How to Use QR Codes and Google Maps in Your Ads - Property Vista

July 11, 2012

How to Use QR Codes and Google Maps in Your Ads

You may have seen QR codes in advertising, on packaging, on business cards, on signs, and even on T-shirts. We’ve even seen them on the stickers on bananas!

Quick Response codes are 2 dimensional matrix barcodes that are free to create and can be read using one of many free QR scanning applications for your smartphone. In essence, they take a piece of information from a transitory media and, very quickly and easily, add it in to your cell phone.

What happens when you scan a QR code? There are two main activities that a QR code can trigger:


  • Send people to a Google Map of your building’s location with street view and the location of local schools and amenities.
  • Have a YouTube video tour of the apartment automatically play.
  • Link to your property’s WebVista website, apartment listing or online application form.
  • Link to any page on your mobile site or blog.
  • Send people to follow you on Twitter, Like your Facebook page, connect with you on LinkedIn, or check-in on Foursquare.


  • Dial a phone number.
  • Place a Skype call.
  • Send a text message.
  • Open a pre-addressed email window.
  • Download a VCard with your contact details.
  • Receive a VCalendar event.
  • Used creatively, a QR code has the ability to be a great marketing tool for your property.


First, decide what you want the QR code to do. We think that linking your QR code to a Google Map is a great idea if your ad appears on a site with no map functionality. You can also link it to your Google Places page (look for our upcoming post about Google Places later this month.)

Remember that if the QR code links to a web address, it will be opened on a mobile phone. Make sure that the page links to either a mobile site or does not contain heavy graphics or Flash, which is not viewable on iPhones or iPads.

Out of respect to your audience, we also suggest that near the image of the QR code you disclose what it links to or what action will happen. Some people don’t like surprises, particularly if placing a call, sending a text or downloading data will cost them money on their phone plan.

Next, you need to find a service that will create your QR code. There are many that can be found by Googling “free QR code generator.” Try that allows your code to perform many functions, customize the colour of your QR code, download, print and email your code.

There are also paid services that allow you to insert custom graphics into your code, download very high resolution files for large-scale printing, or provide you with analytics data for tracking the performance of your code.

Download a QR scanner application to your smartphone so that you can test your code before publicizing it. Also, once you have a QR reader on your phone, you’ll find inspiration in discovering how other companies are using the codes.

Lastly, put your code wherever it makes sense. Use it in place of one of your photo spots in online apartment listings, on your building’s exterior signage, in newspaper ads, on flyers.

Because QR codes are free, you can create an assortment that perform different functions. To keep multiple codes organized, on your computer create a folder for each QR code. Inside, include the downloaded QR code file, as well as a text file that includes the link and any other relevant notes and information.

With this type of QR library, you can use one code in an online ad linking to Google Maps, Google Places or your Web Vista online application form; another on your business card to download a Vcard; one on your property’s exterior signage to place a call or email you about vacancies, and one in your advertising encouraging people to follow you on Twitter or Facebook.

Have fun experimenting with QR codes and see which uses perform best for you. The only limit is your imagination!

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Jack Beaton Sterling Karamar, Property Management
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