thanks to the exponential growth of internet-enabled mobile phones which are key to the industry’s future.

This statement, from one of today’s greatest advertising minds, reinforces the need for those in the offline advertising markets to consider their future business models and evaluate how best to engage with the change in the populations use of mobile technology.

Those in the offline advertising arena are being challenged to come up with creative means for adding another dimension to the once one dimensional media of print.  Whilst printed media will always have a role to play in advertising, consumers are demanding content that engages with their online lifestyles.  There are 5,000,000,000 Mobile handsets in the world today[i] of which 39% are internet enabled[ii]..  This figure is predicted to grow at a phenomenal rate over the next few years, as churn of standard mobile phones is replaced by today’s modern smartphone.

The tech-savvy Japanese market are way ahead of the curve with this challenge and have been using 2 dimensional barcodes on printed media for a number of years.  You will see 2d Barcodes all over Japan, anywhere from food packaging, newspapers, T-Shirts to 48 sheet billboards.  They have even appeared on building facades.  These barcodes are read/scanned using any internet enabled mobile phone with an on-board camera and once scanned; launch the handsets web browser to deliver media rich online content.  Here lies another dimension for print media…

As the US and European markets catch up with mobile handset technology with advent of smartphones such as the iPhone, Blackberry and Android phones, which are now replacing the standard handset in these areas, we too can now bring printed media to life and deliver the immense mass of online content to the mobile consumer.

Imagine, being able to link online content to a piece of POS, or a Press Ad..  What about personalised Direct Mail?  All of these examples are now possible by simply adding a 2d barcode to your print media and delivering media rich, up to the minute content instantaneously to the consumers’ channel of choice – Mobile.

The most popular form of 2d barcode being used in this emerging market is the Quick Response Code, or QR Code as it is better known.  Originally developed for tracking car parts around the Toyota manufacturing operations in Japan in 1994, the QR code is now being used by global advertising brands to deliver mobile content from offline media.  Whilst the technology is not new, the delivery points are and are destined to become common place in today’s mobile market.

QR Codes can be encoded to contain vCards, VEvents, SMS Messages, Geo Location data, Email messages, Text based content and of course URLs.  As the technology has grown from within the underworld Open Source community, we are now starting to see new and innovative ways in which these amazing barcodes are starting to be used.  In recent months, we have witnessed QR Codes being used for interactions like; Instant Charitable donation giving, Social Media Check-in’s and connection exchanges.  Most recently, pURLs have been embedded within QR Codes for the ultra-personalised mobile experience. We have even seen them appearing on clothing and toilet rolls…

We are not from the stable that believes printed media is on the way out – in fact far from it.  But, Print Media does need that 2nd dimension to really engage with today’s tech-savvy consumer and QR Codes may well be the means to achieve this.

Another major feature of QR Code marketing is the ability to track and analyse consumer engagement with your print media advertising.  Free online services like QRtag provide you with the ability to not only generate your own QR Codes, but also track scan interactions, along with providing you with an amazing array of scan analytics on location, handset and media usage.  Totally aligned to today’s world of measureable advertising, QR Codes will stand up and be counted as part of advertising’s ROI measurement!

To join the QR Code revolution, simply download a QR Code reader app to your Mobile – Text the word i-nigma to: 07797882325. You will receive back an SMS containing a link to the i-nigma software download site – the rest is simple.  I-Nigma is just one of literally hundreds of free mobile bar code scanning apps available across, iPhone, Android, Windows, Blackberry and Symbian app marketplaces.  If you don’t have a smartphone, don’t worry, i-nigma will work on any mobile phone that has a camera and web browser installed.

Here are a few examples for you to play with..  Simply scan the QRazyCodes below and see where the QR journey takes you:

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There is a wealth of additional content available online about QR Codes – why not start with checking out the links below.  The authors of this article regularly publish information rich content via Social Media platforms – a great place to gain knowledge from today’s online world:

Free Online Generator and Analytics Platform





Clothing Web Site

Author:  Martin Rides, CEO, &

QR Code Consultants

Heralded by many as the year that QR Codes would break into the mainstream, QR Codes did leave a mark on UK advertising in 2010, albeit, not the impact some of us were hoping for though.  For fear of claiming 2011 will be the year of the QR Code, we’ll simply review in this post some of the big UK brands that experimented with these amazing codes as part of their mobile marketing strategy in 2010, whilst evaluating some of the issues we have witnessed with using QR Codes in their infancy.

The following list is in no particular order and has been compiled with the help of Roger Smolski’s truly brilliant online bible of 2d Codes use –

1. Debenhams

Like so many brands experimenting with the use of QR Codes in marketing, Debenhams, whilst brave and innovative, made some fundamental mistakes with the first use of QR Codes in brand advertising.

