As QR codes continue to vex Marketers here comes AR | MMA Global

As QR codes continue to vex Marketers here comes AR

June 19, 2012
As QR code adoption and usage rates by consumers continue to vex marketers Layar, Ricoh, and Documobi have released applications where print articles viewed with a compatible Augmented Reality (AR) apps become clickable print and unveil additional digital content to the reader. This is a great idea in that it expands what printed pages and ads can do for their reader without obstructing the page with a QR code and still provide the consumer with an interactive way to gain the latest digital content. However many of the problems faced by marketers in the use of QR codes have similar applications to the use of AR in print.

The problems that face QR codes are shared by Clickable Print and AR

  • Lead to Engaging Content
  • A lack of Consumer Value
  • Proper Location of Clickable Print
  • Consumer Awareness with AR and Clickable Print
  • Compatible Software

Clickable Print leading to Engaging Content:

Marketers and advertisers need to provide not only a page, ad, or standee that visually engages the customer but one that encourages the consumer to scan the clickable print with content that then is as engaging. Worthless content is too often linked to from QR codes and this drives down consumer willingness to scan QR codes in the future and the same therefore it can be said in the use of AR and clickable print. The information or action that is found through the clickable print should be engaging enough to encourage the consumer to not only do it again, but rewarding enough to encourage them to show their friends.

Asking for Consumer Action without providing Consumer Value:

Asking consumers to interact with your print page is much like asking consumers to scan your QR code. The action of the consumer requires a reward that the consumer both expects and values, whether it's additional information, a coupon, or a game. Properly rewarding the consumer with relevant content and promotions are important to creating trust with the consumer and generating positive word of mouth.

Proper Location of Clickable Print:

Layar CreatorQR codes are already being thoroughly mocked by; soon another Tumblr site will be created in which clever marketers find stickers on bananas or billboards on highways that are clickable via augmented reality apps. Properly locating advertisements, standees, and print that is clickable is essential as it is with QR Codes. If cell phones can't get a signal in the subway stations you can't place clickable Ads in those stations and this is the same for both technologies. Marketers and advertisers need to look at not only the content the consumer is digesting but where they will be digesting the information. Asking one's self if the clickable print is located in a store, on a billboard, in a train station, or in a magazine, and then considering whether it is safe or even possible for the consumer to use the information at that location. Answering the question of location will solve many headaches before they arise for consumers and marketers.

Consumer Awareness with AR and Clickable Print:

Consumer awareness with clickable print and AR will have a bigger hurdle than QR codes for marketers as QR codes themselves are recognizable, whereas clickable print may just look like any other printed page or ad. Of course Layar and others have thought of this and created recognizable logos for consumers to see and know that they can interact with the page. Marketers and advertisers however need to create a universal symbol that is recognizable by consumers. A universal symbol for clickable print isn't as clean cut as we'd like as we'll discuss in a minute it may prove difficult because of a lack of universally compatible creation tools and AR apps. Significant hurdles will have to be crossed in standardization before consumer awareness can even be effectively approached.

Universally Compatible Software:

Ricoh Clickable PaperLike QR codes there are many apps in which you can use augmented reality to interact with clickable print. Documobi has a smartphone app which is universal for their creation tool in which anyone that that has Documobi installed on their phone can scan any clickable print created/scanned using Documobi. Layar likewise with their already established augmented reality app has just recently released their content creation tool as did Ricoh. Now unlike QR codes, content expanded upon by any of these three isn't recognizable by the other three's apps as it the method and hosting system is not standardized, yet. This is where marketers and software designers need to work together immediately. Having competing platforms only works with a few and as more developers create clickable print tools the market will can become so fragmented that adoption by both consumers and marketers wanes for more standardized options like NFC and QR codes. Additionally a larger company like Google, Amazon, or Microsoft could have a lot to gain by launching a standardized platform and putting their considerable financial muscle behind it before smaller companies collaborate on their own standard platforms.

As we can see many of the same problems that face marketers with QR codes aren't that dissimilar from the potential problems faced by clickable print and augmented reality applications. For both QR codes and Augmented Reality the problems boil down to content, value, location, awareness, and standardized tools.