This is the first, in a series of posts showcasing various ideas and concepts for use in the real world by organisations. Hopefully as I get time, I will continue to post more.

As there is a growing buzz around the use of QRCodes I thought that I would create a real-world concept that could be used.  [message type="info"]I do not claim that these concepts are original, but they will all be achievable using current technology and clients, although I am slightly biased to using XMPie to achieve them![/message]

QRCodes, as we know are fantastic at bridging the offline and online world. Unfortunately many marketeers still seem to be stuck in a rut of using them to bring people to a generic landing page. This is just one use. Personally I like to explore the more interesting concepts of what can be achieved using QRCodes.

This concept is to take the humble advertising billboard or poster. Traditionally used to promote brands and offers. Well, what about creating relevant, location based brand awareness? I have used a well know retailer for this example, Next. What if Next had the following poster outside Picadilly Circus Underground Station in London? There’s a Next store just 15 minutes walk away – but you wouldn’t know that unless you had seeked out that knowledge previously.

Well what about a billboard or poster showing the brand as well as directing people to the nearest store? Passers-by could scan the code, and immediately be directed to Google Maps to show them the walking directions to the nearest store. Because we know the actually location of the advertisement, we can using the correct location.

The Google Maps API is easy used.

http://maps.google.com/maps?saddr=start&daddr=end&dirflg=w
The start should be the starting location,
The end should be the ending location,
The dirflag=w simply indicates that we want walking directions.

We can simply use a database of starting locations, ending locations, store names and store images. Using this together with XMPie we can completely create the example shown. XMPie’s uDirect can connect to the database and read in each line, using the correct store image, and producing the correct QRCode for the Goggle Map route. For a quick video on how easy it is to use XMPie to create QRCode click here.

The hard work, needed upfront is building the database of known advertising point locations, and their respective nearest store. It’s probably best to use longitude and latitude points opposed to  street names and postcodes, as these can be slightly ambiguous at times, as I found out during my tests.

Further use

To extend this example – you could use the QRCode to bring visitors into a relevant landing page – personalised for the nearest store, showing and relevant offers as well as offering the walking directions. This landing page is not a typical PURL (or RURL) as we do not know the person that is visiting the page. However you could create a Group URL (GURL) showing the visitor a site which has been versioned for the local store. This could then be used to collect data, offer local incentives or simply provide tracking and directions.

In conclusion

Personalisation of this sorts tends to be within the hands of cut-sheet printers – well why not use it in a wide-format environment, and start producing relevant wide-format advertising material. In this example, using QRCodes could add significant value back to the end-client, to engage and drive visitors to their stores, as well as providing  tracking and reporting. The same principle can also be used for driving visitors to local attractions and sites.

[message type="warning"]As a possible caveat you might want to do some further upfront work and shorten all the Google Map URL using a URL shortener like bit.ly. This would provide you with clearer QRCode which would be easier to scan by visitors.[/message]