Google QR encoder API

If you are looking for Google QR API information use this link
- http://www.Cognation.net/QR/Google_api.htm

If you are looking for QR posts on my blog use this link
- http://blog.collins.net.pr/search?q=qr

If you are looking for the Telstra www.QRious.com.au  QR campaign pdf use this link

If you read all the info below and are looking for a high level deck to convince the C"suite"
to implement QR codes use this pdf deck.
- http://www.Cognation.net/QR/QR_Codes_and_You.pps


60 Second QR-codes
for dummies Overview

For those of you who STILL think 2D codes are a geeky toy – I’ve been using a new “description” when developing marketing campaigns for clients lately;

“Think of QR codes as a right mouse button to anything physical. Anything you want ‘more information about’ just click.

So every movie poster, every advertisement shown on tv, every compact disc label in a retail store should have a qr code on it.”


So What Are QR Codes? 

QR codes are the commercial name for a type of 2D(dimensional) bar code.

They are different to a 1 dimensional barcodes - which have lines running in vertical strips from left to right like the barcode you may be familiar with on a bar of chocolate in the supermarket.

A 2D barcode is different in that it has boxes running both left to right on the horizontal axis and also up and down on the vertical axis as well.
Each small box or what we call a ‘pixel’ contains information, for example the QR code below says http://www.cognation.net/profile/index.html 

The 3 “big boxes” in the corners simply tell the camera which way the code is orientated, so QR codes can be snapped in any direction but generally are printed with the 2 big boxes in the top and one on the left.


Where Did QR Codes Come From?

QR codes were originally invented in Japan by Denso for industrial bar codes on packaging for warehousing and production purposes

In their wisdom they realized that this “standard” would be more beneficial if everyone could use it, so they open sourced the technology and now anyone can create, read and implement QR code technology for free with no license fees being required.

There have been several other 2D code technologies available over the years but all required some form of license fees as such they haven’t been widely accepted and adoption results have been disappointing.



How Did QR Codes End Up On My Phone?

In the 90’s the use of QR codes were rapidly changed by all of the Japanese mobile carriers sitting down and agreeing to implement QR software into their mobile phones. Originally it was just a concept for delivering business card information.

For example the QR code below has a VCF card with my name, phone number, company name and email address. This is a highly efficient way to ‘store’ this information and by printing this 2-d image on the back of your business card allowed for very rapid deployment of information transfer into your electronic address book both on the phone and your desktop.

A few years ago USA mobile carriers tried to 'milk money' out of their customers with 'proprietary bar code' systems so they can charge clients for reading codes and publishers for printing codes.

in addition certain USA based companies are trying to claim patents around the process of reading QR codes (obviously standing on the back of Japanese inventors).

This is why 2D bar code systems in the USA are so flawed - greed.

It's a shame considering the inventors of QR codes, Denso, were so visionary to let anyone use their codes for free that people are now trying to stand on their shoulders and rip people off. QR codes can be created by anyone license free and most readers can be downloaded to any camera enabled smart phone for free.

If someone tries to charge you to print a proprietary code - just say no thanks, and use QR codes for free.


So What Exactly Can QR Codes Do?

QR codes can be read by almost any phone with a camera.
There are a variety of QR code readers/software applications available to download from the internet for free.

Remember any QR code can be read by any reader. There are some variations on functionality but this is outside the scope of this overview.

QR Codes can be implemented to do the following;

  • Display Text Only – you might want to ‘push’ an address or some other form of information as text to the handset.
    e.g. 40% off sale this Thursday to Sunday - our address is 255 George St.
  • Initiate Email Transaction – QR codes can not only initiate an email but pre-populate text into the email

e.g.      Message: Dean@Cognation.net
           Subject:   “Please add me to your mailing list“.

  • Initiate SMS transaction – QR codes are often used to initiate sms.
    e.g. QR code on poster to sms Vote for “Danny” in this weeks American Idol
  • Initiate Browser Session – Most QR marketing codes initiate a browsing session for the phone to a particular website landing page (which allows for great analytics tracking of advertisements success – see landing page topic below).
  • Initiate Audio Stream – You can use a QR code to initiate the download an audio track.

    e.g. Lets say your client is Sony Records - on the billboard
    posters/magazine advertisements you place a small QR code - this code could download a stream of 10 second audio track previews for the reader to listen to right then and there onto their handset.
  • Initiate Video Stream – Any phone that allows video to be displayed can use QR codes to initiate playing of a video stream.

e.g. “Iron Man 2” QR movie poster campaign which had a QR code to access the movie's mobile site including trailers and interviews to be directly played on your mobile handset while in the cinema foyer.



So What QR Reader should I use?

QR readers are pretty much the same. Every mobile phone smart OS has more than a few software developers offering different applications. Be sure to try a few until you find one you like.

