QR codes, or Quick Response codes, have existed for as long as we’ve had smartphones. You’ve seen them before, they’re those obtrusive postage stamp-sized black and white pixelated boxes found on printed material. They’ve been a great way to increase consumer interaction, but many people complain that they’re ugly and take away from the design. Recently, tech developers have taken the QR code concept and created their own apps that are quicker, broader, and more aesthetically pleasing than their predecessor. They bring a new generation into QR codes like Taylor Swift did with country music. Here are four of them:
Snapchat has had many changes since its inception in 2011. At first, if you wanted to add someone on Snapchat then you would have to ask for their username and manually enter it. Then the other person would have to do the same. Now it has Snapcodes that allow you to add friends in a snap, pun intended. The code appears as a series of dots surrounding Snapchat’s ghost element. You can share your code online or pull it up on your phone for others to scan and, just like that, you have a new Snapchat friend. You can also make your own Snapcodes that link to a website of your choice, which is much more fun than sharing a URL. Up to 8 million Snapcodes are scanned every day.
Brands take advantage of Snapcodes by using them on their packaging. Pepsi, for instance, stamped codes onto millions of bottles of the limited-edition cinnamon flavored cola this past summer. The codes unlocked exclusive geofilters, lenses, a mobile game, and a chance to enter sweepstakes
2. Spotify Codes
Spotify took inspiration from Snapchat and created their own kind of QR codes. Spotify codes are unique barcodes that look like soundwaves placed on album covers. You can scan it through the Spotify app to hear that song, album, artist, or playlist. You can also share the codes online or in person just like Snapcodes. Spotify codes make it easier to share music with friends, and artists enjoy sharing Spotify codes instead of links to promote their music.
The beta version of Call of Duty: WWII had secret Spotify codes hidden in various maps. They unlocked audio messages from the game’s characters that players could use to decipher a five-letter password and then enter the password on a classified website for an exclusive in-game calling card. This was the first time a video game partnered with Spotify.
A common complaint about QR codes is that you can’t use them unless you have both a smartphone and an app to read it. 90% of US adults have cell phones, but only 58% of them are smartphones. SnapTags, however, can work without an app. It only requires a camera phone. Despite the name, SnapTags were invented by SpyderLynk, not Snapchat. They are ring-shaped codes with the brand logo in the center. Smartphone users can download the Snap Reader app to scan it, and other phone users can take a picture of the code ring and text it to the designated number or email address.
SnapTags do more than take you to a website. They are made to unlock special offers and purchase opportunities. You can receive coupons, enter contests, request free samples, and more. They can be placed virtually anywhere, from magazine ads to t-shirts to TV screens. EA Sports placed SnapTags on the cover of the Madden NFL 13 and NCAA Football 13 video games. The codes allowed fans to like the Facebook page, see demonstration videos, and read about the game so they can view the product before purchasing. Consumers love it because they are easier to use than regular QR codes, better on the eyes, and very rewarding. Marketers love it because it gives them real-time performance feedback and they can track ROI.
- Clickable Paper
What if you didn’t need a code at all? With Clickable Paper, the image IS the code, so no more stamps on the design. It uses image recognition to link printed materials to online content. You simply download the CP app and point your camera at the page. You can create a PDF image that is linked as a hotspot to a maximum six websites per page, which can be changed at any time. Even a previously printed page can be made clickable. Books, magazines, billboards, direct mail, and any other type of printed material are optimized for this. A page will be tagged with the app’s logo or a written message to designate its click-ability.