Google Starts Pushing Local QR-Codes For Business Listings, Will It Pay Off?

Google Starts Pushing Local QR-Codes For Business Listings, Will It Pay OffGoogle has begun a massive mobile marketing campaign surrounding Place Pages, the small pages that display info for local  businesses on Google Maps.  What’s interesting is that the centerpiece for the campaign is the use of QR-Codes.

Google is starting things off by sending QR-code decals to some 190,000 local businesses across the US.  Google determined the most searched for and most clicked local Place Pages for the initial run, though a full release is imminent.  The idea is that local businesses can display the QR-code prominently in their store windows for customers to be able to scan and retrieve info back on that business.

When scanned, the QR codes retrieve things like a map, phone number, directions, address, reviews, and a link to the store’s website, which begs the questions- why would someone need that information if they’re already standing in front of the business?

Furthermore, local businesses can also set up coupon offers through their Google directory page, which would turn the QR code into a mobile coupon, and help entice someone standing outside a store to come in.  An offer such as “If you found us on Google, you get 20% off,” for example.  This is where the true benefit lies.

This is an interesting campaign given the fact that 1.) it’s Google and therefore capable of massive scale, and 2.) it’s one of the first large-scale QR-based campaigns to be started in the US.  It’s no secret that QR Codes, while hugely popular in other parts of the world, haven’t quite taken hold in the US as of yet.

With Google’s immense reach and the popularity surrounding Google Maps, it should be interesting to see how users react to the campaign in the long-run and whether Google will continue mailing out the QR codes for businesses.

Still, I think the learning curve associated with QR-codes and the device limitations will hinder the campaign from the beginning.  iPhones and Android-based phones are the only devices capable of easily obtaining a QR-code reader, and a very small portion of normal everyday users carry such phones.  Even then, anyone who’s not even slightly tech-savvy will have no idea what a QR-code is and how to utilize them.

Google better provide extensive and informative call-to-actions with their decals to get people interested and informed about how it all works.  Either way, if any company is going to bring QR-codes mainstream, it would be Google.  Only time will tell.