The Drum
2D barcodes & all things related

The five most common mistakes advertisers make with QR Codes

It's not just about the code
It's not just about the code. QR Codes have received a bad reputation for disappointing users who have had a poor experience after scanning them. Yet, by directing the user to some form of content, the code has served its purpose. Only in the event that a code doesn't scan (mistake #2) should it be the focal point of concern. In most cases, I have found, that it is the content that should receive the majority of the scrutiny. Keeping that in mind, here are the five most common mistakes advertisers make with QR Codes.
  1. There is no testing before roll-out, otherwise, I would not be making the next four points. Always test your codes and mobile campaigns on as many different mobile devices as possible before you go live. For example, poorly created Designer QR Codes may scan on an iPhone, but not an Android or Blackberry.
  2. Code will not scan - As noted above, this is because the code has been improperly designed, printed or applied. Understanding the constraints of QR Codes will help you avoid mistakes. Code size, density, color, contrast and substrate for printing all must be considered.
  3. There is no call-to-action, offer or incentive to scan the code. In almost all cases, there should be some from of instruction accompanying each code letting the user know what to expect.
  4. Content to which the code points is not mobile-friendly or easy to browse on a mobile device. Knowing people are going to use a smartphone to scan the code, why would you direct them to anything less than a mobile optimized experience? Make sure your layout and content are mobile-friendly.
  5. Codes are placed in areas with no connectivity. Make sure your campaigns can be accessed in the actual areas you plan to advertise. Again, this goes back to testing #1.
A rebirth for QR Codes

There is a second wave of interest in QR Codes among big brands, especially in package design. Brands don't see bar codes going away anytime soon and they are benefiting on everything from Postal discounts to better user engagement by using them.

In closing, there's a lot more to QR Codes than meets the eye. Understanding how to use them to engage users correctly goes a long way in determining how useful your audience will find them to be.

Add a comment


  1. Abby, 23 Jan 2015
    Agreed! reply
  2. Erica, 23 Jan 2015
    Based on the codes I have scanned, I think there are a lot of missed opportunities. Do you offer tracking? reply
    • PRINT2D, 23 Jan 2015
      Hi Erica, we track the mobile experience (actual mobile pages), not the code itself. Please feel free to contact us so we may explain why it is not in your best interest to do so. reply
  3. Tim, 23 Jan 2015
    Good post on a subject few advertisers seem to get. reply
  4. Stephen, 23 Jan 2015
    Mobile payment systems will help re-establish the relevancy of QR Codes across the technology spectrum. reply
  5. Mike, 29 Jan 2015
    Pretty good blog item. I agree on the need for lots of testing. I also agree that the big brands will continue to use 2D barcode on their packaging, perhaps much more in the future. It may(will) not be QR code however. The big brands and the professional packaging folks will not accept subjective testing using different phones. They already use ISO test methods to grade their barcode print quality and will continue to do so in the future. reply
    • PRINT2D, 29 Jan 2015
      Hi Mike, Thanks. I agree there are a lot of printers that rely on ISO testing, so we guarantee the functionality of our codes for printers who work directly with PRINT2D. We continue to educate printers on the value of benchmark testing across phones and readers - understanding that consumers will scan the code with a phone, not a hand-scanner. The majority of QR Codes we create are Designer codes, so phone testing becomes imperative. reply
Add a comment

Have Questions? We are here to help M - Fri | 9AM - 5PM PST USA
ClickCall Us to receive an immediate call back or Dial (424) 229-1404