From the Editor: A QR Code: What the Heck Do I Do With That?
A number of years ago, I was editing some articles at home; my brother was over, and we got to talking about the [brackets] that writers and editors put around paraphrased words in quotes, usually used to clarify something. My brother, who is quite intelligent, had seen those brackets in news stories all his life and never knew what they were for—he thought they were typos. It never occurred to me that readers may not know what certain symbols mean. We know because we're in the industry. What else did this apply to? … I wondered.
In this issue's Guest Column, UBM's Paul Miller writes about an audience-focused (or "outside-in") approach to advertising strategy—whereby a marketer decides on its budget allocation for each medium based on the amount of time its target audience spends with each medium.
I was reminded of various ads in the previous issue (May/June) of Publishing Executive that used QR codes—six in all. The QR codes caught my eye and instantly gave me a reason to look more closely at the ads, but I wondered if most readers knew what to do with the QR codes. Maybe most Publishing Executive readers would know, as they're in the industry. But my guess is that that is not necessarily the case. Only two advertisers spelled out for readers what to do to "activate" the QR codes and what you would be accessing by doing so.
Even saying, "scan with smartphone" doesn't clearly communicate what to do. I tested this theory on several friends, showing them some of the ads, and they did everything from take a picture of the QR code to look for scanning apps (having no idea that the little box thing was called a QR code).
Publishing Executive is trying its first editorial QR code, along with a new editorial … um, I'm not sure what to call it … treatment: We are running an interview along the bottom of the entire print magazine, so to follow the interview, you have to read one line on every page, until you get to the end—well, it's not really the end, and that's where the QR code comes in. The interview is too long to include the whole thing in print (with just one line on each page), so we put in the URL where you can find the interview in its entirety, and we included a QR code that lets you go straight to the interview using your smartphone. And, we tell you how to make the QR code work.