» 5 Qr Code Failures To Learn From HouseOfBrew – Unplugged and Brewed

5 Qr Code Failures To Learn From

Broken QR Code

 

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.

   
  • http://twitter.com/gegere Jason Gegere

    Great article!

    • Anonymous

      Thanks Jason! 

  • http://linkedin.com/in/joesorge Joe Sorge

    Solid! nice one Brew. 

    • Anonymous

      Thanks Joe. 

  • http://notes.tomhenrich.com Tom Henrich

     The only comment of yours that I disagree with is the “no reward!” bit. While it certainly doesn’t hurt to offer something to customers who visit your site, this idea that you *have* to reward people for doing something bothers me.

    Why have we gotten it into our heads that people need to be given something special just for coming to our site on their phone? They took the initiative to scan the code, why isn’t the experience of the site (which has hopefully been designed to support the mobile user) enough?

    • Anonymous

      You might be taking “reward” too literally. The reward for scanning the code would be seeing whatever it is you were intended to see. If it’s Flash and you’re using an iPhone, you don’t get to see it, or the “reward.”

      • Anonymous

        You’re right.  I didn’t mean an actual reward – I meant driving me to a page of value – not just your crappy website viewed over my phone. 

    • Anonymous

      Tom, the experience of this site was terrible, which was my point.  No need for a literal reward…I agree.

  • Anonymous

    Is there not another major #fail with this – it’s in an in-flight magazine – surely meaning that the vast majority of ad impressions will be made when people have no Internet connectivity. U simple, easy-to-remember, easy-to-type URL beats a QR code nearly all the time.

    • Anonymous

      Yes!  We joke about that all the time.  However, they do encourage you to take the magazine with you – so I suppose scanning can be done after you get off the plane ;)  

    • http://twitter.com/Zoove Zoove

      Agreed! Short URL’s and memorable call to actions are much more useful. StarStar Numbers from Zoove have that benefit – if you can remember the brand (**BRAND or **27263) you can call when you have service later and be linked to the brand of your interest.

    • http://twitter.com/Zoove Zoove

      Agreed! Short URL’s and memorable call to actions are much more useful. StarStar Numbers from Zoove have that benefit – if you can remember the brand (**BRAND or **27263) you can call when you have service later and be linked to the brand of your interest.

  • http://wheelerblogs.com Eric Wheeler

    Nice breakdown of this ad. I had no idea I should be including the registered trademark information when using the term “QR code.”
    Thanks.

    Also, I have a post on my blog on QR codes as well at http://wheelerblogs.com I’m thinking of doing a followup soon.

    • Anonymous

      I’ll be honest – it was the inclusion of the wording in that ad that made me research and find that out.  I had no idea prior that you were suppose to indicate that the word QR Code was a trademark.

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  • http://philgerbyshak.com Phil Gerbyshak

    Great list. Here is one more:

    How about including the URL for those who don’t have a QR code scanner?

    • Anonymous

      Great addition phil.  In this particular ad, they did put the URL as an alternative – so at least they got something right ;)

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