Are QR Codes Going To Have an Effect on the Value of Domains?

Sep 27 2011

Forget t.co, QR codes have become the world’s preferred url shortener. You would have to be blind to not notice the surge in QR codes in use in today’s advertising. From “for sale” signs on homes to products on the shelves, they presently provide the easiest way to get users to a source of information. So how will this impact domains and their value?

To say that this will not have an effect on domains is naive. The purpose of domains was to create a memorable alternative to ip addresses that were merely a series of numbers with little distinction from one to another. QR codes provide this same use. By taking a photo or scan this lets the user get to a site or information without having to type or recall a web address. Unless the user plans on coming back then 99% of the time the user doesn’t care or even check where the QR code sent them. Presently a QR code can present simple text or if it wants to present more graphic detail, has to send them to the web. In the future I see apps that will incorporate an entire company’s inventory that will be completely stored on a phone. You’ll have the Target app on your phone, scan a product, and everything will be brought up about that product from within your phone’s memory. No sending you to an outside source. As memory gets cheaper and smaller, it will be easy to store large amounts of data on your smart phone to make recall almost instant.

In my opinion domains will continue to be less valuable to the “in house shopper”. Defining the shopper as a person that is actually at the store. Checkout will be in the store and information will be provided in a way that either doesn’t involve the web or masks it through shortcuts. In my opinion, not a big deal because it never had. Nothing lost. If anything, right now they are driving users to the web and we have a chance to get their attention. At home,at work, or on the move, domains will continue to dominate.

Domains are the sign for your store. They are the name of your company. You want people to come back? You basically have three ways to get them back at this time. They are going to remember your domain name and type it, they will find you through a search engine or link, or they will be led through a QR code. Those are the three things to concentrate on and the quality of your domain can impact all three. A quality domain in a QR code has a better chance of having the user remember but i do feel most hardly look. The positive, the larger the purchase the better chance you have of them bookmarking the link and coming back to do more research when they come home. Once online, QR codes have no value. You are better off just putting a link. Their purpose is to create links on hard copy items such as printed material. Only an issue for the printing company that was making product info banners and signs. That leaves SEO.

While SEO is vitally important, you are still relying on others to lead customers to your business. Other than buying links and ads, you are the mercy of the Google and any changes they want to make on your ranking. Your domain however, is your choice. Presently it serves two purposes, one to help you rank higher on the search engines by including keywords in your domain and just as important, be memorable so users can recall the name easily and come back. This was the original purpose of domains as explained earlier, to make it better than ip addresses. For these two reasons many domains are more valuable than they’ve ever been.

Noticed how I say some. The key is that people will remember. As we introduce these new tlds it has become clear that some have risen above others. Which ones really depend on where you live. In Germany the hyphenated .de is extremely popular while in the US the hyphen is not used often and when it is, it is often forgotten by the user. Without going into too much detail the key is memorable and defining. I personally think the best for is dot com. Other domains will do the job but when I invest, I prefer to invest in dot coms.

In short, pun intended, links, apps, QR codes, and any newly invented thing that takes a user straight to a site or info will devalue domains in time. Devalue does not mean less value than today. It means less value than they could be. Can you imagine how expensive dot coms would be without other tlds? Other tlds have devalued dot coms. QR codes will continue to drive users to the web. It may not be all users but it will be billions. That can’t be all bad can it?

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Outsmarting the Dumb, Outworking the Smart

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12 comments

  1. Rick Schwartz

    I don’t quite see the connection. ALL roads still lead to the domain name. The ONLY thing that changes is the way you get there. You want to open as many roads as possible to your domain. So I don’t see it hurting values. I am not sure why so many think every change affects a value of the domain? The big loser may be Google, not domain values.

    As far as QR codes themselves, I found out information this weekend that demonstrates something very powerful. I plan on using QR codes from now on. But again, it is to increase business and that is the foundation you need to have domain values keep rising.

