"Now You're Getting Somewhere" is the headline found in a recent Royal Sonesta print advertisement. Oh really Royal Sonesta marketing/creative team, because when I scan the (very dense) QR Code displayed in the ad, I go absolutely nowhere. In fact, even after trying four or five different code reader apps, and spending several minutes in the process, I still go nowhere. Not a great/optimal experience, mobile, brand or otherwise, especially when the copy alongside the code reads "Scan with your smartphone and learn more about Travel Pass, our guest recognition program." At least the ad provides text/short code information, so that a non-smartphone user can take advantage of the Travel Pass program or, should I say, a smartphone user who cannot scan the QR Code to begin with.
Recently, I wrote about QR Code density and how important it is for advertisers to simplify the URL that is embedded in a QR Code, so that the code itself is a simple and clean as can be, which, in the long run, helps ensure a successful scan.
Scanning should not be a chore, a challenge, a task, an obstacle, etc., because if it turns out that way, chances are the prospective customer will be lost and the existing customer will start to perceive the brand differently and possibly in a negative manner. While I am not sure what the company wanted to use for the scan resolve content, chances are the idea was to link readers of the ad to the Travel Pass page on the company's website. If that is in fact the case, then why not create a code such as the one below. Much less dense and easily scanable, yes?
If you read between the lines, my comments on this campaign have less to do with code density and whether or not scanning becomes a chore, and really more to do with code testing. Question to the Royal Sonesta marketing/creative team: When did you test the code and how did you test the code? A rigorous test schedule would/should have indicated very early on that the code was too dense and difficult, at best, to scan. Testing is often never spoken about with respect to 2D barcode use, but it should be.
Final comment. When developing a 2D/mobile campaign, advertisers and their agencies need to keep one word in mind, seamless.
2D Barcode Litmus Test: FAIL