Quick Response (QR) codes, the funny-looking ‘barcodes’ or pixelated blobs that once heralded a merger between print and online property marketing, could soon become irrelevant.
Estate agents do believe they are a necessary link between moving a potential buyer from a print listing to a website, but also think they have passed their use, if only because of better advancements in virtual or augmented reality projects. In practice they were supposed to send users directly to an image or website, but many believe their use-by date has come.
Mark Kentwell, director of PRDnationwide Newcastle and Lake Macquarie, said they have experimented with a lot of focus groups and found mobile-orientated websites offer just as much for the user and agent.
Mr Kentwell, featured fifth in the Real Estate Business Top 100 Agents for most listings secured, said responsive mobile sites remove any confusion punters have from adopting QR codes further.
“The feedback from our testing is where do we position the phone? Do you hover over the code? Are you using the latest app? And a small percentage of the public doesn’t even know what they do – does it send you to the listing or a homepage?” Mr Kentwell said.
“I was in a realtor conference in the US in 2011 and all the major US portals said they get a better take-up rate with a responsive website … a mobile-friendly site allows you to clearly see the photo of the property and you can check if it matches and then choose whether you want to see a video, floor plan or inspection times.
“At the end of the day, the technology that wins will be whatever puts the consumer first because sometimes we can make what could be simple more complicated than it needs to be. What agents want technology to do is attract a buyer and get a step further in the engage and follow-up, but the margins for error in QR codes may be getting off track.”
Mr Kentwell said in the emerging technology space, agents want to see a device that serves high-quality short videos, an easy-to-read floor plan and well-written copywriting that will satisfy a large part of the market.
Ted Piteo, chief executive officer of The Professionals in South Australia, said Europeans and Japanese consumers mainly adopted QR codes, but very few in Australia. Mr Piteo said whether or not people have been educated in how best to use QR codes or not, the best opportunity for tech-savvy agents is to build a good website and direct consumers to that, instead of offering something that links print with online.
“Those advancing on augumented or virtual reality will do so for a glossy brand because people will be happy to hover over an image,” Mr Piteo said.
“Augmented reality is a big opportunity for print but now we are seeing other forms of production offering a good opportunity to give the customer the feel of printed listings as well as incorporating the text.”