The Advantage of QR Codes: Scanning is 3 times faster than Typing

QR Code Movie Poster Youtube

There is a simple answer why using QR Codes in your marketing activities is a MUST:


Scanning a QR Code is the fasted way to open specific content in the browser!

To give you an example: A new blockbuster movie is out and is promoted with posters in the streets or with ads in magazines. To let people interact with the poster a link and a QR Code are added, like shown in the illustration above. The link redirects the user to the movie trailer, so people can already preview the movie on their mobile devices, before watching the movie in the theatre.

+++ Breaking News: iPhones with iOS11 now support QR Code Reading with the native camera app out of the box! +++

ios11 qr code reader iphone

Typing vs. Auto Complete vs. QR Code Scanning

To access the trailer from the poster a person can type the URL in the web browser, use auto complete in YouTube or just simply scan the QR Code. We assume that a QR Code Reader App is already being installed on the phone and that the three different approaches of playing the trailer use the same internet connection with the same speed. The browser cache is being emptied every time. The initial process of downloading and installing the QR Code reader takes about two minutes, but is not considered in this testing scenario. With Apple devices since ios11 you don’t even need to install a 3rd-party-App to scan QR Codes.


typing vs. auto complete vs. qr code scan

Manual Typing (30 seconds) vs. Auto Complete (20 seconds)  vs. QR Code Scan (< 10 seconds)

The Bad Way: Manually typing the URL takes 30 Seconds

The traditional way to open a web address is to type the URL manually in the browser’s address bar. Even if the link on the poster is an easy to remember and shortened URL, it takes 30 seconds to open the web browser, to enter the URL and to wait for the player to start the video. This is a reason why QR Codes became popular in China: the Chinese alphabet has much more characters and it takes ages to manually enter a Chinese URL on a mobile device.

Faster: Auto Complete in YouTube takes 20 Seconds

A faster way to watch the trailer is to use the auto complete function of the YouTube App by starting to type in the first chars of the movie. Auto complete works quite well and after entering the first 3 characters the trailer was already suggested. However there are a bunch of trailers in different languages and qualities. Typing the URL or scanning the QR Code ensures that you are being redirected to the official trailer.

The Winner: Scanning the QR Code in less than 10 Seconds

Firing up the QR Code Reader App, scanning the QR Code and the video starting to play on YouTube takes less than 10 seconds. The only disadvantage is that people have to install a QR Code Reader on their mobile devices first because in general decoding QR Codes is not supported by the native operating system.

Use QR Codes and arouse curiosity

As shown in the videos above adding QR Codes to your ads enables people to interact three times faster with your brand than manually entering an URL. Of course you have to give people an incentive why they should scan the QR Code or open the URL on their mobile device. But once you have caught their attention our statistics show that people tend to scan the QR Code four times more often than to type in the URL. We did not cover speech recognition (e.g. Cortana) and other technologies like iBeacons or Augmented Reality in this article. But we are happy if you leave a comment with your experience about other different approaches.

Last but not least: Before using QR Codes in your marketing campaigns make sure you have read our QR Code Guide for an optimal user experience and now we encourage you to create QR Codes (if you haven’t already). You might also take a look at your competitors how they use QR Codes in their marketing campaigns.

Create free QR Codes




Peter is the founder of the QR Code Platform He is a QR Code enthusiast and consults agencies with his expertise to launch successfull QR Code campaigns. Get in touch with him on:


5 thoughts on “The Advantage of QR Codes: Scanning is 3 times faster than Typing

  1. Kevin

    It is faster… if you have a QR code scanner on your phone. In most instances, people do not. Because they take up space on their phone’s memory and are so seldom used that… why would they?

    Your bit above about native camera app scanning? The article you linked even says that the big two (Android and iOS) don’t do it. So your link actually is not supporting your argument at all. Windows phones are the only ones with native code scanning… at 2.6% of market share.

    Also, most marketers make a bad habit of assuming that all people know what they are. Sure, we’ve all likely seen them at some point or another. But how many actually know that it’s called a “QR code” to be able to then go to their respective app store, search for it, and figure out which of the dozens out there they want to download? Sorry, but the 10 seconds to scan a QR code is now beyond a minute or more depending on your connection. And, if you don’t have an unlimited data plan and are not on wifi, are you really going to waste your precious data downloading an app for a single use? I find if a company is pushing me to use a QR code “for more information,” I’d prefer to not bother and walk away.

    My company gave up on QR codes four years ago. Bitly or just using as simple a URL as possible is the way to go.

    1. Peter Post author

      Hello Kevin,

      I agree that companies using just a QR Code without to show an alternative URL misunderstood the concept of QR Codes.

      A QR Code should always be used as an add-on to an URL – not standalone. In our post 9 tips how to use QR Codes we show how to use a QR Code combined with a call-2-action message, an alternative URL and a decoding hint.

      A QR Code has nothing to do with your internet connection or data plan. No matter if you type in the URL manually or scan the code, if you have a slow internet connection the page will load slow.

      I do not recommend using since a company should always enforce their brand and displaying an URL of a third party distracts the user. With our White Label QR Code Manager you can completely customize your URLs with your own domain and your own shortened vanity URLs.

      A QR Code Reader App like i-nigma has 2,7MB which takes about 0,02% memory of an iPhone with 16GB. The app size is less than one picture taken by the camera, so I would not agree that a QR Code scanning app takes too much memory on a phone.

      It is true that the initial step of installing a scanning app takes some extra time. But you cannot add that time to the scanning process, because once installed firing up the app and scanning the QR Code has a constant duration. This is like any other app like Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram you have to install first before continuously integrating them in your everyday life.

      Maybe you have started using QR Codes in a too early phase. From our platform statistics the numbers for creating and scanning QR Codes increase from year to year.

      Taken at July, 2016
      You might want to give QR Codes a try again and let me know how it worked out.

      Best regards,

  2. Tom

    “The Bad Way: Manually typing the URL takes 30 Seconds”

    You have a 29-second YouTube video of somebody who starts typing a URL at 0:03, and presses return at 0:17. You’re counting page-load time as part of “typing”.

    “The Winner: Scanning the QR Code in less than 10 Seconds”

    You’re assuming the person has a QR scanner app on their home screen, which is something I’ve never seen anyone do. Realistically, they’d have to page through a few screens to find it. Or if they don’t feel like searching for it manually, typing “QR” to search for the app.

    You’ve pre-configured a phone with a QR app on the home screen, and are using it to open a cached webpage, and are claiming the speed increase is because of some QR magic.

    1. Peter Post author

      Hello Tom, thanks for your thoughts.
      I tried the scenario you are describing with the search function “QR” on my iPhone 6S. It took me 10 seconds to open the page (which by the way was not cached).
      I don’t get your point, maybe you lose seconds by finding the QR Code App, but are you claiming that scanning a QR Code is slower than typing or autocompleting an URL (especially if it’s a long one or autocomplete will not find the page you are looking for)? Maybe it is not three times faster in some cases but it helps people with non-Latin script countries like in China to speed up (

      Moreover, there are some mobile devices who support QR Code scanning out of the box in the native camera app, which will increase the speed a notch.
      Read more about it here:

  3. Bob Lowe

    Thanks for the post. Any time I can use a QR code I will. It really is so much faster. Especially if it has other information like someones contact info or something else like that.


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