James Cridland's blog

A radio futurologist writing about what happens when radio and new platforms collide
This is an archive post from my old website. Not all links will work. For new posts, visit my main writing index.

« | Blog index | »

Where QR codes fit with radio

Posted on Wednesday, November 16th, 2011 at 2:12 pm. #

An exciting QR code.

More and more, I’m seeing QR codes appear in advertising. It vexes me a little, since (apart from being pretty ugly) they’re mostly being used rather badly.

A QR code is used on a mobile phone; so it makes little or no sense to point the QR code towards a website that doesn’t display nicely on one. If users have to squint to see anything, then users simply won’t bother using them. Worse, if the page links to a flash-heavy website which an iPhone won’t see. None of that makes much sense to me.

I’ve seen some QR codes used on the TV, notably in advertising or in end-credits (most recently in BBC London local news’s end credits). These QR codes stay onscreen for a second or so: far too quick for anyone to grab their phone, unlock it, open the barcode reader application, walk up to the screen and take the photograph. I’d be amazed if anyone bothered. (I, boringly, did: I used live pause/rewind on my telly. It led to the BBC London website, which doesn’t have a mobile view).

And let’s not start with the concept of a QR code being used in advertising in a tube station, or a Victoria line tube train. (Victoria line trains never break the surface, and so – like tube stations – never have any mobile coverage).

Now, I have seen some nice examples of QR codes. Planning permission notices in New York City, for example, have a QR code that links straight to the planning application. Train timetable posters in London have a QR code, too. That makes a lot of sense: it’s a good example of linking deep into a website for a specific piece of information. But I’ve not seen any radio stations, yet, using QR codes.

So, should radio stations simply ignore QR codes, and simply use URLs in their advertising?

I’d argue that QR codes offer rather a good opportunity: because a radio station is one of only a very few amount of products that you can simply start to consume, for free, on your mobile phone.

So, if you’re advertising – using outdoor, in newspapers, leaflets or even stickers – it makes sense to include a QR code that links to a specific page: one that does a very specific job: gets people tuning in.

This page should be formatted for mobile; and dynamically generated based on the handset. It should have one clear link to “download our app” (linking to the right appstore for the right handset); and one clear link to “listen now” if the OS supports it. Perhaps, if you’re feeling brave, one clear link to “our full site”.

So, if you’re advertising – using outdoor, in newspapers, leaflets or even stickers – it makes sense to include a QR code that links to a specific page: one that does a very specific job: gets people tuning in.

This page should be formatted for mobile; and dynamically generated based on the handset. It should have one clear link to “download our app” (linking to the right appstore for the right handset); and one clear link to “listen now” if the OS supports it. Perhaps, if you’re feeling brave, one clear link to “our full site”.

In this way, QR codes could offer an instant sampling opportunity for your radio station, if done right. Are you?

6 comments

Jimmy Buckland
commenting at November 16th, 2011 at 3:15 pm

Here’s something we did with a QR code earlier this month in Sport…

http://bit.ly/vE3vls

Dan
commenting at November 16th, 2011 at 5:35 pm

I honestly don’t know of anyone who would, or indeed has ever, used one of these things.

As you note, they tend to be in the worst places (signs, billboards etc) which are no use whatsoever as you’re often on the go.

The ones the bus stops are interesting but given you’ve got to get your phone out, get near the timetable and then take a picture it’s a lot of hassle and, let’s be honest, you look a bit of an idiot doing it. A short URL which you can see from afar and discreetly type in is much better.

Tristan
commenting at November 18th, 2011 at 7:58 am

I wonder if you could display a small QR code on a radio’s screen? What would you do with it then?

James Cridland
commenting at November 18th, 2011 at 4:45 pm

@Tristan – you can, of course – either using RadioVIS or DAB slideshow. The question is: why would you do that when you can display proper and interactive content anyway?

Tristan
commenting at November 18th, 2011 at 5:36 pm

On low res black and white screens maybe? For syncing / pairing devices with unconnected radios? Don’t know, just something I’ve wondered about but not thought through yet.

Maco Burst
commenting at November 21st, 2011 at 11:23 pm

Qr codes don’t have to be ugly. A little design imagination can go a long way.
http://contentdeveloper.com/2010/01/how-to-customize-qr-codes-with-your-brands-identity/

This is an archive site, and comments are now closed.