Check it Out: I Can See My QR Code From Here!
Ever been in an airplane, on top of a roller coaster hill, ski lift or other high place and said, “I can see my house from here!”? Well, now you can add a new expression to that list: “I can see my QR code from here!”
Austin, Texas-based management consulting firm Phillips & Company has launched Blue Marble, a new marketing service that puts QR codes onto the rooftops of businesses, city buildings, schools, etc. As a result, retailers incorporating this technology can now turn their rooftops into virtual billboards, viewable from space via satellite images which can be accessed on Google Maps and Google Earth.
While this might sound like a crazy idea, when you look closer at the statistics you find these folks may be on to something. After all, there’s no denying the fact that Google Earth is popular — it’s been downloaded over 1 billion times. And QR codes are picking up steam — comScore reported that 14 million mobile users scanned a QR code in June. Of those 14 million people, 58 percent scanned a QR code from their home, while 39 percent scanned a QR code from a retail store.
The Blue Marble service has been touted as cheaper and more accessible than a regular billboard. Customers pay $8,500 for the installation plus $200 per year for maintenance and upkeep. That doesn’t seem too bad compared to physical billboards, depending on size and location. Online resource site eHow estimates a cost of $75 to $200 per month for a billboard in a rural area, $900 to $2,500 per month for city and interstate signs. However, QR codes have a much wider scope — a range that includes near-earth orbit.
But is that scope really as wide as Blue Marble thinks it is? Remember the comScore stat that said 39 percent of consumers scan QR codes in retail stores? Companies have been putting billboards on rooftops and similar places near airports for years. This is a great idea for physical billboards, but for QR codes … not so much. After all, these billboards are near where airplanes take off and land. Cell phones and other electronic devices must be turned off during takeoff and landing. Therefore, putting QR codes in locations like these makes little sense because the codes won’t be able to be scanned, which is the whole point.
Physical billboards can leave lasting impressions based on their designs, while QR codes all look the same. Unless there’s some other design element that wasn’t included in any of the articles I’ve read about this, people won’t even know what company, product or service the QR code is advertising.
My other problem with this is that you have to take a picture to scan the QR code. Chances are pretty good that a consumer is most likely looking up a store location via their smartphone. Is there a way to scan the QR code while it’s in the Google Earth app? Wouldn’t you have to print out the code to scan it? Or could you take a screenshot, then scan that? Or would you have to use another smartphone to scan the code on your smartphone? Any way you look at this scenario, it sounds way too complicated and involves way too many steps. Consumers want information fast and easy. This is pretty much the exact opposite.
What if the Google Earth website or app crashes? Well, when the one place it’s easiest to scan QR codes (in this scenario) crashes, this type of advertising is pointless. As far as I know, Google Earth will do nothing to promote these QR codes. And who really goes to Google Earth to access information about products? The site seems a bit of a mismatch of interests.
Yes, it’s an awesome idea and cool concept to be able to access information and marketing messages from space, but honestly I don’t see the practicality. I’ll compare this concept to corn mazes and crop circles. They might be cool to look at from above, but there usefulness is limited.