Paperboy Finds a Shortcut Around QR Codes

One of the biggest challenges we’ve faced as marketers over the course of the past decade, other than seeing our business change completely, is the best way to connect online and offline efforts. In many cases, digital assets and advertising need to drive traffic to brick and mortar stores, or conversely, local and large print initiatives have to get people online, to subscribe for services, or to buy products.

The first signs of this were visible when agencies started adding URLs to magazine and newspaper ads, then billboards, and so on. This is back when you still needed the www in front of the domain, to remind the less savvy folks you were telling them to go to the world wide web, on a computer. Then computers got smaller, and phones smarter, and someone invented the QR code, allowing people to scan a unique binary image with a mobile device, connecting them with additional information, or in best cases, exclusive offers and added value.

It’s widely known around the office that I’m not the biggest fan of QR codes, pegging them as a gimmick, early on. I truly appreciate the concept, and the attempt to again link offline communications, with online engagement, but think most companies fail to deliver a reward relative to the effort involved: downloading an app, scanning a code, etc.

We’ve actually seen some pretty stellar QR performance lately, in magazines, promoting large reward-driven contests with easy scan and entry. Point-of-sale QR conversions, on the other hand, are largely dismal, exposing at the very least, clear behavioral differences in terms of how and when people are likely to scan.

New to the digital driver seat is a platform called “Shortcut,” formerly known as “Paperboy.” This little engine could definitely upend QR codes, and free our otherwise pristine ads and media from the onslaught of black and white cubic scars.

This app from Kooaba already works with thousands of newspapers and magazines, and hundreds of ads. The list is sure to grow, quickly. The company summed up their motives, in a recent blog post, reflecting a position that ultimately bodes well for marketers, brands, consumers, and Kooaba shareholders. “To us, it’s about creating the best end-user experience by giving them access to great content and deals, objectively searching for the best way to do that. One of the things we do is create a network of advertisers and publishers who work on the same platform so the end-user only needs one single app for both use-cases. And instead of choosing to work with QR codes, we choose to work with image recognition technology. And that is how we’ve been labeled as ‘the QR killers.'”