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What Is QR Code Tracking?

Alex Newth
Alex Newth

A quick response (QR) code is a barcode capable of being scanned by a mobile phone or other device and read quickly to provide additional information to the person performing the scan. A QR code often is used in advertising, and QR code tracking is a way for businesses to track just how often a particular code has been scanned because, much like tracking the number of visitors that enter a website, it tracks how many people enter the QR code’s landing page. The overall metric delivered through this is the total number of people who scanned the code, which is needed to track success. Success usually is defined as the user buying a product from a business, but there are other forms of success for advertisers. To assist in further advertising, this also tracks the phone brands used to scan QR codes.

When a QR code is scanned, it generally leads to a website or accesses information from the advertiser’s server. After scanning the code, the phone’s Internet protocol (IP) address is captured for accessing the server, and this is counted as a scan by QR code tracking programs. This also may be able to track demographic information, such as the scanner’s age and income, which typically is useful for structuring later QR code advertising plans.

QR codes are often used to offer promotional coupons or as direct links to purchase goods.
QR codes are often used to offer promotional coupons or as direct links to purchase goods.

QR code tracking programs often collect a lot of information from people who scan a code, but one important metric is the overall amount of people who scanned the code. This is needed to see if the QR code advertising plan was a success or a failure. For example, if a company is looking for 10 percent conversion, it will be impossible to know the conversion rate without knowing the total amount of people who scanned the code. By knowing how many scanned the code, the company also knows how much exposure it achieved with the campaign.

Success with QR codes, as with any other advertising plan, can be defined in many ways. The most common definition is based on the number of people buying a product, but it also can be based on the number of people who enter their email address and cell phone number for more information, go farther into the QR code’s landing page or stay on a page for a certain amount of time. Regardless of how the company defines success, QR code tracking software can be configured to count the number of people who do what the company wants.

Similar to how web analytics track Internet browsers, QR code tracking captures phone brands. This is done through IP information, because each mobile phone brand uses different IP numbers. If there are a large number of people using a certain brand, then the advertiser will know to guide its advertising to that crowd. If there are few scans from another brand, the company will try to figure out why for a better campaign next time.

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Discussion Comments


Hi Alex: Great article. Just curious though, how does scan tracking work? The image isn't actually requested by the phone, so a request to the hosts server is never made?

On my phone it just analyzes the camera image, and extracts the info from the captured image. 3G and WiFi are both disabled yet I haven't found a QR code that doesn't work. Obviously if the QR code is a link it can't be followed without 3G/WiFI, but that's a conversion/click-through and not a scan. Thanks for any reply. --Paul

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    • QR codes are often used to offer promotional coupons or as direct links to purchase goods.
      By: Denys Prykhodov
      QR codes are often used to offer promotional coupons or as direct links to purchase goods.