6.2% of Americans respond to QR codes in ads and messages: Comscore

Advertisers who are spending their money on QR (quick response) campaigns, using a pictorial code to ‘continue’ an ad or message on a phone or similar device, are not off their mark, according to the latest data from digital research firm Comscore.

A study by the agency found that in June 2011, 14 million mobile users in the U.S., or 6.2 percent of the total mobile audience, scanned a QR or bar code on their mobile device.

QR codes are usually printed in magazine and newspaper ads or on product covers to add an element of video and interactivity to an otherwise static or dull message (see picture above.)

Once the code is read by the mobile phone (using a special app,) the picture of the code is then processed and decoded, usually into a web-url.

The web-url then takes the ‘picture taker’ to the firm’s (advertiser’s) website or product page, usually for some contest or video. As a result, what used to be a static advertisement or message suddenly achieves ‘life’ and interactivity.

Many people have QR codes painted on the backsides of their business cards as well and these can then be ‘decoded’ into their names, addresses and phone numbers for easy transfer on to the phone memory.

QR codes are considered a more intuitive way to jump from printed matter to digital media than simply giving the url-address of the advertisers’ website and expecting readers to copy it into their mobile or PC browsers.

The Comscore survey underlines the effectiveness of the technology.

“QR codes demonstrate just one of the ways in which mobile marketing can effectively be integrated into existing media and marketing campaigns to help reach desired consumer segments,” said Mark Donovan, comScore senior vice president of mobile.

The study found that a mobile user that scanned a QR or bar code during the month was more likely to be male (60.5 percent of code scanning audience), skew toward ages 18-34 (53.4 percent) and have a household income of $100k or above (36.1 percent).

A demographic analysis of those who scanned a QR or bar code with their mobile phone in June revealed an audience that was more likely to be male, young to middle-age and upper income. Men were 25 percent more likely (index of 125) than the average mobile user to scan QR codes, representing 60.5 percent of the scanning audience.

More than half of all QR code scanners were between the ages of 18-34 (53.4 percent). Those between the age of 25-34, who accounted for 36.8 percent of QR code scanners, were twice as likely as the average mobile user to engage in this behavior, while 18-24 year olds were 36 percent more likely than average (index of 136) to scan, Comscore said.

More than 1 of every 3 QR code scanners (36.1 percent) had a household income of at least $100,000, representing both the largest and most over-represented income segment among the scanning audience.

The most popular source of a scanned QR code was a printed magazine or newspaper, with nearly half scanning QR codes from this source. Product packaging was the source of QR code scanning for 35.3 percent of the audience, while 27.4 percent scanned a code from a website on a PC and 23.5 percent scanned codes from a poster/flyer/kiosk.

The study also analyzed the source and location of QR or bar code scanning, finding that users are most likely to scan codes found in newspapers/magazines and on product packaging and do so while at home or in a store.

Among mobile users who scanned a QR or bar code on their mobile devices in June, 58.0 percent did so from their home, while 39.4 percent did so from a retail store and 24.5 percent did so from a grocery store. Nearly 20 percent scanned a QR code while at work, while 12.6 percent did so outside or on public transit and 7.6 percent did so while in a restaurant.