We caught our first glimpse of their QR Codes, from a sighting in Leeds, UK.  A number of Debenhams UK high street stores used Point of Sale (POS) displays in-store which displayed large, complex QR Codes, which once scanned resolved to a text based message offering a free coffee for anyone that took the message to the cashier.  The purpose behind the QR Code ads were to assist the launch of the Debenhams iPhone app, which also contains its own Barcode scanning device.  This initial promotion using QR Codes, highlighted three issues, namely; the fact that Debenhams tried to condense 213 characters of text into their QR Code which made it extremely difficult to scan, secondly they had no form of tracking enabled on the Codes and could therefore not evaluate the effectiveness of the campaign and thirdly assumed only those people who had downloaded their iPhone app, would be scanning the Code..

This train of thought has unfortunately followed throughout their use of QR Codes.  In their latest press campaign, QR Codes played a prominent part in the creative, but alas, these codes are now officially reserved for iPhone users only and out of this small group, only those with the Debenhams app installed could scan the codes.

We know the marketing team at Debenhams will address some of these issues in time and will of course open up their QR Code strategy to the wider world of Internet enabled mobile devices, but let’s just hope their initial foray into using 2d Codes will not put them off in the long term.

2. John Lewis & Waitrose

Now, if there is one brand the QRazystuff Team adore, it has to be John Lewis and especially their Supermarket brand – Waitrose.  It oozes style, quality and a pristine image.  So we were especially excited to see John Lewis & Waitrose enter the world of QR Code advertising in 2010.

Waitrose had us glued to the TV during November last year, when they used QR Codes to tail their Christmas TV campaign.  Whilst QR does stand for ‘Quick Response’, viewers would have needed to be as quick off the mark as the Wild West’s Sundance Kid to capture the QR Code Waitrose displayed in their Xmas TVads.  The Waitrose QR Code appeared quite literally for 2-3 seconds at the end of the TV ad, giving viewers 1 second to locate their phone, 1 second to load their Reader app and if lucky, a second to focus and snap the code.  Alas, we have been unable to find anyone who was quick enough to do this whilst the ad was screened live.  Only those with Sky+ who decided to record this momentous event managed to pause the screen and snap the Code.

Luckily for those who don’t have Sky+, we saw Waitrose continue to run QR Codes throughout all of their pre-Xmas press advertising.  The only disappointment was the lack of imagination when it came to the content.  OK, the Waitrose iPhone and Android app the QR Code downloaded was an app masterpiece, but so much more could have been done with the content – recipe downloads, ‘how to’ video content or even a bit of Heston or Deila working their magic in the kitchen.

Waitrose Parent, John Lewis probably lead the mobile marketing strategy for the group and like Waitrose used QR Codes at the heart of the offline advertising strategy.  John Lewis is not known for being particularly adventurous with their advertising, but have always upheld a superior brand image, renowned the world over.

Whilst browsing one of London’s free newspapers in December, we came across a rash of QR Codes on a number of full page ads, one of which was for John Lewis themselves.  They had given some thought to the content and revealed a stunning Mobile site behind the Code that appeared on their ads.  We thought at the time that one of the UK’s big brands really had ‘got it’ and this might well lead to QR Codes finally hitting the mainstream, lead by a Top 5 UK Brand.  Obviously, only time will tell if this will be true or not, but we live in hope that John Lewis will continue to support QR Code tech during 2011 and beyond.

With the imminent launch of our QR Code generation, tracking and analysis tool – QRtag, we will be helping the likes of John Lewis properly evaluate their use of QR Codes in advertising, which many newcomers to QR Codes are yet to discover!  Not ones to be cynical, but could it be that the above-the-line ad agencies are scared of having measurement tools applied to their advertising?

3. Aldi Supermarket

Aldi services a completely different market to the likes of Waitrose, but within the same newspaper we spotted the John Lewis ad, we also found a full page ad from Aldi, promoting the Medion Multi-Media PC.  This ad may well have been influenced and probably partly funded by Medion, but it did receive high street recognition using the Aldi brand.

We can’t say much about this campaign I’m afraid, as the QR Code content has now been removed, so we’re all experiencing that disappointing 404 experience.  However, the code originally resolved to a desktop web site, severely lacking for the mobile experience.

We’re also puzzled at who thought that slapping the Medion Logo across the middle of the QR Code was in any way creative.  Our QRazyKids could have worked out a more creative use of a QR Code in Paint!

4. Wilkinson Sword

Having been brought up as a dry shave family (including Mrs QRazystuff), we’re not often seen browsing the shelves for wet shave products like the Wilkinson Sword Hydro Razor 5, especially Tesco shelves (note, our preference for Waitrose above).  So, thanks once again has to go to Roger Smolski and his intrepid band of QR Code spotters for this one.  As quoted in Roger’s Blog, “Wilkinson Sword’s announced that QR Codes would be part of their £20 million campaign for the new Hydro Razor 5 in the UK. The first appearance, on a product display in Tesco’s, has been captured on camera by a reader (image below). The QR Code resolves to a mobile site with videos that show the Hydro Razor 5 in action and the chance to enter a prize draw.” The mobile site is still live, so why not check it our by scanning the code below – it’s everything a good QR Code scanning experience should be; good quality content, optimised for the mobile viewing experience.  Also great to see the ad offering multiple mobile response channels (SMS & QR) too!

