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QR Codes Are Making a Comeback: Here’s Why You Should Care


Did you watch the Super Bowl this year? Or maybe a better question is, did you watch the Super Bowl commercials this year? The marketing game displayed during this commercial break is sometimes even more competitive than what happens on the field.

2022 was no different, and there was one commercial that garnished a huge amount of buzz with its simple use of a technology that has been around for a very long time: the humble QR code.

Todd tribble
There was one commercial that garnished a lot of buzz with its simple use of a technology that's been around for a long time: the QR code.
Todd Tribble
SVP, Gecko

That QR Code Commercial

Of course, we’re talking about the Coinbase commercial. The advert itself was said to have cost $14 million and it showed a QR code bouncing around the screen for a whole 60 seconds. If you’re an old-school gamer then you may have felt the familiar tug of the classic arcade game, Pong, as you watched.

However, then the realization hit that the commercial was asking you to do something.  You could almost hear all of the viewers start to shout as they grabbed their phones and instantly started to bring the Coinbase information into their worlds. The result was 20 million hits to their website.

A few years ago, this was probably unheard of. A QR code? Really? Believe it.

The Super Bowl commercial is of course a high profile example, but right now, we’re seeing QR codes everywhere. On TV. At the cinema. In restaurants. Even some of the biggest brands in the world are using QR codes – with Starbucks, Netflix and Nike being just a few names in the mix.

QR codes can also be of huge value in the world of higher education.


QR Codes Are Making a Comeback, But When Were They First Used?

Let’s dive into the history books to understand QR codes a little better. Standing for ‘quick response’, QR codes first came on the scene way back in the nineties. The first QR code was created in 1994 and was the brainchild of Hara Masahiro, an engineer at Japanese manufacturing company Denso.

They made their way into the mainstream and increased in popularity over time; 14 million Americans scanned a QR code during June 2011.

However, QR codes began to fall out of favour in more recent times, which sometimes happens when a technology that doesn’t necessarily evolve. Then the global pandemic hit and touchless technologies weren’t just wanted, they were needed.


The Pandemic Effect on QR Codes

All of a sudden, QR codes found themselves back in the spotlight. As Forbes puts it, “the pandemic saved the QR from extinction.” The use of QR codes flourished across multiple sectors, from convenience stores, to pharmacies, to retail shop fronts.

They also became mandatory in some settings – in the UK government’s track and trace initiative, for example.

More broadly, the pandemic propelled touchless technologies back into the public view. With social distancing in play and increased hygiene consciousness, contactless payment leapt in popularity.

In the UK, the number of purchases made by contactless technology doubled between May 2020 and the same month the previous year. Touchless experiences – from taps and dryers to touchless check-in kiosks at airports – became much more common.

Todd tribble
The QR code is now one of the most common features that client of Gecko deploy in our various modules.
Todd Tribble
SVP, Gecko

QR Codes in Higher Education

Now, let’s look at how QR codes can help if you work in higher education. QR codes have been incredibly helpful throughout the pandemic, especially when strict protocols around the pandemic were still in place.

They make for a safer, smarter check-in at on-campus events – and they enable you to have a much better read on your data. Need to know how many visitors you have in one space at a time? Use QR codes and they’ve got you. The QR code is now one of the most common features that clients of Gecko deploy in our various modules.


Ways that Gecko clients use QR codes in higher ed:

  • Point students to a website page off of our chatbot module
  • Point students to an event registration page off our events module
  • Check prospects into Open House events
  • Direct students to your social media accounts
  • To download an app/resource materials


Benefits of using QR codes by Gecko clients / in higher ed:

  • Fast, streamlined check-in experience
  • Safe and hygienic way of checking into events
  • Keeps student and prospect data secure
  • Enables you to track event and session attendees
  • Paperless experience – environmentally-friendly


Read more about how Gecko can help you use QR codes here.


The Future of QR Codes

I believe that QR codes are here to stay. I also think that you’ll see a continued improvement to the overall buying experience that businesses provide their customers, and QR codes are a part of that.

It’s important to understand what exactly Coinbase did with that commercial. They extended their 60-second advert to one with no time constraints and received real-time data on the effectiveness of what they were putting out there. That is information that drives future interactions, and they can act on that data immediately if they choose.

The use of this same concept in higher education is being utilized already and Gecko is sitting in a position to guide and support those that are coming into this world with direct experience. If you want to deliver slick, seamless, and personable experiences for your prospective and current students, QR codes are a winner.

Because whether it’s in the context of higher education or in your own everyday life, QR codes just make things simpler.