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QR Codes 2012: Death By Augmented Reality?

Mtv-taco-bell-qr-codeAre QR codes dead in 2012? Are they a fad to be left behind as augmented reality takes hold? QR codes have been plagued by poor mobile network performance and are being deployed in a fairly cliched manner by being stuck on any surface that can handle printed graphics.  But QR codes also have the potential to continue as visual symbols of data caches, from images to audio files to videos, and indicators of virtual destinations, such as mobile sites or download points, as we move towards devices and software that transform the environment into a scannable augmented surface.

QR Code Music Marketing in 2011

In 2011 QR codes were used in a variety of interesting music marketing campaigns from feeding the Gaga Machine to providing maps for music venues in Portland, ME.

Jimmy Fallon flashed a QR code for Odd Future introducing their appearance on his show while Lupe Fiasco and Hong Kong's Zoo Records explored hyperlocal uses.

Other recent QR code music campaigns include voting in a "Hometown Sound" band search organized by maurices and an MTV/Taco Bell collab. Hallmark Channel and Billy Ray Cyrus are using QR codes in a tv movie to trigger a free music video download. The Stamford Symphony Orchestra is seeing successful responses to use of QR codes in printed marketing material.

Beyond QR Codes in 2012

The stage seems poised for something beyond finding a printable surface or viewable screen and tossing up a QR code. Something that bridge the gaps between actual and virtual worlds.

Oddly enough, Amazon's recent price-checking campaign may indicate what's next. The Price Check by Amazon app for Android and iPhones was used earlier this month to offer a discount to Amazon shoppers initiating their purchase with an in-store price check:

"Shoppers can compare prices by scanning a bar code, snapping a picture of a product, speaking its name into the phone or typing the name."

Microsoft's release of an all-in-one mobile scanner is another clue.

We're heading towards the ability to scan a variety of information sources rather than to a setting in which proliferating scannable codes are eventually ruled by one format such as the QR code. Instead of focusing on format for marketing decisions, the scannable environment requires a refocusing on human behavior.

QR Codes Are Dead! Long Live QR Codes!

Yet even as we move from scanning individual graphic objects to interacting with our environments using mobile devices, specific visual cues will remain an important means of identifying caches of data and linking to virtual locations. QR codes have the potential to become that universal indicator.

Hypebot contributor Clyde Smith maintains his freelance writing hub at Flux Research and blogs at All World Dance and This Business of Blogging. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.

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