5. Labrinth – Syco Music

Our QR claim to fame for 2010 has to be the discovery of the UK’s latest pop sensation – Labrinth and his amazingly creative use of QR Codes in firstly building his brand and subsequently delivering some brilliant content to his fans via QR Codes and the mobile channel.

We have written a couple of 2010 posts about Labrinth and the team behind his brand and entrée into the UK music scene, which can be read here –

Building a Music Brand Using QR Codes

Labrinth Goes Wild with Urban QR Code Campaign

6. Liberal Democrats

The highlight of the year for some in the UK (but not many) was the country’s general election.  It wasn’t the most exciting event for the QRazystuff team, but did spark one imaginative political campaign by Martin Tod, the Liberal Democrat MP for Winchester. Embracing Social Media and QR Codes allowed Mr Tod to drive traffic to his Blog through Twitter and the use of QR Codes on print media, kindly donated by the UK tax payer.

It’s probably true to say that the use of QR Codes on Mr Tod’s election posters didn’t win him a single vote, but he has to be applauded for embracing Social Media and running a slick election campaign.  Best of all, he’s an honorary member of the QRazyClub for his use of QR Codes in the 2010 UK General Election!

7. Metro Newspapers

Perhaps its something to do with the number of times we venture into our capital city (commuting by train) that has brought so many press ads carrying QR Codes to our attention, or maybe, we are just the standard punter demanding newspapers deliver another dimension to our daily readership?  Either way, we have witnessed a marked increase in the number of ads in London’s free newspapers that now carry QR Codes as a response mechanism.

One such newspaper, The Metro, continues to run full, 1/2 and 1/4 page ads (no doubt limited to how much empty space they left at the time of going to press) each of which carries a QR Code as a central feature of their app download ads.  Ok, so it’s another bland and boring use of QR Codes for downloading apps, but this could be the start of how this newspaper in particular might exploit the use of QR Codes for their advertisers.  To us, it’s simple… QRtag is a new QR Code and Microsoft Tag advertising platform designed for the multi user environment.  We can deliver multi format Code/Tag generation, whilst providing full scan metrics and subsequent social media interaction analysis.  Offer this as a white labelled solution to the newspaper owners and they then have a self serve 2d Barcode ad platform for all of their titles.  Hacks – Get in touch or let’s meet in a Fleet Street wine bar when you are ready guys!

8. Channel 4 TV – Little Big Brother

We have previously posted about Numbers 8 & 9 of the top 10, which both came from UK TV series.  Not quite the channel we would expect to use QR Codes, but given their intriguing qualities, perhaps this is a good channel for them..

Big Brother Little Brother, used QR Codes on screen throughout the final series, teasing viewers with additional ‘secret’ content only available from the show’s QR Codes.  Read the original post here

Big Brother Little Brother Secret QR Code Message

9.  ITV2 – The Only Way is Essex

We all love mass exposure for QR Codes, but we are stunned when earlier in the year, one of the UK’s top TV Channels (Channel 4) launch their latest series – The Only Way is Essex, using QR Codes to tease and tantilise the audience.  These codes have continued to make appearances on both The Only Way is Essex which will continue to run throughout 2011.  Read the original post here

10.  British Library

The final entry in this year’s UK Top 10 QR Code Advertisers goes to the British Library.  Again during one of our many trips to London, this one was spotted on the platform of Bank Underground station.

Research tells us that the platform is actually 61 meters underground and unlike some underground train services, London has NO internet service! Media placement has to be an integral part of any advertising campaign and this particular campaign failed beyond belief not just because of the fact that the QR Code resolved to a Desktop Website, but also because of the physical position of the QR Code itself.  When you view platform based posters, they sit approximately 15cm from the platform floor itself, which is usually dirty and generally not somewhere you’d want to lie down to snap a pic of a QR Code, no matter how compelling the creative or copy!  So, if you were willing to lie on a dirty platform, make a complete fool of yourself, snap a camera shot of a funny looking matrix like bar code, curse about not being able to get an internet signal, then maybe this ad is better than we give it credit for.  However, we doubt it..

We appreciate there are a number of negatives raised in this post, but whilst it has been a good year for QR Codes in the UK, we’ve still got a long way to go.  We hear too often that global brands don’t need any help with QR Codes, after all, “all you need to do is download a QR Code from the web, slap it on an ad – job done….”

