I found this half page advertisement
in an in-flight magazine. Hopefully I’ve blurred out enough so that you can only recognize the brand if it was your ad. This advertisement has a few problems, but the biggest problem was that the qr code would not scan at all. In fact, I was only able to see the intended destination page by taking a picture, loading it to my laptop, and zooming in and scanning my monitor. Yeah, not too many people are going to go to that extent for your ad
Failure #1 – Size matters.
According to the official Denso-Wave specifications: “The size of QR Code is decided by determining a symbol version, based on data capacity, character type and error correction level, and by setting a module size, based on the performance of the printer for printing or the scanner for reading.” I’ve done a ton of testing on my own with various versions, sizes, and phones and I’ve chosen to use a Version 2 symbol (25X25 modules), error correction level M (15%), and print the code 11/16″ X 11/16″. This has resulted in the quickest scan using short URLs by the highest number of devices.
Failure #2 – The word “QR Code” is a registered trademark.
Only when you use the word “QR Code” within your document or advertisement do you need to also print “QR Code is registered trademark of DENSO WAVE INCORPORATED”. This does not apply to the code pattern itself – only the word. This advertisement did not need to include the reference and could have used that space to enlarge the QR Code or have better instructions.
Failure #3 - Unnecessary data stored in the code.
When I was finally able to scan this code, the URL was 126 characters! Using an error correction level of M (error correction capability of 15%) means that this code is twice the size that it needs to be. If only they had used a short URL service, this code may have scanned, even at the small size. I give them a few extra credit points because the URL contained Google Analytics information in it, but again – if they had only used bit.ly, this advertisement would have been more successful.
Failure #4 – Poor instructions.
“Scan here for more information” makes the assumption that everyone knows what that weird looking barcode is. This is better than not using any instructions at all, but how about something like “Interested in learning more? Use your mobile device to scan this QR Code or visit our web site for details”. What about including room that says “Just search for ‘qr code scanner’ on your phone’s app store to download a reader.” If you’re going to use QR Codes, you need to help educate the masses.
Failure #5 – Non-mobile content with no reward
For a minute, let’s just pretend that everything was fixed in this ad. I break out my phone, fire up my scanner, and scan with ease! Three minutes later, the 604 KB site loads with *GASP* Flash content. Not only am I completely ticked off that I’m just viewing a poorly designed web page on my phone after waiting too long for it to load, but there’s absolutely no reward for doing this. There is no dedicated content for this ad, no discounts, not a single thing to make me feel rewarded for going online from this offline content.
Good lessons to be learned: Size, short URLs, instructions, trademark usage, testing, and rewards. What sort of QR Code failures have you seen? I’d love to hear about them.Tweet