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Quick Response Codes Make any Digital Sign Interactive

By Mike Strand, StrandVision Digital Signage

Lately, Quick Response (QR) codes like these are popping up everywhere. They’re in magazine ads, pasted to store windows, included in coupons, and now you’re beginning to see them on digital signage displays. They’re a natural way to turn the typically one-way communications of electronic signage into a truly interactive platform. There’s tremendous potential as a electronic sign application to give immediate and direct response to electronic signage promotions.

I got excited when I realized the digital signage potential of QR codes. They’re right up my alley since my previous company, StrandVision, was a barcode label software company that I sold to Teklynx. It was easy for me to see that the more than 10-year-old QR codes, married to smart phones, were a natural interactive add-on for digital signage programming. So, we revised some old code to work with our Web-based console so our customers can add QR codes as easily as adding text or a picture. Obviously, there are lots of other places on the Web to create QR codes manually, we just made it automatic.

Digital Signage Interactivity at a New Level

With QR codes, viewers can use their smart phones to interact with an electronic sign in any number of ways. They can visit Web sites, bookmark pages, dial telephone numbers and send text messages or emails. QR codes can be generated to target specific information on the product being shown, allowing viewers to download product, location and even advertisement-specific coupons, which can even be scanned on the phone at the register. They can also be used to access location-specific promotions making the digital media player an interactive communications medium. They give digital signage marketers additional feedback on advertising effectiveness (and sales opportunities) by connecting electronic signage viewers to advertisers’ more traditional marketing resources.

We’ve found that digital signage network administrators and designers are limited only by their imaginations in how they use QR codes for business marketing and general communications. Here are some of the ways that QR codes can be used with electronic signage:

  • Link from company pages to home page or corporate-level information;
  • Link to business hours, additional locations, or to call a support/sales phone number;
  • Link to Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube and other social media sites;
  • Engage customers with trivia contests or other interactive activities;
  • Send instant text messages to gain additional savings or details;
  • Feature special promotions and flash sales;
  • Offer coupons;
  • Offer links to community sites.

Opportunities also exist to sell paid advertising links to business marketing resources:

  • Offer joint promotions with related businesses (maybe neighboring stores);
  • Offer links to local or national advertisers’ Web sites or product pages;
  • Offer links to sponsored products and services;
  • Send text messages to advertisers;
  • Instantly call an advertiser’s support staff with questions or to make a purchase.

There’s also an opportunity to tailor promotions to the particular location or even a single screen:

  • Link to store-specific promotions;
  • Link to flash sales event to reduce inventory;
  • Link to menu specials, appetizer/dessert promotions;
  • Link to contests or memberships that offer in-store prizes.

For employee, visitor or student communications:

  • Link to employee benefit sites, forms and other resources;
  • Link to more detailed medical information;
  • Link to course syllabi or materials;
  • Link to social media pages to share information;
  • Send emails to confirm acceptance of memberships, meetings or to ask questions;
  • Call the HR office or insurance company hot lines;
  • Send a text message with ideas to make suggestions or improve productivity.

QR Code Generator Makes it Practical

The challenge for digital signage software providers, such as StrandVision, is to make it as easy as possible to add QR codes to display pages. The most productive way to incorporate QR codes is to use an integrated QR code generation tool that is built into the software provider’s administration console. In this way, administrators are able to simply make their selection and the familiar QR code is automatically generated and added to the page that is viewed by the public on their digital signage player.

A rudimentary approach would be for administrators to go to a QR code generator on the Internet, type in the information along with their contact information and create the barcode. Then, they would merge it into their electronic sign playback loop manually.

A better approach, one that we’ve taken, is to provide a dropdown menu for virtually every page type – photo, text, etc. The dropdown offers a selection of all of the links that can be offered with QR codes for that page – Web page, bookmark, phone, text, email. The administrator just clicks on the selection and the QR code is automatically generated and instantly added to the intended page in a conveniently selected location on the screen.

Another Reason to Sell Digital Signage

QR codes open a whole new arena for digital signage content. It’s a melding of technologies that plays perfectly with the way people are using mobile communications and ties mobile devices to all of your customers’ online resources and business marketing. It’s the next step in digital sign interactivity that’ll open new opportunities to sell electronic signage technology to your customers.

Mike Strand is founder and CEO of StrandVision LLC, an Internet-based subscription digital signage service that is distributed through resellers. Previously, Mike founded StrandWare, a leading bar code software and AIDC company. Prospective resellers may contact Mike at mjstrand@StrandVision.com.