By Patrick Nycz
I was in Chicago recently with my family standing on the corner of North Michigan Avenue waiting to cross the street with about 150 other people.
On my right was a huge planter filled with very colorful flowers. In the planter was a little sign with the sponsor's name, TruBlooms, Chicago. It's a perfume company. Underneath their logo was a QR code.
A man in front of me nudged the teen standing next to him. My guess is that is was his son. It looked like he wanted to show him how QR codes work because he lifted his iPhone, flipped through the screens and folders, located his QR code scanner and then he finally scanned the QR code on the sign.
The teen was watching him go through this pretty long, drawn-out ordeal. I'm guessing dad thought he was showing his son something cool. Little did Dad know, but he was about to get schooled in mobile technology.
The kid rolled his eyes when his dad proudly holds up the TruBloom webpage on his iPhone. The boy looked his dad right in the eye and says into his iPhone: "Siri, search the internet for TruBlooms Perfume Chicago." Within seconds and without doing much more than talking into his smartphone and selecting a link, he is on the same web page.
That moment underlined what I already suspected: QR code technology is dead. Killed by Siri, Apple's smartphone voice control system.
So as the walk light shines and we cross Michigan Avenue, I ask Siri the same thing. By the time I hit the other side of the street, the TruBloom Chicago site is the third link down on my Google search results. I select the link and come to the landing page, which is basically the same graphics as the sign that was on the planter back across the street. The page is barely even optimized for a mobile experience. It did rotate and change proportions with the phone, but you could tell by the teeny-tiny navigation that this landing page was primarily designed for a standard computer browser.
It was a letdown, a shame and the reason QR codes deserve to fade away. Not enough QR codes direct the user to anything cool when the user gets there. It only takes a few letdowns for users to feel burned and never want to go through the trouble of scanning the codes in the first place.
It would be great if everyone decided together not to create or recommend QR codes unless the plan is to do something uniquely tied to the brand and campaign messaging that is interactive, optimized for mobile and cool or different than the user will find anywhere else.
Phones are getting smarter and people are getting more impatient.
Less and less, folks (and no one under 30) are going to want to take the time to search through the zillion apps on their smartphone for the QR code reader, launch it and then scan the code to go to a website.
Take a recent Guitar Center ad I saw on the back of a recent catalog.
It is asking me to go to a website, download a QR Code reader, load it, launch it, THEN scan this code to go to the Guitar Center.
Instead, I just asked Siri to search the internet for Guitar Center. Done.
My team has been asked to add QR codes to communication pieces at least 3 times by different clients in the past few weeks. My response? We sure can, but let's do two things: 1) make sure we can track how many times it is scanned to determine how well it works, and 2) do something cool/different for the end-user to experience.
Next up: unique phrases the end-user tells Siri (or other smartphone voice control systems) that land them on the Google page with the top solution. If you want to learn more, just tell Siri: "Search the web for Indiana Design Consortium engage" and drop us an email.