QR Codes Popping Up All Over the Place

Ruud Kluivers
Written by Ruud Kluivers
on April 06, 2011

Recently I started to see QR codes become more common. In case you wonder what a QR code is: Wikipedia says “A QR code (short for Quick Response) is a specific matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code), readable by dedicated QR barcode readers and camera phones. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The information encoded can be text, URL or other data.”


QR code’s aren’t new, they were invented in 1994 by Denso-Wave a Toyota subsidiary. QR codes aren’t the only two-dimensional codes around. Even Microsoft came up with an implementation called High Capacity Color Barcode (HCCB) also known as Microsoft Tag.

The reason QR codes and their siblings are becoming more visible in the world around us is quite simple: today’s camera-equipped smartphones run apps that decode the QR’s and HCCB’s. QR codes are ideal to communicate a (complicated) URL, aka web address. By just pointing your smartphone to the code and scanning it you’ll be taken to a website or YouTube movie for that matter. That is extremely convenient and prevents you from making mistakes by typing over a web address.


Where to spot a QR
QR codes are appearing in magazines, newspapers, on billboards, shopping windows, on real estate for sale, in the local Home Depot and even on T-shirts.

Obviously in magazines, newspapers, and other publications the QR code can take you to a website with additional or more recent information on the subject that you found in the print publication. In the local Home Depot, the code points to a YouTube movie – an instructional video about the DIY-job at hand. Home Depot has an interest in showing you that the task isn’t that difficult, you can do it, which is a great boost of your confidence.

The shopping windows tag has more information on business hours, and special promotions while the billboard QR code is an extension of the message advertised. A real estate agent could put up a huge QR code so that even while driving by in a car you can point and shoot at the code and get more information on the property for sale or too let. While waiting at a bus stop the QR code in the billboard could be hard to resist.

Information & communication
QR codes are all about disclosing information. I would expect to see many more applications for the codes especially in professional and educational publications. Think about how you seamlessly can link the world of offline print to the always up-to-date dynamic interactive online world. Whether you’ll supply supplements to be downloaded, YouTube movies, simulations or supporting information, point to a new app to be downloaded, the possibilities are endless. And now that the iPad and other tables are supplied with camera’s this even opens up more possibilities.

The number of applications for both iOS and Android is growing almost daily. So in case you haven’t already downloaded an app for your favorite smart device, now is the time.

I invite you to get started with QR codes or Microsoft Tags by creating a tag, its easy. But more importantly I want you to start thinking how you can apply these codes to communicate with your customers and prospects.


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There have been made comments on this article

  1. leanne on at

    I saw these everywhere in Japan a couple of years ago. Always wondered what they were. Thanks for the info. They sound as though they have many applications…

  2. merlon on at

    Check out my QR Code Tshirt!

  3. LJ on at

    QR codes were all over the place at South By Southwest this year. Here are my thoughts for best practices on t-shirts: http://wikithreads.com/tshirtsandembroidery/2011/03/30/qr-codes-are-a-snap-for-t-shirts/

  4. Ruud on at

    I just read about a literary thriller that uses QR codes to support the story, the QR codes guide the reader to locations that are part of the story line. Sorry Dutch only http://www.marketingtribune.nl/nieuws/de-eerste-thriller-met-qr-codes/

  5. Danny on at

    The applications for QR codes are endless. This year at my church (riverpointe.org) we included a code in the flyer we handed out to the congregation that prompted to open and download all PDF files pertaining to the financials. This allowed us to quickly put something together without having to add links to the page. The fact that our church is very digital helped on this too.

  6. Ruud Kluivers on at

    Funny how I am seeing even more QR samples after I wrote this blog post. One of the most striking and impressive QR codes in a public space can be found here http://designyoutrust.com/2011/04/16/giant-qr-code/

  7. Patrick Gallagher on at



    Great article! We’re seeing these codes on everything from cereal boxes to real estate listings to email signatures.

    In terms of practical business applications around WK TAA, we’re piloting using QR codes on book covers as a call to action (sending a customized, prebuilt email notice) or embedded information (contact info, websites, map locations, YouTube video URLs, etc.)

    Your point about combining the static nature of print with the dynamic online world rings true here. Our U.S. Master Tax Guide book has supplemental updates that are posted to a webpage on a regular basis. The ability to nest a small QR tag on our print books for users to scan on the fly for updates is a simple but robust solution.

  8. Ruud Kluivers on at

    HOW TO: Make Your QR Codes More Beautiful

    Seems like every major blog is covering QR codes, is that what we call a buzz?

  9. Ruud on at

    Just noticed this tweet by @Jozefs #wine : First Dutch restaurant winelist with qr-codesNederlands restaurant heeft w… http://bit.ly/h1N9uY #wijn

  10. Patrick Gallagher on at

    Google announces that it is ending both its development and support of QR codes; instead will focus on near field communication (NFC).


  11. Patrick Gallagher on at

    Creative way to use QR codes on a intern resume!!

  12. […] 6, 2011 QR Codes Popping up All Over the Place – An April 18 comment by Patrick Gallagher mentions “piloting use of QR codes on book covers […]

  13. Ruud Kluivers on at

    5 Big Mistakes To Avoid in Your QR Code Marketing Campaign http://mashable.com/2011/08/02/qr-code-mistakes/

  14. Ruud Kluivers on at

    I’ll keep adding to this blogpost, for the simple reason there’s a lot going on in the space of QR. Read this Fast Company’s article “Augmented Reality kills the QR code” http://www.fastcompany.com/1771451/augmented-reality-kills-the-qr-code-star

  15. Ruud on at

    Nissan Sticks QR Codes On Vehicle Window Stickers http://tcrn.ch/qkwN3A

  16. Ruud on at

    I can’t help noticing QR code popping up all over. Web site Bright.nl reports about a proposal by the Dutch Minister Schulz of Transportation to ban QR codes on billboard in the vicinity of high ways. http://www.bright.nl/verbod-op-qr-codes-langs-de-weg talks

  17. Patrick Gallagher on at
  18. Patrick Gallagher on at

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