QR Codes: Call It A Comeback

Those pixelated-looking patterns snapped with a phone offer huge ROI

QR Codes: Call It A Comeback

Those pixelated-looking patterns snapped with a phone offer huge ROI

A quick response (QR) code is two-dimensional barcode that, when scanned with a smartphone, instantly provides consumers with information about a product or service. The biggest difference between a QR code and traditional barcode is the amount and type of data it can hold. QR codes can hold hundreds of times more data than barcodes and, therefore, offer scanners a robust experience with a business by directing them to just about any type of online content.

So it’s no wonder that marketers adopted their use in order to easily deliver not just product or service information to consumers, but messaging such as promotional offers, contest entries, post-purchase rewards, and more.

Although QR codes have been in use for decades, and were hugely popular by 2011, they had all but vanished by 2018. What happened? Consumers, already over the technology’s novelty, were further dissatisfied or frustrated by content that didn’t live up to the hype, broken links, etc.

Enter the pandemic, with the demand for contactless…everything. Suddenly, being able to, say, read a takeout menu without actually touching it was a huge advantage. And with this touch-free lifestyle still with us for 2021, and with smartphones now able to automatically capture QR data without a third-party app, it’s once again time for small- and medium-sized businesses to add easy, inexpensive QR codes to their marketing plans. To wit: a 2018 study by Juniper Research — that did not take the pandemic into consideration, of course — predicts that, worldwide, 5.3 billion QR code coupons (just coupons!) will have been redeemed by 2022. Here’s how you can incorporate these handy tools into your marketing plans:

Bridge the gap

It can be challenging to get your audience to visit your app or website simply by listing the URL on printed material, whether that be product packaging, direct mail, out of home advertising, etc. The likelihood that they’ll type in even a short URL is low. But offering a QR code to instantly snap takes consumers directly into your online presence.

Save space

A two-centimetre-square QR code can hold about three or four kilobytes of data, which is more than enough to instruct a smartphone to do any of the following (imagine how much additional print space it would take to offer instructions for all of these actions):

  • offer a virtual business card with much more info than a cardstock version
  • send a text message or email to — or phone — a specific recipient
  • send coordinates to a map
  • reveal promo codes and upload them to a checkout screen
  • add a calendar event
  • follow a social profile
  • download an app


Track it

Every action taken by a consumer using a QR code becomes valuable (free) information for your business. You can determine when and where they’re snapping, how many times, and from which device and operating system. In addition to testing of the original message (where the QR code lives), you can tweak the action initiated by the code without having to modify it at the source.

Easy does it

So, where to begin? As a Star Metroland Media–connected business, all you have to do is ask. Our consultants will help you use our new QR code creator tool, which will generate a code you can place on print ads or other collateral. In fact, Torstar newsrooms use it to offer readers more information on news stories, so it’s already a familiar tool for our readers. We’ll coach you about content and context, winning calls to action, and more.

Join the momentum. Optimize your marketing spend and ad performance with QR codes. Contact us to get started.

Get Started

We’re ready to help you put these learnings into practice. Complete the form below and a Marketing Consultant will be in touch.