Why QR Codes Failed and What’s Next To Replace Them.

Are QR Codes truly effective in the marketing environment? How many times you recently scanned a QR code? Are QR codes really creating awareness and engaging the consumer? Or, have they simply fallen into the white noise of marketing messaging?  With all of the questioning in the marketplace, Ricoh’s new “Clickable Paper” technology is poised to bump QR code out of popularity and into extinction.

The QR code, first introduced in 1994 in Japan, was originally created to track automobiles during the manufacturing process. Today, QR codes are everywhere. They can be found in both commercial-tracking and consumer-driven applications everywhere. Over the past several years, QR codes have transformed into a popular marketing tool for increasing brand engagement, and seen on virtually every print material from packaging to direct mail. With the increase in smart phone usage, one would think the popularity of the QR code would match the increase of smartphone usage and it’s capabilities. Sadly, that is definitely not the case.

So, why the failure of QR codes? Why hasn’t this novel marketing tool caught on? While they can successfully encourage user interaction, there are several things that the functionality of the code lacks. For example, the ability to drive the user to more than one location. Right now, QR Codes typically drive traffic to one URL: website, social platform, or landing page.

If the QR code does not evolve, it will soon become obsolete as other pieces of technology adapt the consumer and brand marketers every changing needs for versatility within functionality.

Below are a few examples of why the QR Code may have seen its last days:

  1. iOS and Android platforms require an application download to view/access the QR Code. If future QR Code competitors can find a way to make it easier for the consumer to gain access to the information, this would increase the likelihood of adoption and usage. One option could be to work with the Open Mobile Alliance to create an industry standard for a “QR Code-like” piece of technology that comes pre-installed on every smart device as part of each platform’s standard app libraby.
  2. The QR code is limited to a single URL that directs the user to a corporate website or Facebook page. This information can otherwise can be found by going directly to the website, thus it’s really not adding major value. Offering ways to access multiple links or pieces of content would greatly enhance the user experience and engagement.
  3. Embedding new technology into substrates other than paper are another way that future technologies could attract and convert consumers. For example, if there was a way to engage via fabric and make this new technology wearable tech, the likelihood of adoption from tweens, teens, and millenials would skyrocket exponentially.

Now that the QR code seems to be a dying tactic, what’s next? New and innovative applications are being developed right now, to build upon the QR code’s legacy. As the demand for consumer involvement and the ability to share larger amounts of information increases, marketers will need to find new ways to interact and entertain. Enter the “new,” a recently created technology called “Clickable Paper” by Ricoh.

View the video to see Clickable Paper in action:

“Clickable Paper” allows you to scan, then click that image to automatically search the Internet for relevant and relatable content. Think of Clickable Paper as Siri for print. Post-click you’ll be directed to several options for image-related content. From Amazon links to YouTube videos to websites/social links, Clickable Paper will enhance any image with rich online content. Clickable paper also allows you to share content among your social media networks directly from the application. Simply put, Clickable Paper technology allows you to access enriched content from any of your printed materials: newspapers, books, magazines, brochures, postcards, and more!

How does it work? “Clickable Paper” uses Visual Search technology and image recognition software from any piece of digital or printed content to optimize it for searchability from a media-rich cloud. Any files created with this software can be labeled with rich media links known as “Hot Spots” with a maximum of 6 links per document.

Although the consumer element is evident, marketers will also benefit from such a great tool. This QR Code 2.0 technology will enable them to offer rich and detailed content via their print marketing to drive traffic to their online presence and social platforms simultaneously. Why choose one, when you can now have both?

“Clickable Paper” looks to revolutionize the imaging marketing arena. As imaging technology advances, marketers will be able to produce better looking, personalized, and content-rich collateral built for lead generation and engagement. Only time will tell whether consumers will react to “Clickable Paper” positively. But, as consumer demands for rich media content continue to increase, “Clickable Paper” seems to be poised for success.

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