QR Code Marketing - An Interview with Mike Wehrs CEO of Scanbuy

scanlife    Lately, I can't have a discussion about QR codes, without someone saying that they heard that they are on the way out.  I totally disagree, but it does seem that a lot of confusion exists in the QR code world right now.
     Since the state of a market is often reflected in the pulse of its industry leaders, I decided to check in with Scanbuy CEO Mike Wehrs, and seek his opinion.  

      Scanbuy, in case you are not familiar with the company, is now in its 13th year and has an impressive client roster that includes Coca-Cola, UPS, Taco Bell, Starbucks, Staples, HP and many others.    The company's mobile apps are used in over 140 countries every day and functionality includes scanning, price comparison, QR code creation and more.     Wehrs joined Scanbuy as CEO and President in August of 2010.

   Based in NYC, Scanbuy also has offices in 8 other countries.  It also claims to have "the largest and oldest patent portfolio of any company in the industry, with over 30 rights granted, covering the entire barcode strategy."   The company is privately held and is backed by Motorola Mobility Ventures, Motorola Solutions Ventures, Hudson Ventures, and Masthead Venture Partners.

   Wehrs described business as "pretty darn good".     One area that is particularly hot is CPG, or Consumer Packaged Goods.  It is "off the charts" right now.  The reason is that QR code integration "allows them to engage with their customers on an unprecedented level with campaigns that are limited only by the imagination of their marketing team."    There is also strong demand from QSR (quick serve restaurants).
The Bar Code News:  How long does it take for a vendor to create and execute an advertising/marketing campaign involving a QR or other code  - from start, to completion of the campaign?
Wehrs:   The ScanLife Mobile Engagement Platform makes it very quick and easy for a vendor/client to create new QR code campaigns and monitor the analytics of the campaign.  From first login, to creation and download of the QR code, it takes only minutes. The Platform is so flexible that the client can change the action of the code at any time, even after the code is published.  For example a code could link to a coupon at one moment, and then a product video the next – all with a simple code action change within the platform.

The Bar Code News: How long does a campaign with QR codes usually run?
Wehrs: Client campaigns vary depending on the purpose of the campaign, for example product information compared to a contest.  If the QR code is setup for a specific marketing campaign, it generally runs for about three (3) months.  One common use of our platform is that a code can change what it does throughout its life so a code may drive a contest during a promotional period and then have its content switched to play a video.

The Bar Code News: Recently a YouTube video surpassed 1 billion views in a matter of weeks - (Gangnam style).  
How far away are we from that kind of hit for a QR code campaign?

Wehrs: There are existing ScanLife campaigns that are doing millions of scans.  In most cases these campaigns are on media or packaging and are local to a specific country, but we expect some additional large campaigns in the coming year to make a global event to increase the views.  The more important point is however, number of engagements as opposed to views.  An engagement is a far more valuable measure.

scanbuy chart

The Bar Code News: Does Scanbuy have any patents?    
Wehrs. There are two companies that have the lions share of the patents, Scanbuy and Neomedia, and we have cross licensed each other.  (Wehrs also made the point that Scanbuy's use of patents is primarily defensive.)

The Bar Code News: What else is on the horizon for this industry? 
Wehrs: Originally everyone had to have a QR code, but they didn't do anything to optimize the experience.  If the code resolved to a website that didn't support mobile it looked bad.  A lot of the companies are coming back… and the sentiment is "look we dabbled, we found we didn't really know what we were doing... but we know something is here... can you help us?"
There are a lot of companies out there offering a free or low cost QR code site, but Wehrs said he was "not seeing much pressure from those guys -  "there is a place for free --- but when your brand value is tied to it, it might not be the best choice."

"Companies," he went on to say, "undervalue how close a QR code can get you to the customer.  There can be 35 to 40 data points every time someone scans something, from detailed customer demographic profiles to real-time location, time and historical data."  Wrapping up, Wehrs described the analytics and business intelligence that can be derived from a properly executed program as "absolutely transformative" -Scanbuy is the engine that drives the process, then it’s up to the retailer to set the rules that they want to happen.

One person could scan the QR code and get a response; the next person could scan the same item and get a different response based on the data points received.

The use of the technology is "an opportunity to unlock the creativity of the marketing people in these companies."  

Sounds pretty darn good to us!    

Click here to learn more about Scanbuy.   Be sure to download the free Scanlife app from Google Play or the Apple store

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