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QR Codes Boast Surprising Buzz, According to Nielsen

21 Mar, 2012 By: Jackie Jones

NEW YORK – Critics of quick-response (QR) codes have long held to the belief that only marketers are fans of the advertising strategy, while consumers could care less. However, new data from Nielsen/McKinsey’s NM Incite suggest that public adoption of QR codes is on the rise.

Online buzz about QR codes increased to 0.15 percent of all online conversation this month, compared to 0.002 percent in June 2011, according to Nielsen/McKinsey.

“QR codes have become an increasingly popular tool among marketers for bridging their offline and online content,” said Nielsen/McKinsey, who added that online conversation about QR codes is now “more than alternatives such as ‘near field communication,’ ‘augmented reality’ and ‘image recognition’ combined.”

How consumers react to QR codes is mixed, though evenly split across the board, Nielsen/McKinsey noted, with 11 percent of social media users against QR codes and 11 percent in favor. An overwhelming majority – 78 percent – of people were neutral on the topic, based on an analysis of QR code-related Tweets posted to Twitter last month. Nielsen also found that men are the most vocal when it comes to QR codes, generating 70 percent of messages, according to the analysis.

While the latest news in support of QR codes is a boost to marketers who are fans of the online tool, the debate over QR codes’ usefulness isn’t likely to go away anytime soon. In August, comScore Inc. reported that QR codes had a long way to go before being adopted by mainstream consumers (Response This Week, Aug. 16, 2011).

“QR codes demonstrate just one of the ways in which mobile marketing can effectively be integrated into existing media and marketing campaigns to help reach desired consumer segments,” said Mark Donovan, comScore senior vice president of mobile. “For marketers, understanding which consumer segments scan QR codes, the source and location of these scans, and the resulting information delivered, is crucial in developing and deploying campaigns that successfully utilize QR codes to further brand engagement.”

Continued adoption of the marketing measure will depend on marketers helping consumers overcome a lack of understanding of just what QR codes are and how they work, according to marketing firm Russell Herder (Response This Week, Oct. 11, 2011).

“The mere employment of QR codes is not enough to drive consumer engagement and marketing results,” said Carol Russell, CEO of Russell Herder. “It is important for marketers to know their audience and how they will react to this tool and ultimately how to maximize the opportunity.”

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