Monthly Archives: March 2012

FedEx Ships A Failed QR Code

Marketers placing QR codes on vehicles is nothing new. FedEx is only the most recent example. Check out the coverage over at www.wtfqrcodes.com. Others include Steven’s Pass Ski Resort’s QR on a bus and Tissot’s QR on a Nascar vehicle.

The FedEx QR warrants special coverage, however, as it provides a unique experience:

image: QR code on FedEx Van

image source: Tag It Up, LLC

The copy accompanying the QR codes says, ”It’s a whole new package. Help us open it!” A but cryptic but one could argue that it might generate curiosity.

Assuming the van is stopped and your curiosity is piqued you can grab your smartphone, open the scanner app (when oh when will barcode scanning software be embedded in the regular camera software??) and scan away. Just be sure you’re not stepping into traffic as this particular QR is on the street side of the van. Now, scan!

image: FedEx QR Scan Fail

Ouch. Who is this ‘ScanLife’ anyway? Are they related to FedEx? Either way,

FAIL.

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What could have saved this campaign?

As far as QR codes on vehicles go it could be argued that FedEx trucks spend a decent amount of time parked at drop-off and pick-up locations. And while there, shipping-related personnel might have the opportunity, inclination and time to scan the QR code. While this is a cognitive stretch, I won’t dwell on it. Generally, however, vehicles are just not good candidates for QR codes.

Aside from the vehicle issue the other problem is testing and follow-through. FedEx is using a service called ScanLife to create QR code campaigns. The person in charge of the campaign has apparently neglected to activate the campaign in the ScanLife system. There is one sure-fire way to catch this sort of problem, testing. It is not enough to slap a QR code on marketing materials and call it a day. Testing must occur at all points of the campaign as noted in our handy How-To Guide. Testing would surely have saved this one.

Shazam Sacked Advertisers at the SuperBowl

I know the Superbowl is long over and forgotten but there is a lesson in mobile marketing that has emerged.

In mobile marketing circles there was quite a bit of hype about how mobile would be used by advertisers this year. There were one or two on-screen QR codes but viewers needed to be lightning fast to scan them. Then there were audio ID apps that monitored broadcast audio and delivered – or attempted to deliver – a second screen complement to what was playing on the main screen. Shazam is one such app that viewers could use to ‘get more’ about nearly half the advertisements in the game.  But I think both the folks at Shazam as well as the advertisers they worked with either failed to recognize the true SuperBowl experience or ignored it. It’s my opinion that the advertisers got sacked on this one. Read why user context is so critical for mobile in Greg Hickman’s review of this fail over at the Thumbfound blog.

-K

The Bellevue Collection App Promotion Fail

I was recently at the Hyatt Hotel in Bellevue, WA and noticed the following sign as I walked through one of the many passageways and bridges that connect the hotel to the broader shopping experience that defines this shiny, affluent city.

image: Bellevue Collection Sign

It was the image of a mobile phone that caught my eye. (Side note: I feel like the iPhone is the ONLY phone image ever used in promotional materials. I can’t remember ever seeing an Android phone. Ever.) In fact, I actually had my phone in my hand – like a lot of people – and was preparing to try the Personal Concierge app that they were promoting.  Take a closer look at the picture. See if you can figure out how to get the app…..Waiting….

FAIL.

The sign has roughly two messages: one for Belle’s Vue, the fashionista blogger and the other for the mobile app. I see no clear path to downloading the app but there is a URL for the blog, thebellevuecollection.com/bellesvue. Determined, now, to see just how hard it is going to be to get this app I open the browser on my phone and tap in the not-so-short url. Here’s what I got:

image: Bellevue Collection Blog

Hmm. It’s a blog alright but it sure wasn’t meant for a mobile phone. I was using WiFi and not the mobile data network, fortunately, as the images are pretty high-quality. The links and navigation are far too tiny to tap on. I see nothing about the mobile app.

FAIL.

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What could have saved this campaign?

The problems embodied by this campaign really speak to the complexities of mobile as well as the inexperience most marketers have with the medium.

To address the complexity issue there’s no easy way for people to get the app in this case. Even if a QR code had been used – and one should have – it wouldn’t have gone to a site with the smarts to detect the device and re-route the person to the appropriate app market; that would be a sort of mobile nirvana. At best it might have pointed to a simple mobile landing page where the user could self-select their mobile phone type. But that would require building a mobile page, which adds complexity. At worst – and this is where inexperience shows – The Bellevue Collection could have made sure their desktop web page that promotes their app was at least serviceable (it isn’t) for someone dedicated to downloading the app and just point the QR code there. As is, the marketers at the Bellevue collection are relying on people to proactively go to their respective app market, search for the app, and download it. It won’t happen.

In addition to the missing mobile call-to-action there is nowhere on the blog that offers the app. (We’ll ignore the fact that the blog is not mobile-friendly) This is a case of not recognizing the mobile user. The Bellevue Collection is offering a mobile app but has presented only one clear option to anyone who is interested, a link to the blog. The mobile app should be prominently promoted on the blog.

A URL is being promoted to people who are walking by; they are mobile. Do they think someone will write down the url? On what? Well, probably their mobile phone, right? And maybe right into the browser for a quick check to see what’s there.