When QR Codes are used properly and the issues raised above are countered, they have the potential to deliver stunning, engaging and valuable content to an audience which is going through a growth explosion.  Mobile is the future, so let’s all make a New Year’s resolution and agree to treat delivery channels like QR Codes with some respect and consider content and delivery in the same way as you would any other form of advertising.

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As QR Codes start to make an impression on the world of marketing, we are witnessing a number of people developing some truly innovative uses for the humble QR Code.  In this post, we feature two of the best applications that we’ve come across from the QR community over the past couple of months.  It’s becoming very clear that as companies and entrepreneurs wake up to the potential to link the physical to digital in a mobile environment, there’s a stampede towards developing innovative ways to apply QR Code technology.  The applications we look at in this post are really just the beginning of what will come as QR Codes hit the mainstream.

X Marks the Spot from Terence Eden

Location Based Services (LBS) are all the rage at the moment and are likely to continue to grow as the ‘check in world’ spreads through the likes of Facebook Places.  The problem, which Terence has tackled head on, is that there are a number of LBS products out in the wild, all of which require you to fire up a proprietary app on your smartphone to enable you to check-in.  Before Facebook Places was launched, the likes of FoursquareGowalla and Rummble already had a massive and active fan base.  These are loyal fans and actually the number of sign up’s to Foursquare and Gowalla has continued to grow even in the countries where Facebook Places has been launched. What this means is that we are unlikely to see a Facebook monopoly when it comes to Location Check-Ins – what we will see is the likes of Foursquare, Gowalla, Rummble and many others happily co-existing in the LBS world.  Not only that, but many people are known to support more than one LBS, so the thought of opening up multiple apps and performing a check in for each is not a great user experience.

The solution Terence has been working on ‘X Marks the Spot‘ (a much better product name than Gowalla by the way), removes the need for multiple apps for a LBS check-in.   The XMTS check in process centres around the use of a location specific QR Code, which once scanned will take you to a Mobile Site with each of the LBS services for that location listed on the landing page.  It’s then a simple process of selecting the LBS you want to check in with and hey presto – check in complete!

As a proof of concept, here’s the XMTS QR Code for the HQ which Terence kindly produced for us.

Here’s the presentation for X Marks the Spot Terence delivered to BarCamp Brighton 5 in October of this year.  You can also download the audio to accompany the presentation here

Terence is at the forefront of the UK’s evolving Mobile Tech industry and has been working in the world of QR Codes for sometime.  He’s an active blogger and someone you should definitely connect with.  Follow him on Twitter and don’t forget to sign up to his Blog as well.

Facebook LIKES from

With just cause, Marketers are obsessed with generating traffic to their Social Media sites.  It’s a no-brainer that Social Media not only influences purchases, but can also have a significant impact on brand perception.  This and no doubt many other factors have created a desire to drive brands to the likes of Facebook & Twitter in their droves.

Word of Mouth is recognised as the most powerful form of marketing.  In Social Media, the closest you can get to a personal recommendation is probably a Facebook LIKE for a brand.  When you LIKE a page, you are telling your friends and potentially their friends, that this is a Page/Brand that you are happy with and want to share with the world – a marketers dream!

The vast majority of Facebook LIKE actions are currently done whilst someone is sitting in front of their PC (supposed to be working), but what happens when you are out and about and see something or come across a brand you want to connect with or just shout about on Facebook?   As the world becomes more mobile, the ability to LIKE ‘things’ or brands whilst on the move will become common place.   In recognition of this,  Belgian based company Boondoggle Lifelabs has created a new service called Likify, which centres around using QR Codes to generate Facebook LIKE actions from your smartphone.  The service is actually really cool, but at the same time relatively simple.

When creating a Facebook LIKE QR Code on the Likify site, you simply encode your Facebook Page URL, upload an image for the Mobile landing page and then generate the QR Code itself.  Likify handles the techie stuff; automatically creating the Facebook LIKE plug-in script for your page and then neatly presenting the Facebook LIKE button on the Mobile landing page itself.

Click on the image below to enlarge it.  Once done, give the QR Code a scan and slap a LIKE on the Facebook Page – it’s magic!

Whilst we acknowledge that the Likify service is a neat way of presenting mobile LIKE actions, it only really replicates what a QR Code can do if directed to a Facebook Page.  The user experience may be simpler and perhaps better from a mobile than clunking around a Facebook page, but there’s no real magic yet.  We’ve also seen reports on various blogs claiming that the Likify service will create LIKEs for products or ‘things’.  The reality is that unless there’s a page on Facebook for the product, you can’t create a LIKE for it.  Can’t really see a Supermarket listing every item they stock as individual Facebook pages..

We’ll be posting more news about innovation from the world of QR Codes soon as well as some of our own innovations, so make sure you sign up for the Blog Updates and don’t forget that all important Facebook LIKE!

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