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VENUE 29a smart way to interactQr codes are taking the marketing world by storm and invading the exhibition show floor. Nadia Cameron investigates how organisers and contractors are embracing this smartphone toolre we a nation addicted to our mobile phones? UK telecoms regulator Ofcom certainly believes so. In the recent Communication Market Report, the authority found 60 per cent of teenagers and 37 per cent of adults say they are "highly addicted" to their devices, with 81 per cent leaving them on at all times. A major contributor to this usage increase is smartphones. Across the UK, 47 per cent of teens and 27 per cent of adults now own a smartphone, whether it be an iPhone, BlackBerry, Nokia or Google Android-based device. Notably, 59 per cent purchased their device in the past year. Where there is a platform, there are applications for it. Smartphone take-up has prompted a plethora of apps covering everything from song identification to drinking virtual beer. Closer to home, it's triggering new live event and exhibition visitor apps focused on digital navigation, interactive and targeted communications and real-time information gathering.ATECHNologyAn increasingly popular addition to the smartphone app arsenal is Quick Response (QR) codes. The codes are based on a two-dimensional or matrix barcode that can be read by a smartphone using a dedicated QR mobile app. By scanning these, users gain access to specific text, a web address or other types of data on their phone chosen by the QR code's creator. Given the promotional scope this offers, marketers and consumer-focused companies are already embracing QR codes to reach tech-savvy consumers. Some examples include using QR codes as a digital business card, as a way of providing more info and as marketing collateral. OrgAniser interestUBM Live is one of several exhibition organisers investigating QR codes for their call to action properties. UBM Live marketing manager Alex Jones said its first step was using QR codes to drive people to view its show videos from Energy Solutions, M&E Building Services and Total Workplace Management exhibitions. The result was viewing increases of 59 per cent, 40 per cent and 38 per cent respectively. The organiser next used QR codes to enable Leisure Industry Week (LIW) attendees to download its new mobile app. Jones said UBM Live recorded 358 app downloads from the QR code a week after its launch. QR codes were also displayed during the show on all signage to further encourage app downloads."QR codes are heading the way of other technologies that are now integrated into our daily lives. As more people are exposed to them, we will be in a position to be bolder using them as a call to action," Jones claimed. "It will open up the way for more technology like this in our industry. "LIW was UBM Live's case study for the app and has done well, so we plan to rollout the app and QR codes next year at IFSEC, Facilities Show and Energy Solutions."