QR codes: The future of mobile media

QR Codes will soon become commonplace. It will be second nature for anyone with a mobile phone to scan codes and get information. If you want to be ahead of the curve and exploit the nascent buzz of QR Codes then now is the right time. South Africa has 100% mobile penetration (49-million population) with smartphone internet-enabled phones consistently on the rise and, therefore, the capability to scan codes. Now compare that with a “banner” ad on Facebook that will only be viewed by a small percentage of SA’s 3.18-million Facebook users.*

If you aren’t mobile-focused, you’re going to be left behind. If you want a clutter-busting idea, then implement a QR Code campaign. I can’t stress enough, though, that you must add value to the user-experience of your brand. QR Codes allow you to give your prospective or current customer vital information, in the palm of their hand, when they need it the most.

Memeburn recently spoke to Philip Warbasse, head of Warbasse Design, a US-based company that specialises in 2D marketing campaigns. They are responsible for a True Blood QR Code TV advert, as well as QR Code marketing for movies such as Indiana Jones and Ironman 2.

Interestingly, they also own PLUSH Mobile Servers. PLUSH MS is an intelligent mobile server solution that provides an organised approach to storing and serving mobile collateral and content.

Memeburn: Tell us more about how PLUSH came about?

Philip Warbasse: PLUSH was built a year ago to deal with what we saw as a potential problem. We are big into QR Code marketing and we realised early on that the challenge is not creating the code, it’s the experience behind it and that needs to be mobile.

We use WURFL and proprietary code to detect the user agent on a handset and deliver the best experience possible. Part of that includes pushing various formats and file types to the server so they are available. For example, a non-hinted .mp4 file for non-iphone devices…

MB: So is this just for campaign mobile content, or is it also fine for your general mobile site, for example?

PW: I want PLUSH to be available for anyone who wants the peace of mind that their QR Code campaign is going to work seamlessly on 99.9% of devices. Anyone can use PLUSH, but a good developer could probably do something competent themselves.

MB: So it’s like a turnkey server solution for people that aren’t fully mobile-focused as yet?

PW: Totally. There’s so many folks out there that don’t want that responsibility. A good developer may still want to stream audio and video through PLUSH. My main concern is that people using QR Codes in their campaigns begin to really think about the user experience.

MB: Can you physically buy a PLUSH server?

PW: It’s a hosted solution. Unlike Google and others, there is no hardware to buy and we don’t co-locate.

MB: If you upload content to the server, does it automatically reformat for the different devices? Or do you guys do that manually?

PW: It does it automatically.

MB: Includes iPad?
PW: Yes, but we have not updated the site to feature iPad yet – swamped.

MB: What about SEO and analytics?

PW: Great question! We don’t use Javascript as a means to track because it degrades on most handhelds. We do track though and it is a critical difference between integrated media and traditional media. We track much more than number of scans. IP, Country, Browser, Referrer, Page, Visits, Time on page….

MB: What about international access? Wouldn’t a campaign hosted on your servers in the US be slower than a locally hosted solution? Bandwidth in South Africa, for example, isn’t the best.

PW: It’s a good question I wish I knew more about – thank you, I’ll investigate. I don’t know. I do know on True Blood we had a lot of international users with no problems.

MB: QR is blowing up, your general thoughts on QR codes? Is it going mainstream this year, or next?

PW: I see it. Mostly because the world is going mobile. I think 2012 is the big year. You’ll see some stuff at Christmas and then it will go off.

Memeburn: What do you think of proprietary 2D codes, like Beetagg and Microsoft Tag?

PW: I think they offer benefits, but at the same time, they fragment the space.

MB: I agree, I think standardisation on QR is essential… and open standards?

PW: We need to create a social tipping point, which is always easier if there is less confusion for the user. But, I believe in competition.

MB: Which have been your biggest projects from which sectors do you see most interest?

PW: True Blood, Iron Man 2 and ‘9’ the movie in that order. The entertainment industry understands brand awareness in a way that most other companies don’t. They usually have very large budgets and like to try novel approaches.

*FB stats by Sherrif Shittu of Web Trends Nigeria – 17 September 2010.



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