by Laura Marriott, CEO with NeoMedia Technologies
Much has been written on the topic of the competition between QR and Augmented Reality (see here) for share of mobile marketing budgets. Put bluntly, many believe Augmented Reality (AR) will circumvent QR’s current market share as advertisers flock to the rich experience of AR. The issue, however, is not that black and white. The benefits of QR codes have been well publicised. In effect, a single code can act as a portal to a branded online world, helping to maximise media spend, establish dialogue with the consumer and make the user experience more holistic and media rich. While QR codes provide a real-time source of data for marketers to help shape existing and future marketing programs, they also provide consumers with a range of value-added information and incentives about brands, retailers and their products.QR codes are very popular and continue to grow. NeoMedia’s recent results here showed that QR scanning has grown by 119 per cent in the past year – suggesting the industry and consumers continue to adopt at record pace.
Smartphone proliferation and changing patterns in usage of mobile devices also means there is a greater captive audience for QR codes – some 4.5 million in the UK according to Ofcom, which should translate into further growth as businesses and verticals respond to this opportunity.
But is AR encroaching on the QR space (as Readwriteweb suggests here)?
For those not familiar with it, AR consists of a live, direct or indirect feed of a real world environment using GPS, graphics, video and sound.
One of the first forms of AR came to the USA via Monday Night Football. Remember the lines that appear on your television screen showing offside rulings? That was AR.
One of AR’s benefits is that it allows brands to provide their users with an immersive 3D experience. It brings life to ideas and allows brands to capture the imagination of their target audience.
The key point to grasp is that the goals of both media elements are fundamentally different – meaning QR and AR can, and often do, complement one another, making for a richer experience for brand and consumer alike.
Earlier this year, when New Zealand based winery Brancott Estate, launched its first Android and iOS app – it also started putting QR codes on all its wine bottles.
When a user downloads the app to scan the code printed on the label, the consumer is presented with food pairing suggestions, along with augmented reality views of the vineyard, information and images of grape types, and other relevant information.
While there are plenty of other apps that offer a commentary on selecting wines to match meals, it is not often you see retail products ship with a compelling experience, like this one, incorporating both QR and AR.
Brancott has taken on a forward-thinking approach to incorporating mobile technology into its marketing strategy – one that we anticipate other brands will utilise as their mobile marketing efforts mature.
We are still in the relatively early stages of the evolution of QR and AR, and it is up to the marketer to determine what solution fits best with the goals they are looking to achieve over the course of the campaign.
In many instances, it is not simply a debate of ‘either/or’ but rather how the two strategies may be able to complement each other to offer the best solution, while maintaining the consumer experience as the top priority.
The very nature of AR will help to ensure its popularity, especially with those who have a desire for a richer media engagement with their chosen brands.
However, QR codes still remain one of the easiest and most versatile mobile marketing techniques to implement and use.
They can be read by hundreds of different readers and applied, managed and changed throughout a campaign.
It is this pragmatism that is the primary reason QR codes and their corresponding technologies will continue to remain popular amongst the marketing and consumer communities.
Laura Marriott is Chief Executive Officer with NeoMedia Technologies