Corporate Eye

Magazines See Big Jump in QR Codes in 2011

Quick response codes (QR codes) are becoming the norm in print advertising, and according to a report by mobile marketing firm Nellymoser, approximately 4,500 QR codes appeared in the top 100 magazines during 2011.

Those QR codes appeared in a mix of ads and editorial pages, but advertisers are definitely the ones leading the print magazine QR code trend.

Nellymoser found that women’s magazines are the most popular place for QR codes with the top magazine titles for QR code use ranking as follows:

  1. InStyle = 141 QR codes
  2. ESPN The Magazine = 136 QR codes
  3. People = 136 QR codes
  4. Self = 126 QR codes
  5. Entertainment Weekly = 123 QR codes

Between January and December of 2011, QR code usage in magazine advertising jumped by over 122% from 3.6% of ad pages to 8% of ad pages. Most of those QR code ads are from the beauty, home, and fashion categories according to Nellymoser. The top brands using QR codes in magazines during 2011 were:

  1. John Frieda = 82 QR codes (beauty industry)
  2. L’Oreal = 79 QR codes (beauty industry)
  3. Cuisinart = 74 QR codes (home industry)
  4. Garnier = 72 QR codes (beauty industry)
  5. Revlon = 67 QR codes (beauty industry)

Nellymoser also reports that the more QR codes that are in a magazine, the higher the overall scan rates, and QR codes that include a message describing the benefit consumers get when they scan them receive higher scan rates than stand-alone QR codes. These are useful findings for brands looking to engage with consumers via print ads. Including an ad with a QR code in a publication that already has many advertisers who use QR codes is a better choice than being the lone QR code advertiser in a magazine.

This is a situation where consumer behavior simply makes sense — common sense. Once a person takes her mobile device out to scan one QR code, it’s a lot easier to keep on scanning. That’s one less hurdle for the advertiser to have to navigate in its effort to connect with consumers. Add a compelling message alongside the QR code, and that advertiser stands a much better chance of driving scans and conversions.

What do you think about QR codes in magazines? Are you using them to promote your brand yet? Have you ever scanned one? Leave a comment and share your experience from the brand and consumer side.

Image: Flickr

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.

I started one of the first magazines (Spektacle Magazine) in the world to use QR Codes within its editorial and found that our readers enjoyed how the codes could bring to life each article. Although Spektacle has been put on hold for the moment, I have created a list of how Qr Codes can be used in magazines and books via At the moment publishers have been using QR Codes at the most basic level. In the future we will be seeing some truly innovative applications within the magazine arena.

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