karl taylor

2 minute read

I’ve just found a unicorn. I took the opportunity to walk through my neighborhood last evening. I couldn’t help but notice this wonderful bit of old-world advertising while I was out and about. Here’s a closer shot:

Do you believe in magic? It must have been rough trying to sell ads back when there was no real way to guarantee who saw them. In deference to my lack of experience with this rather…dated…medium, here’s a quick primer to get you up to speed.


(to be honest, I always describe it this way)


So, they know I’m walking towards Safeway…where’s the magic?

I don’t know — but as soon as I crossed the street, I got a push notification from the Starbucks App on my phone.

arguably MISSINGNO. is the OG QR Code. The wondrous folks at CreativeOutdoor.Com aren’t the only ones to try and get scrappy about the online-offline problem.

This is a pretty common problem. How can a business know that they aren’t wasting their money on advertising?

The problem with billboards like this one: they ask the wrong question.

The right question?

“What should we say on the street corner?”

I think that’s the problem with QR Codes, too.

Our job is to find the customer where they are. Once we do that, we need to deliver something they find valuable — especially if we’re going to ask them to go through the trouble of scanning a code they walked past.


I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention what is literally the only functional case of QR code usage I have ever seen — @50Back


Empowering socially conscious consumers to “Buy a Beer” for a Soldier (or other charity) by scanning a code on the bottle makes sense. It meets the customers where they are, and it gives them a reason to engage.

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