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Commentary & Analysis

What Google Trends Has to Say About QR Code Searches

QR Codes have been trending. What does a deeper dive into online search data tell us about interest in QR Code adoption and usage? What market categories show the greatest curiosity? Here’s a look at what Google Trends has to say.

By Heidi Tolliver-Walker
Published: June 9, 2017

Recently, I went to do a Google search and the “what’s trending” list that pops up on the screen first caught my eye. Number five on the list was “QR Scanner.” It was just below Ballz and just above Flappy Bird. Seriously. QR Codes are cool again. Who knew?

I decided to investigate, so I went to Google Trends to see how searches on QR Codes have trended over time. I compared the search volumes for “QR Code,” “QR Code scanner,” and “scan QR Code.” What I found was interesting.

  • Overall, searches on “QR Codes” have been flat over the past year. There was, however, a massive spike between November-December 2016. Anybody know what that was about?
  • Since then, searches on QR Codes and related terms have declined back to the level where they have been for some time. The exceptions are in the market categories.
  • In the automotive market, for example, the trend line looks like a Z-fold pamphlet. Up down, up down, up down. There is tons of volatility there.
  • In books and literature, the trend lines are higher than most other categories. Higher numbers of searches suggests a higher level of activity among publishers, which is driving readers to understand the print-to-mobile pathway.
  • In the financial industry, there has been a sharp pike in interest since the beginning of May 2017 to the present. In fact, at its peak (which was as of this writing), searches were at their highest levels since 2012.
  • Internet and telecom has the highest search volumes of the market categories. Of particular interest, “scan QR Code” has by far the highest search volumes compared to the others terms, including searches for “QR Code” by itself. This is the only category for which this is true, and volumes weren’t just a little higher. They were significantly higher, and this has been consistent over the past 12 months. The question is, why?

I could go on, but you get the idea. There is much to be learned from playing around with the filters and seeing how searches change by category and historical length selected. If you have clients in these categories, this data can open productive discussions about what the trend lines are, who is most likely driving these trends (competitors, customers) and why they are using them, what this means for them, and how you can help.

Heidi Tolliver-Walker Heidi is an industry analyst specializing in digital, one-to-one, personalized URL, and Web-to-print applications. Her Marketer’s Primer Series, availalbe through Digital Printing Reports, includes “Digital Printing: Transforming Business and Marketing Models,” 1:1 (Personalized) Printing: Boosting Profits Through Relevance,” “Personalized URLs: Beyond the Hype,” and “Web-to-Print: Transforming Document Management and Marketing.”



By Kevin Keane on Jun 09, 2017

Hi Heidi

As Adam Dewitz can attest, I am a huge fan of a brilliant Brit marketing wizard named Simon Andrews and his amazingly encyclopaedic weekly newsletter called Mobile Fix from Addictive London and in today's edition (9 June '17) Simon offers this timely observation in synch with your post:

"We have long been fans of QR codes and it’s great that the iPhone camera will now - finally - recognize them. All the issues with QR codes in the past came down to poor ideas from marketers – we trained people that acting on QR code was almost always a waste of time. We now need to learn from China on how they can be used as a real benefit to people."

Simon includes this link: http://www.scmp.com/news/china/society/article/2095576/rise-qr-code-and-how-it-has-forever-changed-chinas-social-habits

I highly recommend subscribing to Simon's must read weekly musings.

Hope you are well Heidi and all the best for your continued successes!



By Roy Grossman on Jun 10, 2017

There is a very interesting short article in the WSJ's June 10-11 edition (Review section - p. C4) "Counterfeiters Foiled by Paper" which discusses new technology utilizing QR codes to authenticate documents.


By Eddy Hagen on Jun 13, 2017

I've scanned more QR codes these last six months than ever before. As mentioned before by others, in Europe many financial institutions have started using QR codes to log in to the secured website and to approve payments.
And a few weeks ago I got an interesting promotional letter from my insurance company, with 3 reply options: paper, specific website + code, QR code. The QR code experience was really great and very convenient. And, in my opinion, that's the phase we've just entered with QR code implementation: productivity/convenience (which comes after the fun/promotion phase).
You can find more information about the QR code in the insurance mail in this blog post: http://i4p.ceo/E5S


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