    I don’t see any extension making .com less valuable. I have seen it first hand. 800 numbers, 877 numbers, 855 numbers, 888 numbers. 25 years later and 800 is still the gold standard. It is still the default “Toll Free” number. The 800 number will always get calls from all the other extensions and if you have a similar product or service, you STEAL sales because of the leak in the business. No business can afford too many leaks and survive.

    Imagine each call is a vote. If a call intended for the guy with the 855 goes to the 800, it is a double whammy. Not only are they losing the sale, but they make their competition stronger in the process and a cost of ZERO!

    So build, build, build. Times Square is still Times Square. Kansas can never compete with that. And while Tokyo and Paris can, they are in different places at different times and they don’t directly compete. Together they may encourage tourism. That helps all does not hurt any. So I look at things differently.

    If I were to open a restaurant today I would pick the spot with 50 other restaurants around me. Some will look at that as competition and a bad thing. That is flawed thinking. What you have is an area that has a lot of hungry people looking for a place to eat because every restaurant is advertising and I can make a living being the hamburger stand next to the steak house with no ad budget.

    Pizza places resisted delivery because they thought it would hurt sales. They were wrong then, they are wrong now. But when folks view business in a defensive and flawed mode, folks come to defensive and flawed conclusions. The pizza places that embraced delivery were rewarded and those that didn’t were punished.

    There is example after example I can point to that show values can only rise because understanding is just starting not ending. The conversations I have today about domain names with end users sound nothing like the ones I had just 1 year ago. The tone has changed. They are much more educated and have been through the school of hard knocks. They know through failure that a great domain name is essential. The domain gets through the clutter.

    Either way, QR codes work but folks need to use them more to their benefit and as an immediate call to action.

  2. Clobert Rine

    Your’s was a great post too Shane! It’s great to get us all thinking about these things

    Rick said some of the things I was going to say, especially the 800 toll-free number part, but I think that QR Codes will actually increase traffic to domains.

    QR Codes will increase traffic because when people are looking at a QR Code and scan it in and go home to their PC, or even look at it on their cell phone or tablet, most merchants and sites will show the URL in the address bar, thus branding the site name. I doubt the user will keep coming back to the QR Code to get to the same site, but I’m not sure about that.

    Also, I believe that eventually that items with QR Codes will begin to predominantly show the domain name above the QR Codes. Not everyone has, or will have a Smart Phone. I still use a Nokia from 2002 and have no Internet access on the phone. I just don’t like navigating on a phone. 🙂 Also, some people just don’t have phones and if a marketer relies just on QR Codes he or she loses a potential sale by not promoting a URL alongside it.

    With both the QR Code and URL placed next to each other, each potential buyer can choose to access the site or product in the manner they wish.

    This may sound silly, but some people may be to lazy to pull out their cell phone and scan a QR Code, if they can remember the domain very easily. People are lazy, hence shorter domains working better for sites in general. It would have sounded silly to most in 1995, as the Internet was getting rolling, that people would be too lazy to type in five characters over three characters, given a choice. Hell, I still prefer to access DomainTools.com using Whois.sc…..it’s just shorter. The same may be true about pulling your cell phone out of your pocket or purse and getting to the scan screen and then scanning it and saving it. Maybe, just maybe, that may be more “work” than a certain tranche of folks will be willing to accept. Time will tell. They may prefer access by URL at a different time.

    The reverse would be true for a case where the product domain is too hard to remember, then the QR Code will be less work. In this case, if the product had only the URL, then maybe the buyer would have NEVER have visited the site because he or she did not remember it. Now, with the QR Code they can visit the site and the poor URL gets a second chance at branding, whereby it would have never got more than one chance when they potential buyer was just looking at the product in the store.

