Author: Ginger Pelz
MGA recently sent me to SXSW Interactive (which I will affectionately refer to as SXSWi) in Austin, TX to immerse myself in all things social media, share ideas with others who are active in this area and return with insight on emerging technologies that will impact the future of our profession. I can happily say that each one of these goals was fulfilled, and then some.
For this post, I will share some techy insights from SXSWi, and in particular, an emerging technology called QR codes.
Three years ago, social media powerhouse Twitter made its big debut at SXSWi. Last year, location-based social network Foursquare made a huge impact on attendees and was still a big favorite this year. At this year’s conference, Quick-Response Codes (QR codes) seemed to be the next big thing.
QR code from http://my.sxsw.com
Our exposure to them began early as we were introduced to them through our badges. In an attempt to reduce the conference’s footprint, SXSW organizers placed QR codes with attendees’ contact information on each badge to reduce the amount of business cards passed around. Once an application was installed on your smart phone, a user can scan the QR code through the phone’s camera and view that person’s information embedded within the code. While including the codes on badges was a good idea in theory, several people had issues with the QR codes there, including myself.
Beyond the badges, though, QR codes could be found everywhere at SXSWi—pasted onto pillars inside the conference center, printed on people’s shirts, and basically stuck to anywhere they could possibly be stuck to. This technology is still in its infancy in the U.S., but these codes could make a big impact for marketers and public relations professionals down the line. This is a way that a consumer or stakeholder can “opt-in” to view additional content about a brand or a project from the convenience of their mobile phone, something that will continue to become a big theme in the future.
MGA VP of Public Affairs Kip Cheroutes frequently does business in Japan and has mentioned that he saw these codes in Japan as far back as three years ago. Since the codes were first created there, it only makes sense. According to Kip, at grocery stores a shopper would scan the QR code of a produce item, for example, and be sent to a video of the produce farmer discussing the methods of growing that particular product.
While scannable barcodes are only beginning to make their mark on the U.S., we expect them to make a big impact on public relations and marketing in the coming years.
How could you see this helping your company or organization?