The use of the QR code last year skyrocketed thanks to the ease of technology. On the other hand, augmented reality offers a more exciting way of interacting with consumers, but it may not be the right choice in all cases.
Magazine advertisers and publishers, packs, catalogers and e-commerce suppliers have embraced QR codes to provide content and support virtual shopping experiences. The number of brands embracing augmented reality is currently small, but some unique augmented reality experiences are starting to appear.
Dan Roche, vice president of marketing for TalkPoint, New York, says: “Hands down, QR codes are the best value for anyone looking to connect the real world with the virtual world. At TalkPoint, we see our customers use QR codes on prints and on-site for promotions. Augmented reality creates an interactive experience that is more fun and engaging, and these are great qualities for a marketing campaign. I, however, believe that QR codes are more tangible than augmented reality. “
The practical side:
Both QR codes and augmented reality have their own set of advantages and disadvantages.
There is still no standard 2D barcode format – which minimizes consumer awareness – and users don’t always know what to expect when scanning a code. In addition, QR code readers are not standard on all mobile operating systems.
On the positive side, QR codes require little effort from the consumer to use and offer a great way to see a product in action before making a purchase. From a marketing perspective, they are relatively inexpensive to implement.
Roche says: “There will be steady growth in the use of bar codes. I don’t see the QR code as a turning point that will rise. However, I see practicality, controlled use cases that really fit well with QR codes because they are affordable, available and capable of generating hard dollars. Their use in stores, subway stops, train and bus stations and conferences help make it a practical choice for customers who want to check the user experience. They provide a way to offer coupons, product reviews, etc. “
The emotion factor:
The Future of Augmented reality Apps can be an embarrassing experience, with users having to have a cell phone in front of their face and finding digital overlays of physical objects. On the other hand, unlike QR codes, there is no need to download a special reader.
Production costs for augmented reality can also be high, but the investment can be worth it when the end result is a fun and engaging experience that users remember with pleasure.
Another problem with augmented reality is understanding how to measure return on investment (ROI).
Roche says, “I think 2013 will be a lot of buzz and interest in augmented reality will grow. Their ROI creates uncertainty about their use for basic promotion. Some retailers, such as Starbucks (with its Magic Cup), have done a good job. “
Retail is a sector, in particular, in which QR codes and augmented reality have taken off, in fact they push customer experiences beyond the physical bringing some added emotion to their stores.
For example, Wal-Mart has embraced augmented reality to create in-store experiences around the retail promotions of popular films like Spider-Man and The Avengers.
Kevin French, executive director and general manager of G2, Philadelphia, says: “The use of augmented reality and QR codes will continue to increase in 2013, all in the name of shopping convenience and retail revenue. 2013 will mark the most incredible passage for each point of contact between physical experiences and digital experiences. Both technologies will find their appropriate use in the exchange between customers and resellers. “
In 2013, brands will continue to use QR codes as a practical way to engage users and provide useful content, while augmented reality will certainly be used as a means of arousing emotions for the user.
Yes, the excitement for the Google project is growing and will offer a wearable augmented reality, like the glasses of the project itself.
David Bryant, creative director of staff, San Francisco: “QR codes are actually just a quick shortcut to reach a digital information site. They are still useful – but interest in them has dropped, of course because they are no longer news. We believe there will be a revival of interest in AR with the advent of Google Glass. Developers have started developing applications that use the SDK – the platform is solid and has a huge company behind it, plus the love and attention of one of the founders of Google.