How Much Does (QR Code) Size Really Matter?

Common sense, expert opinion, and the most fundamental best practices would tell us, of course it matters – the size of QR codes (especially in public spaces) directly impacts how many people see it, therefore how many people end up scanning it. But I wonder how accurate that really is.

Recently, I saw this huge billboard in the Denver Airport with three large QR codes on it.

QR Code at the Denver Airport

I don’t know how much bigger they can get, particularly in relation to the overall real-estate of the “canvas.”

Then, conversely, I saw another huge print advertisement in a mall here in Dallas with a tiny QR code on it.

American Idol QR Code

That’s it in the bottom left-hand corner. You might have to squint to see it.

Both advertisements were large and placed in high traffic venues, in high traffic areas, so the chances for noticing them on a daily basis is high. But guess how many people I saw scanning either of them?


And that was me.

Now, in fairness, I was only in the vicinity for a few minutes. But in those few minutes, it was as if I was the only one who not only noticed the ad, but was actually interacting with it.

So, I think the size is a relevant question. Because the real questions still remain – Do people even notice QR codes (or Microsoft Tags) when they see them? Do they know what they are? Or know what to do with them?

I still don’t think the average person knows what they are or how to use them, so when they see them, they have no impact. Regardless of their size.

Now prominence is another thing. As a marketer or brand who’s implementing these types of codes, you’re not giving yourself any chance of succeeding when you place a tiny code in the bottom corner of an ad, where only the wheel of a stroller would notice it. Be that as it may, I think brands/marketers have alot of flexibility in size and prominence. As long as it’s big enough and can be seen within a reasonable line of sight, I would say that you’ve covered the size and prominence aspects. But there are bigger issues to solve around these codes.

I think the only way we can get the general person/consumer to become aware and adopt a new behavior (scanning these codes) is to add real value to the codes. “More information,” which seems to the “value” associated with most of the codes I’ve seen in the past year is not enough. There haven’t been many brands who have cracked this nut and as a result, probably not seeing the success they anticipated.

PSFK recently released a “Future of Mobile Tagging Report” and they key takeaways for me were:

1. There is potential in using these codes and even more, the codes becoming commonplace in our world.

2. Content, namely the content “behind the code” (the content that consumers see after they scan the code) is the only way these codes can take hold and succeed. That’s the value. And yes, “value” looks different for everyone. But it’s not about the size or the prominence or the design. (You can see the general sense of “value” when looking at these examples, even if you’re not the target audience. So, I don’t want to use this forum to debate “value.”)

If you haven’t seen the report, check it out. There are some solid examples of the wide range of uses with these codes.

PSFK presents Future Of Mobile Tagging Report

(View more presentations from PSFK.)
Another thing that stuck out to me in these examples were how the expectations (for scanning the code) were made clear from the outset. The pieces included language around the code that informed people what would happen/what they would get if they scanned it. And it wasn’t “more information.” Even when real-estate is limited, it’s essential that expectations – and more clear than not – are set. Enlist a good copywriter and I guarantee they’ll write something that’s clear and concise.
So, all in all, in the end, I think it boils down to an even simpler question – when you’re thinking about implementing any code-based initiative, ask yourself, “would I want to scan this?”
That assumes, then, you’ve reasonably thought through basic elements like size and prominence and expectations. And you’re answering that question based on the “value” – be it content, offer or purchase – that you’re going to get. If you skimp on the value, it doesn’t matter if the code is a size of a building. No one will scan it.

2 thoughts on “How Much Does (QR Code) Size Really Matter?

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention How Much Does (QR Code) Size Really Matter? | 11th Screen --



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