I first blogged about QR codes in October 2011 when the brilliant (and now much copied) Tesco campaign was launched in Korea.

Tesco established a virtual store in subways with ‘Supermarket aisle’ displays. This turned a boring subway wait into a productive and time saving visit for customers and for Tesco it provided a 130% boost to their home delivery service as well a great brand exercise.

I have to admit that I was one of those that thought Near Field Communication (NFC) would signal the death of QR codes.

NFC is a short-range wireless connectivity technology that enables data transfer through a simple touch of devices – you know – that chip in your new credit card.

What’s the difference?

Simply expressed, I see NFC as payment/transaction based and QR as a marketing tool.

NFC requires a transmitter chip to be attached to the item you want to communicate with and therein lies the problem.  Given that QR is now mainly being used for promotions the problem is just how NFC would work across the spectrum of ‘throw-away’ promotional media – newspapers, magazines, business cards, clothing and other POS material.

I recently attended the Australian Business Events Expo in Sydney (ABEE) and sat in on Corbin Ball’s masterclass, ‘Understanding the Technology Transforming Events.’

Every exhibitor at the event had a QR Code, as did every visitor.

Corbin on QR codes…

‘Would you like an almost free means of digital lead exchange for your meetings? Or inexpensive electronic ticketing using mobile phones? Or a means of providing paragraphs of information and/or web links to your attendees without the use of paper?’

In this age of content marketing these words from Tony Vassiliev of Gauge Mobile make sense:

“For any of you still thinking QR codes are a fad, I challenge you to do the following: think of them as hyperlinks or buttons rather than widgets. They are intended to connect real world communication elements with interactive, rich media content. In order for them to be truly effective and gain mass acceptance, they must accomplish the following:

1. Be relevant in their context
2. Provide added value
3. Deliver mobile friendly content

Once the advertiser gets over the novelty of these codes and begins to implement them with the end user in mind, then I predict a long and prosperous future for the QR code.”

I have to agree with Tony.

Whichever side of the NFC vs QR Code debate you agree with..one thing’s for sure…with the massive uptake of mobile technologies, brands have to look at integrating mobile barcodes into their mobile marketing strategy and see where they can help meet their objectives.