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QR codes

by Bruno Deshayes on 16 Jun 2016 permalink
Have you noticed those ubiquitous black and white squares of dots popping up on travel brochures, billboards, posters, restaurant menus and other consumer venues?

Well, QR stands for quick response and the idea is that you point the camera of your smartphone on it and the advertiser's website somehow just appears on your browser!

Originally invented by Toyota in the mid 90s as a more efficient form of two dimensional barcode it has migrated to other uses.

It is an advertiser's Godsend because Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) are notoriously difficult for people to remember. In the past businesses would pay a premium to obtain an easy-to-remember phone number. It was prominently displayed on service vehicles and ads in local papers.

Now the vintage phonebook is having a rebirth. It is not so much a collection of phone numbers anymore but a collection of websites... Same with the regional newspaper. Scan this code and visit our website.

QR codes are found on Chinese train tickets and Japanese visas for passports. In June 2011, the Royal Dutch Mint issued the world's first official coin with a QR code to celebrate the centennial of its current building and premises

Strangely enough a QR codes scanner is not part of the standard smatphone operating system. Instead you have to download an app for android or iPhone like this one Besides URLs QR codes are promoted to save typing an event, a location on a map, somebody's contact details (vCard), forwarding an enail or SMS or just any plain text.

The use of QR codes is free of any license. The QR code is clearly defined and published as an ISO standard. Denso Wave owns the patent rights on QR codes, but has chosen not to exercise them. The word QR code itself is a registered trademark of Denso Wave Incorporated.

Just like downloading willy nilly mobile phone apps can get you in trouble, scanning a rogue QR Code can also put you at risk. In shopping malls people could distribute handbills to entice customers to scan a code for a free cappuccino only to land onto a dodgy website which would set a virus on your phone. In Russia, a malicious QR code caused phones that scanned it to send premium texts at a fee of US$6 each.

There you have it. The local business guy spent his good money to get a decent website to detail his product or services. Now comes along the organised crime operator who slaps his own QR code on top of the one on the billboard. Scan it and load a Trojan horse to play havoc on your device instead of being enlightened about an honest business trying to serve your needs...

One saving grace is that you get a chance to vet the URL contained in the code before actually going there with the browser.


Interrupters interrupted

by Bruno Deshayes on 26 Mar 2016 permalink
In-your-face advertising is on its last leg. If you work in marketing it might be time to un-learn what you knew worked so well for so long and do something else...

Since the sixties magazine, radio and television advertising was based on the premise that you had to interrupt as many people as you could with your wonderful self-promoting message.

Cyberspace is pulling the plug on this cosy arrangement - now consumers are googling for what takes their fancy and the smart operators who offer real value are being found at literally no cost to them.

Marketers who want to keep a tight control on their corporate image risk isolation. What matters is being willing to lose control to let a good story spread.

Savvy consumers care more about what social media says about a given topic or brand than what a political candidate or corporation says about themselves.

People are shopping online in droves. Some may like to go down to the local shopping mall but only after doing their research on the net.

Journalists scan the net for bloggers in the know. The official channels of communications are being challenged.

Stakeholders don't buy your corporate gobbledygook anymore. Instead they send an email to your CEO. Some companies waste millions in market research but fail to capitalise on the wealth of trends and feedback that comes freely in their inbox from interested parties.

God has given us one mouth and two ears. It is time for marketers to use them in that proportion. The era of the marketing corporate monologue is over. Instead companies need to engage with their marketplace and it is being done in full view of everybody including your competitors (gasp!).

Corporations have been caught off-guard for ignoring pesky requests when in fact their customer service policies were being scrutinised in broad daylight unbeknown to them.

Today you can't pick and choose the image you wish to broadcast. Your corporate behaviour IS your image. The net is an excellent medium for investigative journalism. Any passionate blogger can get to the bottom of a corporate misnomer and blast the truth from the rooftop.

Even a champion of marketing like Apple got it wrong when they tried to cover-up issues with the iPhone 4 antenna.

Marketers had it so good for so long. Now it is the turn of consumers to call the shots.


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