I wasn't allowed to watch ITV as a kid. More out of a desire to keep me from pestering my parents for He-Man action figures than a commentary on their shows. But my old biases have stayed with me. I rarely venture on to ITV - except for nature documentaries.
I've no idea what "The Only Way Is Essex" is. Frankly, I've no desire. It confirms all my worst prejudices about ITV. Cheap and tawdry trash.
What does interest me, it their use of QR codes.
There's a new way to get your hands on the latest gossip from The Only Way Is Essex, and it involves the crazy barcode you can see above.
From time to time, you'll see the code appear on screen around the show.
And here's the clever bit: if you're the owner of a smartphone, you can download a QR Code reader app and get instant access to some exciting Essex extras.
Simply open the app and scan the code directly from your TV, and the latest tasty titbit of Essex gossip and scandal is all yours…
The URL they've chosen is a bit too long for my tastes - http://www.itv.com/channels/itv2/itv2shows/theonlywayisessex/qrcode
Assuming they display it at a decent size, it will probably scan ok on a 32inch TV - with the viewer sat a couple of metres away.
The real tragedy is what happens when you do scan that code.
ITV's web servers are seeing a mobile request and redirecting to a non-existant page.
I really hope that the URLs they display on the broadcast show work better than their example one.
- Keep URLs small.
- Display QR codes as large as you can - especially if your audience are going to be physically distant from your display.
- Test! Test! Test! Make sure that when mobiles scan your codes, they get an experience that works. It doesn't have to be mobile optimised - although that helps - but it does need to work.
- Tell your users where they can get a QR reader. The instruction page for ITV should at least give a recommendation for QR readers on popular platforms.