If you own a smart phone such as an Android or iPhone, you can download an application to scan QR codes. Many times, businesses place a QR code on an ad as a way for readers to get more information, enter to win a prize or buy an item. Instead of remembering a web address to type in later on, smart phone users can simply scan the QR code, much like a UPC code at the grocery store, and get the information instantly.
“QR codes are becoming more and more prevalent everywhere,” said Joe Ruiz of Social Points, a company that provides QR code solutions. “You’re starting to see them on everything. The rise of the use of them is because of the rise of the use of mobile phones. People with their mobile phones are now able to get more information from a static item.”
Ruiz noted that many companies use QR codes incorrectly by simply placing one on an ad with no explanation. Companies get the most out of QR codes by offering something to readers, such as a discount, promotion, sweepstakes or opportunity to purchase a product.
QR codes, which started as a way for automobile manufacturers to keep track of their inventory, also serve as an interactive extension of an ad.
“If you have a product that’s very hard to describe within a 4x6 ad, it’s basically an extension of that ad, and people can get brochures, watch videos or buy the product. Basically, you’re cutting out a lot of steps. Now you’re basically saying, ‘You like it? Scan it, buy it.’”
The usage of QR codes has quickly been expanding, especially as more and more phones with scanning capabilities flood the market. Museums and movie theaters use them to provide customers an interactive experience. Transit organizations have printed codes on schedules so riders can learn when the next train or bus is arriving.
When Antioch City Councilman Gary Agopian was running for office in 2010, he tapped into this technology as a way to reach voters. Agopian placed a QR code on mailers and ads so voters could scan and receive more information about his platform.
Agopian expects more politicians to use QR codes in the upcoming November elections in an effort to interact with younger, tech-savvy voters.
“I do know for a fact that people were aware of what they were for and picked up on it right away,” Agopian said. “The younger generation is the one that’s more aware and would take advantage of that. … I’d like to see young people get engaged, and this is a way to connect with them.”