The Shocking Truth About QR Code Use

Posted by Bob Bentz on March 19th, 2012 at 7:27 am

The use of the QR Code increased by 6 times in 2011 and with increased smartphone penetration for 2012, it shows no signs of retreating.

If 2010 was the year of mobile, then 2011 was the year of the QR Code. The percent of print ads containing QR Codes showed growth from below 1% of all print ads in January 2011 to in excess of 6% of all advertising in December 2011.

QR Code Use 2011


While a variety of 2D barcodes were used in the print advertisements, the vast majority (87.8%) of those utilized in print were QR Codes. The Microsoft tag, a multi-colored tag using triangular shapes, was second most popular with 10.2%. The JagTag, DataMatrix Code, SnapTag, and EZ Code made up just over 1% of the use in print advertisements.


QR Code is most popular 2D barcode

The QR Code is the most popular 2D barcode.


Businesses of all types are utilizing 2D barcode technology, although retailers lead with 21.9% of the overall use of bar codes. It would make sense that technology is the second most used category since those scanning bar codes are likely more tech savvy than the average person. Interestingly, automotive was just the seventh top category of use of 2D barcodes.

Top Categories for 2D barcode use


For 2D barcodes to continue growing, it is important that they offer relevant feedback that is of value to the scanners. General commerce and branding are important, but leading the consumer to a value-added features such as a video or mobile coupon is a valuable use of 2D barcode technology.

Unfortunately, some advertisers just don’t get it when it comes to using 2D barcodes. Over 40% of the QR Codes tracked led to brand home pages. Leading a consumer to a home page is usually not going to result in great customer satisfaction, especially if that home page is not optimized for mobile.


QR Codes lead to what?

Too many companies are simply using a QR Code to lead consumers to a website that is not optimized for mobile.


The study of 2D barcodes was done by Competitrack which began studying the use of 2D barcodes in January 2011. Throughout the year, the company identified 7,300 print advertisements that featured 2D barcodes.

Over all of 2011, 4% of all print ads included a 2D barcode, although that number peaked later in the year at over 7% of the ads studied. Oppenheimer Funds was the leader in utilizing 2D barcodes with 85% of its print ads including 2D barcodes.


Bob Bentz is president of Advanced Telecom Services which has been providing Custom QR Codes, with the branding of the company incorporated into the code itself. Its apples to apples comparisons with Custom QR Codes vs. traditional black & white QR Codes shows a scan rate that is 2.3 times greater for Custom QR Codes. If you would like to reach Bentz, you can (how’d you guess?), scan his Custom QR Code below.

Bob Bentz QR Code

Scan the QR Code to be Linked In with Bob Bentz.

Follow Bob Bentz on Google+ or on Twitter @BobBentz.

4 Responses to “The Shocking Truth About QR Code Use”

  1. Gauge Mobile says:

    interesting article. QR code use has increased dramatically, but is that a good thing? Is the ease of creating QR codes leading to poor content. Who's fault is it that sometimes QR codes suck? we'd love to get your comments and thoughts on our blog.


    Gauge Mobile

  2. Bill Skeffington says:

    6%? Wow, I am extremely underwhelmed. To me the key question is what % of ad readers actually used a QR Code, and from only a little over 6% of the print ads having them in the ads, I'd suggest that its probably less than 2%.

    Seems like QR Codes are much ado about nothing here in the USA, just like in Japan where they have been around fro 15 years now.

  3. tom says:

    The shocking truth is that a QR code gets, even if successful, less than 1/2 of 1% scan rate based on total impressions.

    Never mind what percentage then takes whatever action is presented beyond the scan.

    QR codes became a joke in 2012. They didn't have to, but they did. No one takes them seriously anymore. Too many terrible campaigns were released by people who didn't realize they were doing "mobile campaigns, not print." QR may be everywhere but the more there are, the lower percentage of scan rate they get.

    I kind of can't believe anyone continues to hype them anymore.

  4. Thanks for sharing this article about QR codes, we have written several articles about QR codes on our blog as well. http://www.lucidagency.com/qr-codes/qr-codes-used-by-only-5-of-smartphone-owner/

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