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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The futility of QR codes on Tube adverts

Interesting guest post from
Ged Carroll @r_c Director digital strategies Ruder Finn

This is probably the best usage of a QR code that I've seen so far. Still don't think they'll catch on past nerds, though by littlelazer121
US Subway ad with QR Code by littlelazer121

"Travelling on the London Underground ‘Tube’ recently I have noticed that more and more adverts have a QR code, I am not too sure if this is a recent phenomena or that I have been paying more attention as a number of the projects that I’ve been recently looking at are about the ‘web of no web’: the interface between the web and the real world. I am a big fan of progressive approaches to marketing, however, the more I thought about the phenomena, the greater the waste of time that it seemed to be.


Picture credit - Friends of the Earth

"Londoners often joke about the Tube being like cattle trucks; in reality European Union regulations wouldn’t allow livestock to travel on a train with the conditions of the Tube on a hot summers day. A combination of overcrowding together with the lack of air conditioning means that some of the lines can be as hot as a walk in the desert. The over-crowding also means that would be hard to take a picture of a QR code. So whilst the advert may have a large reach, the realistic reach of the QR code call to action is a lot smaller.

Sardines on North London Train from the London Paper

"So you happen to be lucky in terms of where the crush places you and try to snap the QR code with your phone. You probably won’t be successful, Tube lines aren’t known for the smooth ride of say the Paris Métro, so you will be trying to hold your camera still whilst the train carriage rocks and sways in front of your smartphone. Your phone won’t be able to focus and take a clear image of the QR code. That’s one of the reasons why there isn’t a Tube advert shown here to illustrate this post, despite at least three attempts over the past week to snap a picture of an appropriate advert.

This is London by alexander_boden

"Unlike other mass transit systems in the likes of Singapore and Hong Kong, huge high-traffic sections of the lines are underground or in such a deep cutting that they are inaccessible to mobile phone networks so QR code won’t take the audience through to an appropriate web page, but instead prompt a ‘network unavailable’ message.

"All of this shows that the media buyers, marketers and or designers don't pay much attention to the context of their advertisement artwork, which could artificially skew campaign objectives and measurement adversely."

There are some good uses of QR codes at stations but I agree with Ged that using them for in-carriage advertising just smacks of trying to be trendy without having much thought for usability.

Terence Eden spotted a good use for QR codes at Wimbledon Station waiting room:

Wimbledon Station Bookswap. What a good idea (& good use of QR)

He said "Wimbledon Station Bookswap. What a good idea (& good use of QR)"

The US also seem to be using QR codes in carriage adverts but it appears to be on overground trains only where there is a good reception (also see first picture on this post)

More QR codes
More QR codes "in the wild" - on the MBTA Red Line - by Mark Eichin

Thanks again to Ged Carroll  for a thought provoking guest post, you can also see the post here.

So, what do you think?  Do you use QR codes on the move or at Tube stations?  Have you seen many QR codes on Tube adveristing - both in carriage & outside of carriages?  Do you think QR codes on Tube ads will be a growing trend.  Do you even know what a QR code is?

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, August 23, 2011 Permalink COMMENT HERE