Print Ads in Kenya go QR code crazy!
It was just over a year ago when I wrote in this blog about what was probably one of the first mainstream print ads I had encountered in a Kenyan newspaper that had a QR code. Indeed, QR codes have become more or less a permanent fixture in lots of international print ads to the extent that its no longer unique or special to see them. To some extent, you could say, it feels as if QR Codes have become de rigueur but as is normally the case lots of Kenyan or African print ads lag behind, in this respect.
When it comes to QR codes in all sorts of traditional advertising including print ads, the jury is still out as to whether or not they actually add value to marketing objectives. Downloading, installing and using a QR code reader on your mobile device can be a cumbersome process and frankly even a die-hard technophile like me only rarely uses a QR code reader (unless its absolutely essential with the right kind of incentives to do so). I dare to imagine how many average mobile users in Kenya or otherwise find it easy to do so.
To get to the heart of this blog post, it comes as something of a surprise that over the last couple of days I picked up at least three print ads in mainstream Kenyan Newspapers that had QR codes. This really made me scratch my head since I wondered how many Kenyans would actually bother to use them? Perhaps I am a little naive in this respect but clearly Brands and/or Businesses as well as their Ad Agencies seem to think this is the way to go? Or perhaps they see it as a way of validating how “with it” they are with the times? Ultimately, experimenting is a good thing if nothing else to see what the results are.
Going forward, whatever the case, one thing is certain, QR codes are certainly taking off in Kenya as well as the rest of Africa and this can only mean that the growth of Smartphones is starting to make an impact on traditional forms of advertising across the board. In addition, for QR codes to really work, there need to be compelling incentives for consumers to actually use them? I would love to see more ad copy that tells me “scan this code to win Kes. 1 Million Kenyan Shillings” or “scan this code to get free products from us” (The Nivea example in this blog post does a decent job in this respect).
I think that in their current form the QR codes captured in most of the print ads illustrated in this blog post are a little passive and could be much more powerful if the call(s) to action made you really sit-up, take notice, and scan them. In addition, something that really gets to me is that QR codes are accessed via mobile devices and therefore its a glaring mistake that most of the time the destination link or web site is NOT mobile optimized. This quite frankly does not make sense but I see it happen almost everyday. Anyway, that’s my 2 cents on QR codes in print ads in Kenya and Africa. Whats your take? I’d love to hear what you thoughts are on the use of QR codes for advertising.