QR Codes: Thinking Beyond the Covers

Magazines are including QR CodesGuest Post by Tony Vassiliev

Admittedly I am a bit of technology junkie and typically have at least one electronic device at my disposal. But I have yet to abandon print as a source of news and information. The abundance of media has, however, greatly reduced my attention span. I expect to be engaged at all times and as unreasonable as it may seem, I know I’m not alone. By thinking beyond the covers of your book, magazine or newspaper, and leveraging emerging technology, such as QR codes, you will be able to provide the reader with a richer, more interactive experience.

My Seductive Cuba, by Chen LizraA friend of mine, Chen Lizra, recently published a book, My Seductive Cuba, that combines the story telling nature of Eat, Pray, Love and the travel guide functionality of the Lonely Planet. It is a very passionate book about her adventures in Cuba. As she would write about her adventures, a QR code (next to the story) would link to a relevant video from her trip. Since the link in the QR code could always be updated it made the codes used for restaurant recommendations and directions, as an example, forever current.

QR Codes on pages extend the information given to the reader.Beyond the content, she invested a significant amount of time finding financial sponsors who would help her bring this book to life. When they were organically mentioned in the text, a QR Code was used to link to their website. In some cases it was to a page with upcoming events, in others it was to a page with recipes. Sponsors were particularly intrigued by the fact that they could measure how much traffic they received directly from the book.

QR Code for Havana's Hotel Raquel website

Scan QR Code for more details of the Havana’s Hotel Raquel

If you’re not familiar with QR codes, they are the black and white square barcodes that you can see more often these days in advertisements, signage and on TV. In simple terms it is a physical link to the digital world.  If you want to learn more, don’t be afraid to ask Google; there is plenty of information available.

Here are a few thought starters on how you can leverage QR codes in your publications:

  • Novel: Utilize a Twitter QR code to follow the author and tweet your opinion of the book
  • Self-help: Download templates for tracking personal behaviour improvements
  • Recipe book: Download the shopping list of ingredients the reader needs to purchase
  • Travel Guide: Link to a map of the described location and reviews from other travelers
  • Language: Link to an audio file demonstrating proper pronunciation
  • Text book: Download test questions
  • Instructional: Link to a video demonstrating how to perform that which you are describing
  • Magazine: Link to additional content relevant to the article: videos, games, contests
  • Newspaper: Conduct surveys, gather feedback and deliver timely offers

There are various tools available for you and the reader when it comes to generating and scanning the codes. Many phone providers are starting to include scanner applications into their operating systems. If you want the ability to change the function of the codes you create and track how they are being scanned, consider using a management platform. A free account through Scanvee,* the platform offered by Gauge Mobile, is an example of such.

As you experiment, remember these 5 golden rules:

  1. Assist the reader in how to interact with the QR code
  2. Drive to mobile friendly content
  3. Add value to the reader and make it relevant
  4. Track the performance of your codes
  5. Test the codes before publishing

I truly think print has a long and fruitful future ahead, so long as it evolves with the times and its readers.

*For more information about Scanvee see: QRmediaGuide.com/scanvee/

Tony Vassiliev

Guest Author:

Tony Vassiliev is the co-founder of Gauge Mobile, a Vancouver based company that enables businesses to leverage emerging technologies to communicate more effectively with today’s mobile consumers. Tony worked in publishing for a number of years before submerging himself in the mobile arena.




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