    I see QR Codes lifting all the boats with the rising tide. Anything that promotes more interaction with the consumer is a good thing. I truly believe that marketers will make sure that their domain always follows closely to the QR Codes, or vise-versa. Eventually, in retail, they will be like inseparable bothers, always found together wherever any promotion is taking place.

    One tangential thought, how will outdoor advertising handle this? You can’t put a QR Code on a billboard, right? Too far away? What about TV? Can codes by scanned off your TV? Just thinking out loud. I really don’t know how that works.

  3. Clobert Rine

    I just thought of a couple interesting things that could conceivably crush QR Codes.

    It’s a little out there, but hey, who knows?

    1. What if they find cell phones cause cancer? Down goes the QR Code.

    2. What if they find cell phones are actually killing all the bees like many scientists think, and could ruin the world’s pollination, and thus our entire food system? I do believe they would start limiting cell phone use since almost everyone likes eating.
    🙂

    Again, this is all slightly “out there”, but never say never.

  4. Vincent DiAngelus

    Did the image of a person on your phone take over the phone number system?

    As was said earlier the code is a unique way to make an immediate call to action, but should in no way be considered making domain names meaningless. The code will still need to resolve to something, even an IP address, and that domain will still need to be memorable long after the person walks away from that poster, sticker, sign with all the blips and blotches.


    1. Post author
      ShaneCultra

      Vincent,

      Not a great argument. I don’t know anyone’s phone number anymore because of my phone. Not even my wife’s work phone. I just hit wife work.

  5. Sai Pola

    “Get Rick Click” had QR codes incorporated to increase interactivity both offline and online for the readers. This is how future books and ebooks will be.

    Now that Rick and Shane are getting bullish on QR, we will soon see herd mentality and a mad rush to grab the QR Gold domain space.

  6. Todd Bernhard

    Case in point. To post a comment here, I am asked for my Website. Not QR code. They are unwieldy for desktop use and do nothing for memory retention for when you are away from the image. Someone mentioned that they rely on their cell for phone numbers. A good domain is like 444-4444 (the local injury attorney who advertises that # so my 7 year old knows it by heart) or 1-800-MATTRESS. Can you ‘remember’ a QR code?

    For in-store shopping, QR codes are a short-term solution until Near Field Communication is prevalent. When shopping, it is or will be much easier to swipe my phone at a kiosk to research and even pay than to fire up a scanner app, scan a sign, have it launch my web browser to take me somewhere a short memorable domain could have done. And I won’t remember how to get there away from the code/sign when I’m at my desktop, etc.


    1. Post author
      ShaneCultra

      Todd,

      You are correct in much of your thought but a few holes. Do you actually remember all your phone numbers or do you just hit their name on your phone? I know very few numbers anymore. They’re direct links on my phone. Two, can’t remember qr codes when you got home? You have the wrong program. Mine saves my past codes and then I can go back and look. Of course I’m looking on their website and domain and that’s where we come in.

  7. Todd Bernhard

    We are talking about commerce. Of course I haven’t committed 100’s of personal phone numbers to memory. As I mentioned, I remember memorable, BUSINESS phone numbers. Will you ever forget 1-800-MATTRESS? And I certainly remember good business domains.

    My point re the desktop is that it means I’m using a different device than my phone. I thought that was obvious. A good domain transcends devices and doesn’t need a camera or special app. It works on tv, radio, print, in the car, word of mouth, etc. An advertiser would be wise to invest in and promote a great domain as it can be propagated by any medium, unlike QR codes. Again, just look at the comment system here that asks for a domain, not a QR code.

  8. wendell

    I think that if QR codes are complimented by great tagline domains or call-to-action domains (which are QR-coded), this would be the ultimate power solution for adertisers. QR codes are very powerful, however many people miss them because of time or distance. If they can be complimented with great, even generic call to actions or taglines, that are not too long and are familiar and memorable then that could be a boon for advertisers. I guess if an adertizing firm could secure say a few hundred taglines or call to action domains then that would be worth a fortune to them.

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