I come across QR Codes in print advertising often that are based on Bitly (aka bit.ly) links. And I made a quite scruffy little video of how I scanned the QR Codes in a Red Market print ad, the QR Codes have Bitly links encoded.
In this post I’ll explain how you and I can look at the scanning stats of a QR Code generated by a third party that’s encoded with a Bitly URL. The video just shows me scanning the ad and shaking the camera way too much
As a service Bitly will provide a QR Code based on the short link you generated. The resulting image is always the same size, easy to fit in a print layout.
If I need to recommend how to create a QR Code for print I always suggest getting one in .eps format with this QR Code generator, but that’s for another post.
Every Bitly link has tracking built in so QR Codes based on these short URLs have tracking too.
For instance the heymans.org bit.ly QR Code …
This is the regular short URL: http://bit.ly/heymans
This URL is encoded in the above QR Code: http://bit.ly/heymans?r=qr
Now every bitly link get’s tracked and there’s a really easy trick to see the scanning and click through stats and that’s by adding a plus sign “+” at the end of the regular link like so:
If we do this with the QR Codes I scanned in the print ad from Red Market we get this:
If you where wondering, you can read an encoded link from your smartphone after scanning the QR Code.
As you may notice we can see that the Facebook QR Code got scanned more than the Twitter QR Code, they created the Facebook QR code about a month earlier but over the last 30 days the Twitter QR Code in the ad got less scans. They clearly did some other kind of campaign in May to generate traffic on their Facebook page.
It is my personal opinion that this use of QR Codes in prints ads is a good thing, linking to your social profiles this way shows you’re thinking with mobile visitors in mind.
By itself this is nothing more than a real world internet link and will not generate much traffic, but using QR Codes is in line with the Red Market “self-scanning your groceries, look how fast and modern” message so I guess it makes sense. But it’s still just a link, alas there’s no other incentive for scanning. The sites a scanner end up on (Facebook, Twitter) are well optimized for mobile visitors so that’s a plus.
They do miss an accessibility opportunity in their print ad by not putting user friendly URLs next to the QR Codes. You should always provide an alternative to scanning.
If you’re still reading and don’t know what the actual purpose for the existence of something lik Bitly is, here’s my totally arbitrary explanation … Bitly is a URL shortener, you give it a long weblink and it makes a short URL for you that does a HTTP 301 redirect, which means it sends you to that original link when clicked or tapped. A short URL is easy to type on a mobile device and it will fit easily in short messages (think Twitter).
Hope you enjoyed this read, I’ve been out of the picture here for way to long due to a drop-dead private workload but my promise of making a QR Code business card tutorial still holds true.