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Augmented Reality vs QR Codes

Augmented Realty and QR Codes are both effective technologies that enhance print mail pieces with digital content such as videos and webpages recipients view on their mobile devices.

Which digital enhancement is best for your campaign can depend on several factors, including the campaign goals and tracking requirements. While the user experience with both technologies is somewhat similar, there are several subtle, and some not so subtle differences between the two. Let's have a look:

QR code: the user can scan a “2D barcode” imprinted on a mail piece to view digital media on the web. This content can be a web page, a video file, pdf, contact info, etc.

  • One potential advantage of QR codes is personalization, that is, each recipient can be provided a unique QR code that will take them to a custom, personalized web page.
  • All QR codes can be scanned with a number of inter-compatible, free mobile device apps.
  • Aggregate tracking is available for total unique users and total interactions.
  • Granular tracking: a personalized QR campaign can provide identity and interaction information for each unique user.

Augmented Reality (AR): the user scans the entire mail piece with their mobile device, bringing the print “to life”, displaying video and animation.

  • No 2D barcode is required. The art printed on the piece itself triggers the digital content. This provides the opportunity to create a more intimate connection between the print piece and the interactive content.
  • Augmented Reality apps for mobile devices are readily available for free from the top AR tech companies. Each app from each company is proprietary and will not display content from other companies AR campaigns. We use and recommend LayAR.
  • Currently, personalized Augmented Reality campaigns are not practical.
  • Aggregate tracking is available for total unique users and total interactions.

AR can strongly reinforce messaging and brand, while creating a novel user experience which recipients will almost certainly share with friends and colleagues. QR on the other hand provides multiple vectors to capture data and track individual activity with the campaign. Which approach is the best fit for your campaign? The answer may actually be both, but used in different contexts that best support your marketing goals.

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