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A case for SMS over QR codes.

QR codes are the rage in marketing.  I'm not yet a full-on fanboy.

Adoption rates are low.  The user experience is spotty.  Today's piece on CNN summarizes many of the key reasons, including the most basic – it is complicated and time-consuming.  My earlier posts on misusing QR codes noted that many marketers are leading customers to content that is largely unsatisfying.  Why go through the bother of snapping a QR to get the same content I could have gotten by typing a URL?

Asking consumers to text DEMO to 1234 to view a product demonstration is familiar and uncomplicated, can be done on every smart phone, in every lighting environment.  To me, that sounds like the quickest response.

Clearly, we need to avoid blanket prognostications.  Tech-savvy consumers and professionals are prime candidates for using QR codes.  It's hard to flip through an issue of Wired without seeing QRCs from marketers as diverse as The Glenlivet, Goldman Sachs and Microsoft.

We may reach a tipping point as QR readers become native features within smart phones, and as their quality improves.  We may also encounter alternatives to QR readers – I've had good experiences to date interacting with print ads embedded with Google Goggles.

Mobile is an opt-in response device more so than an advertising medium.  It has the power to blur offline and online marketing.  It is a central part of a brand's overall "screen strategy" in which we seamlessly link the power of sight, sound and motion across TV, online and mobile.

Marketers do best when they embrace fundamental human behaviors.  We all know how to send text messages.  Inserting an SMS call to action may be a better alternative to inserting a  QRC, which may not work, depending on the lighting, may not be enabled on the phone, or may or not be fully understood by most people.