Unfortunately personally I feel ALL QR READERS are beta level at best. There are none (at least that i've seen) that do anything smart.

When will we see a QR code reader that;

  1. Stores the last 50 codes your read for later access from your mobile.

  2. Uploads codes you've read to a web page that allows you to access them from a desktop browser, allowing you to "tag" or group them at a later date or at least view the content from another browser on you pc.

  3. Allow you to sms or email a qr code to a friend once you've read them.

Basically as i see it QR code readers (and therefore their developers) are in the dark ages (lol feel free to hire me for further product application design).


What are some real world uses of QR codes?

There are almost no end to the number of real world uses for QR codes.

- House Sale signs should have a QR code that leads to a mobile microsite with text details, vcf file for broker contact details, map of the surrounding area.

- Products should be stamped with QR codes directly that when scanned link directly to operating and maintenance manuals. How many times have you tried to track down an online manual for some old appliance or gadget?

- Concert tickets should show a jpg of the event location and start times.


What are some great QR campaigns?

The key to a QR campaign is GIVE PEOPLE A REASON TO CLICK!!! If you fail at this basic step there is nothing that technology can do to help you but here are some great examples.


1/ Zoo Records "Hidden Sound" QR codes campaign
I love it, this guerilla campaigning is exactly what QR codes should be about.

Zoo Records is one of the few who are still fighting. As part of their effort to keep the music fight alive, they decided to come up with a campaign that would create buzz about the music and artists behind it…. without spending a lot.



2/ JC Penny "Give a Little Magic"
I love it, this guerilla campaigning is exactly what QR codes should be about.

IF ever there was a cool use for QR codes (not just practical), this might just be it. JCPenney’s new “Who’s Your Santa” campaign has a QR code extension for 2011, where everyone who buys a gift for Xmas will receive a unique QR code Gift Tag or “Santa Tag” as they are calling them… http://www.digitalbuzzblog.com/jcpenney-voice-message-qr-code-santa-gift-tags


3/  Kellogs "Crunchy Nut" random morning videos
I thought this was a great campaign to randomly fill your morning while eating your cereal

Running a campaign, which is titled "It's Morning Somewhere" the idea behind the campaign is that Kellogg's has placed a QR Code on the back of Crunchy Nut cereal boxes.
When the code is scanned, the customer is brought to a very simple mobile page, which is divided into three sections. The top section displays a product logo, the middle section is a video screen which displays the copy "Right Now: It's Morning in Somewhere" and the bottom section displays an image of a cereal bowl with the words "It's Morning Somewhere."

The cool part is by randomizing what you land on there is something different for you to view from around the world every morning (no i dont know how many videos they did).



So What QR publisher/analytics platform should i use?

So if you read this far you obviously think QR codes have potential. And if you are a business/content provider/developer you are thinking how can i use QR codes to add value to my offerings.

Like anything you can do a simple code generation but eventually you are going to need to "manage" and "track" large numbers of QR codes you have publish.

There are a whole class of software applications out there to help you do this - The problem is a lot of these companies are "doing it wrong".

This isn't a bad thing but you just need to understand the issue of "Direct" and "Indirect" QR codes and what it means moving forward. 

For example I was sent the BeQRious announcement announcement about their new QR management platform.  

As you can see from the screenshot above if you use one of their codes that the platform generates it doesn't actually lead to your website but leads to their website which they then redirect to your site. - Yeh ok but if they turn off the servers everything stops working. 

It's these shortcuts that people dont understand the ramifications that are going to give QR code management platforms a bad name.

Instead you should ALWAYS have a web url QR code go to YOUR servers and then get redirected by your DNS eg www.Cognation.net/QR/123 that then redirects to the mobilised content you want to serve up for that particular campaign. 

NEVER rely on someone else to be "in the middle", if you do and they go out of business or decided to jack up the rates all of your deployed codes will stop working (for the same reason i hate MsTags).

As i said before this isn't a bad thing but you just need to understand the issue of "Direct QR codes" versus "Indirect QR codes" that use URL Redirection and what it means moving forward. As long as you understand the pro's and cons you can move forward fully educated.

For a longer explanation of why this is bad and why Fred who works at Leo Burnett is an idiot check out this blog post on URL redirection and owning the first point of resolution - http://blog.collins.net.pr/2012/04/fred-who-works-at-leo-burnett-is-idiot.html 

If you dont understand the issues, hire me, i'll make sure you step around the pitfalls of QR implementation.



How do I find out more?

Feel free to contact Cognation for a briefing call to understand how you and your marketing campaigns might be able to benefit from QR codes. I can help with the most simplest question through to a more complex long term engagement.



Dean Collins

+1-212-203-4357   New York
+44-20-3129-6001 London