• Are QR Codes the Next Big Thing for Magazines' Video?

    Most likely you've noticed the black and white puzzle-looking square images popping up all over the place, known as "QR codes." I've been curious about them but I've never had a call to action.

    That changed recently when I was reading an article about Larry Baer, president of the San Francisco Giants, winner of last year's World Series, in my business school alumni magazine. It was a fascinating article about how Baer and his partners had surmounted all kinds of odds to take an underfunded losing team and completely turn them around, all while endearing themselves to their local community through tons of outreach.

    Because my world is so video-centric, as I was reading the article, I periodically thought, "Wow, I'd love to see this guy and really learn more about his style." Alas, a print magazine has traditionally had little opportunity to deliver on that expectation. However, there at the end of the article was a QR code, with the message "Scan the mobile bar code with your smartphone to see Larry Baer talking about applying his HBS training to baseball decision-making."  

    Finally a call to action that resonated! I whipped out my Droid X, scanned the code and instantly a YouTube video opened of Baer being interviewed. The video quality was solid and it definitely gave me a feel for him that I was looking for. Flipping through the magazine, I noticed that all of the articles included a QR code with video at the end. I'm not sure if this was the first time or it's been happening for a while, but the magazine had clearly embraced the concept.

    It was a good start, but there were definitely things that could have been improved. For example, there was little branding on the video to identify it as being part of the story. At the end of the video a whole bunch of unrelated videos from YouTube offered up, which broke the experience. And there was no monetization, including ads or prompts to do something (though none may have been intended either).

    However, those are relatively minor issues. In fact, the experience made me think QR codes can open up a whole new engagement opportunity for print and other publications. It's no secret that a lot of print publishers have been ramping up their video efforts. It seems like QR codes could give them a way of integrating their video better with print. These could be sponsored, or lead to subscription offers. Either way, it feels like QR codes could have a real impact if executed properly.

    What do you think? Post a comment now (no sign-in required).