QR codes vs ‘standard’ barcodes

I rarely use this blog to big up work we’ve done at Rabbit, but this is an exception as it’s something I was particularly thrilled about.    It turned something that’s normally seen as an inconvenience – construction hoardings – into a public information point for (London) Gatwick Airport.   And that information is presented in a different way, through giant mobile barcodes.

Eventually a series of these codes (you use the free Stickybits app to scan them) will appear around the airport and together they will form a ‘Gatwick Discovery Tour’ that will bring the airport’s £1bn ($1.58 bn) investment programme to life through images and video.

We deliberately decided to use Stickybits as opposed to the QR codes, because we thought people would respond better to the type of barcode they see day in, day out on household products, and I’m not convinced that most consumers would be able to identify what a QR code is.

Kevin Dugan has used this as the basis of a post where he calls QR codes “marketing’s scan-gasm”:  “QR codes are getting the buzz worthy of a shiny new object, but the consumer’s awareness of barcodes is a great point. There is education required regardless of which you choose, but Stickybits offers the marketer a bit more flexibility and a level of engagement that QR codes seemingly cannot.”

Obviously I’m biased, but I think his conclusion is right – look behind the “shiny new aura” of QR codes.   Might ‘standard’ ones work just as well in supporting marketing activity?

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5 comments

  1. Is a QR code really better than a standard barcode if all you’re doing is directing the mobile user to a URL?…

    A standard barcode does not prompt a user or customer to scan it. It looks like a regular old barcode used at the checkout line. Part of the allure of QR codes is that they look unique and prompt curiosity and action from consumers. Some more info you …

  2. Hi,
    Just trying to get my old head around this.
    We’ve been supplying advertising beer mats to promote anything from the local laundry to BMW and Sir Elton John anywhere in Europe North America for many years now.
    Recently we’ve been recieving requests to have QR codes printed on the beermats. Is this something that’s sort of “taking off”?
    I appreciate your thoughts.
    Cheers
    Beermatman
    Here’s the link to our website if you’d like to take a look. Hope adding it is ok.

  3. I’ve come to this conclusion as well. First, most people already get barcodes, so you go right to the novelty of what might be under there rather than stopping to thing what the heck it is.

    Another thing I like about stickybits is that you don’t need to change anything for CPG clients. You don’t have to go to print anything new or change any labeling to put a content toy in that box.

    To that end, that’s the limitation I’ve seen as well. The bits that you can stick on things? I haven’t found a compelling case for them yet. I’m a pretty ardent supporter of StickyBits, yet can’t get that habit to pick up for myself or anyone.

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