On Tuesday, I posted about a very funny (but appropriate) response I recently saw to a question about the use SnapTags over QR Codes. (In case you missed it, you can see the post here.) But funny and thought-provoking comments aside, the issue itself still stands—which is better and why?
With the rise in number of proprietary 2d mobile barcodes being applied to everything from direct mail to posters, it’s a relevant question. Go with the open source code or the proprietary code that comes with more bells and whistles? Most of the issues related to SnapTag apply to other proprietary barcodes, as well, so let’s pick on SnapTags.
- SnapTag and other proprietary tags are just that — proprietary. They require you to buy into someone else’s system and pay them to do it.
- Proprietary tags come with more upfront functionality than QR Codes, but while the code itself may be proprietary, the functionality isn’t. You can get all the same functionality with QR Codes (such as the ability to track in detail or encode personalized URLs) with a little programming that someone on your staff can probably figure out for free.
- That is, if you even need all that functionality in the first place. Most of the tracking you need may be gotten by using a URL shortener (which you probably want to do anyway) that tracks for you. Not everyone needs to track unique hits or embed personalized information.
- Proprietary tags still have the challenge of being recognized by the public as being a code readable on the user’s smartphone, except they have the additional barrier of requiring a proprietary reader. Viewers have a better chance of having a QR Code reader (any kind of QR Code reader) than they do the proprietary one. So you have an extra hurdle of requiring that extra step before they can view anything. (Hmmm . . . did your incentive cost just go up?)
- Plus, you still have to provide scanning and download instructions just like a QR Code. There are far less people who recognize proprietary codes like SnapTag than QR Codes.
- Proprietary codes require URL redirection. This means that the URL you are generating is not your URL, but a SnapTag or other proprietary URL. This means that should the company turn off its servers, the code goes nowhere. (Here’s one expert’s take on this — worth your while to take a look.)
- Plus, as a user, proprietary codes just creep me out. Maybe it’s because I write about these things too much, but proprietary codes just scream, “I’m tracking you!!!” while QR Codes may or may not be set up for that level of detail. I feel more anonymous with QR Codes, and when I’m responding to any kind of marketing schtick, I like it that way. Maybe that’s just me.
Granted, if you want an all-in-one-package that is just handed to you with little effort and your campaign is going to be completely over in a very short span of time and it’s worth it to your client to get in, get out, and get what they need quickly, proprietary codes offer a lot of ease of use and functionality. But taking the long-term view? As for me, I’m sticking with QR Codes.