Since last year’s holiday season one e-retail technology has seen a huge growth: QR codes. Learn about what they are and why they’re increasingly important for retailers and marketers. I interviewed Mark Tholking of quiQR and Dynomighty’s Terrence Kellerman about some of the newer examples we’re seeing with integrating with QR codes within video, for both marketing and commerce. They also offered up some great tips for businesses considering integrating QR codes with video marketing.

QR Code Primer – What is a QR Code?

QR is the acronym for “quick response,” meaning it brings electronic data to you in real time. Think of a QR code as a next-generation, 2-dimensional barcode. It consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background.

QR codes are used today in both commercial tracking applications and convenience-oriented applications aimed primarily at users with smartphones or other wifi-enabled devices. QR codes house more data than regular 1-dimensional barcodes, and have many more uses. Some common examples of a QR code can be to save contact data, send a text message or email, open up a webpage, or even send some directly to a video online. QR codes are becoming more commonplace in E-mail signatures, in-store product examples, or organizing business gatherings – just to name a few examples.

You need just 2 things to read a QR code:

  1. An electronic device with a wireless network and camera
  2. A QR code software scanner and reader application, a number of which are widely available in app stores for most any wireless device with an LCD screen. Some apps, like the ZXing Project, also include a QR code generator, which you can create directly online (such as the example I created below):

Example of QR Codes in Video for Business

Mark Tholking is the Co-Founder and lead developer the Web quiQR – a QR code reader and creator software app for the iPhone. I asked Mark to share with us some examples of how video is being integrated into QR codes for commercial strategies.

Billboards are one good example of QR codes popping up all around us. Last July, Calvin Klein ran three billboards in New York and Los Angeles that linked to an exclusive uncensored commercial.

I also asked Mark to share, what could be the most accessible scenario for using QR codes in one’s own video marketing? “A QR code could be added to a business card that links to a short intro video on YouTube or Vimeo.” He says. “This would be an effective way to remind the recipient of who you are and what you do. The recipient could also watch the video at a later date if there was not enough time for a full introduction.”

QR Codes in TV Commercials, Web Video, and Google TV Ads

We first interviewed Dynomighty Design’s founder, Terrence Kelleman last week for our article, How To Drive Sales Through YouTube – A Reel, Mighty Video Marketing Case Study. What also caught our interest was Dynomighty’s use of QR codes in YouTube videos, like with the example at the end of this video below:

We thought this was reason enough for a follow-up interview with Terrence, to learn more about what’s behind the success of integrating QR codes with a video marketing strategy.

Do you believe your company is the first to launch a TV commercial with a QR code in it?

DYNOMIGHTY's President, Terrence Kelleman

We weren’t the first TV ad ever to use a QR code, but Dynomighty was the first to integrate a QR code in a call-to-action at the end of the TV ad. We used the QR code in an integral way with a trademarked phrase that called on the viewer to interact with the ad. In this way we have done something that no one else has done before.

Have you noticed any differences between QR code tracking data from your TV ad versus your YouTube/Online Video ad?

What is so amazing about being able to track every scan of the QR code in real time is that I can see exactly at what minute our ads ran, and get a quick read of the ad’s effectiveness on a particular time slot, channel, or audience. The YouTube video ad, by comparison, is much more random and spread out over time as viewers discover the ad organically throughout the day.

What other data were you able to retrieve from the QR code program?

The performance of the QR code was something that I wasn’t sure was going to get a lot of actual scans, but it was definitely going to be cool factor which would be a nice reflection on our company and our innovate products. What I didn’t expect was that it was going increase our mobile user traffic to 26%! We have two websites that sell the same product and but only the Mighty Wallets® site was targeted in the TV Ad. The comparative percentage of mobile users at is only 10%.

We were also able to see what types of smartphones people were using and exactly what percentage of that audience was buying the most. Turns out we got more Android traffic but better conversions from the iPhone users. This could mean a few different things and we are taking all of these factors into consideration as we develop our next wave of TV Ads.

Were there any challenges you found with implementing a QR code program for your videos – either TV commercials or for video on the Web?

It’s funny, when I was working on the call-to-action of our Google TV Ad I was really stuck. I didn’t want to have a catch phase or just a special offer. I wanted to motivate the viewer into action, to engage our TV Ad directly somehow. I had been using QR codes in our products and in our POP displays for our Mighty Wallets® for a while, I was sitting thinking about the call-to-action and then it hit me, put a QR code in the TV Ad! But the truth was I didn’t even know if a QR code in a TV Ad would work. Then I took out my iPhone and quickly scanned the QR code on my monitor and it worked!

There were some challenges in implementing the QR code, however. The first challenge was to find the most appropriate size, so that the ad would be readable on any TV but not too large to distract from the other information in the call-to-action. Another key to implementing the code was to find a way to introduce it so that it would make sense to the casual Smart Phone user who might not have ever scanned a QR code before. So in the call-to-action I introduced it as “Get your Mighty Wallet® at mightywallets, or just Pause it, Scan it and Get it™”.

This same size constraint is even more true to the YouTube version of the ad. One key is to use a simple link in the QR code. The more information in the QR code the more detailed the pixilation is, and the harder to read at a smaller size. I used a free service at the website that generates QR codes that are also trackable. This was a huge advantage in being able to instantly measure the effectiveness of an ad the moment it appeared on air.

What tips do you have for businesses that are considering doing a QR code program with their video marketing?

Remember that you are interacting with your customers through their smartphones, so don’t use heavy downloads or link to websites that are not navigable on a small screen. You should consider serving up special links that are customized for your mobile customer both in format and content.

Another thing is, be sure that you are able to edit the content of the link itself, should there ever be a problem with it. For example, don’t link to something that you can’t change if there should be a need to change the content for a mobile device. Your Webmaster can also serve up specialized mobile versions of your site or you can just direct customers to a special URL that has only mobile content.

Any updates on Google featuring your company, Dynomighty, as a case study in Google TV Ads?

The Mighty Wallet® TV Ad ran on the Google TV Ad platform, which allows advertisers to target specific shows, channels and even air times for each TV ad. With this targeting capacity we customized versions of the ad for specific channels by showing different mixes of Mighty Wallet® designs in the slide-show portion of the ad. This way we had targeted ads specific to the demographics of that particular show or channel. The ads reached millions of viewers with a targeted demographic advantage that made them very effective.

Google said that they are still looking forward “to share success with more Google/YouTube advertisers through a case study”. We are told that it will be coming out very soon. In the meantime, Dynomighty will continue to promote this innovative concept in video advertising, as the retail landscape and video marketing is continually transformed by the engaged smartphone customers that are growing across the US.

Want more information about QR codes? Check out my article at The Video Commerce Consortium: QR codes in mobile video commerce – the present and future of video marketing?