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QR Codes and Real Estate

May 31 2010

What would you do when confronted with this in the yard?There’s been a lot of talk about QR codes and how they’re going to change the way people get real estate information on the road and in front of properties.  Well I’m glad you found this post before you decided to invest your time and money into making sure your listings are outfitted with this service.

I’ll start by providing you a quick run down on what QR Codes actually are from our good friends over at Wikipedia.

Scan this code with your mobile device to try it out yourself

THE TECH: From Wikipedia: “All though initially used for tracking parts in vehicle manufacturing, QR Codes are now used in a much broader context, including both commercial tracking applications and convenience-oriented applications aimed at mobile phone users (known as mobile tagging). QR Codes storing addresses and URLs may appear in magazines, on signs, buses, business cards, or just about any object that users might need information about. Users with a camera phone equipped with the correct reader app can scan the image of the QR Code causing the phone’s browser to launch and redirect to the programmed URL. This act of linking from physical world objects is known as a hardlink or physical world hyperlinks. Google’s mobile Android operating systemURI redirection, which allows QR Codes to send metadata to existing applications on the device. Nokia’s Symbian operating system is also provided with a barcode scanner, which is able to read QR Codes.[citation needed] supports the use of QR codes by natively including the barcode scanner (ZXing) on some models and the browser supports.” “You mean a consumer can quickly scan that code and get all the information they need on my listing?!” Sounds great, I know.  And truth be told, it functions great too.  SO WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?

THE PROBLEM: I believe that the possibilities of the technology is endless, however, the consumer adoption rate of adding the software that reads the codes to their mobile devices hasn’t grown.  A quick real world example:

I was previously with The Richards Group (a national ad agency in Dallas) and worked on the Patrón Tequila account.  4 years ago we had some really cool QR Code related ideas with some gorilla type of out-of-home marketing; we did a study as to the adoption rate of the technology on phones and it was basically nothing.  Fast forward 3 years, the campaign was still going strong so we thought back to the great idea we had 3 years ago… Maybe it would work now the tech has advanced and hopefully adoption rate increased. Over those three years, the adoption rate of the tech had only gone up 1 percentage point.

The problem here is that the general public is not motivated to download the necessary software on their mobile devices. I’ve heard grumblings that Google is planning on installing readers on to every Android operating system it ships.  This will go a long way to help the adoption rate now that Google has surpassed the iPhone in OS market share.  Google is also continuing a local business program in which they’ll whip out decals to business owners that can be placed on a store front and contain QR codes.  However, who will be the first to use QR codes to communicate messages? Advertisers.

STICK WITH WHAT WORKS: As a marketer, I wish consumers would adopt this technology as it is a great way to deliver a variety of messages in a quick and efficient way.  But it will be an up hill battle all they way. Imagine asking people to turn off their pop-up blockers when browsing the web so advertisers can more easily reach them, or get rid of their TIVOs so they can again be bombarded by advertisements ever 7 minutes. As I mentioned at the top, there is nothing wrong with the tech it self; The question is why should brokers, agents, or any professional spend time and money on a medium that not only isn’t reaching their consumers but usually confusing them as well.