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Short URLs and QR Codes in Advertising

Short URLs

We've all come across excessively long and complicated links, but short links are a great way to simplify web addresses, making them easier to remember and more concise for promotional materials such as flyers and social media posts. Now, NMSU has its own service to create a branded short link. These branded short links not only help keep links simpler but also help to drive brand recognition and make the link look more reputable. An added benefit of requesting a branded URL is that NMSU can offer you analytics for these URLs upon request. These analytics help you understand the performance of your links and track audience engagement, which can help you refine your promotional strategies

In this picture, NMSU MARCOMM provides an example of how they structure these branded short links. Each of them starts with the standard NMSU domain; then you get to pick a domain extension (.link, .fyi, .news, or .help); and, lastly, you get to choose a URL slug. This URL slug is 100% up to the requester, but MARCOMM recommends using a unique keyword that represents the link you are sharing.

Here is an example of an actual NMSU-branded short URL. It is concise while also being specific about what the event link is about, which is ideal for social media posts.

There are alternative options for short URLs if you prefer not to have an NMSU-branded link. The first is Bitly, one of the most widely used URL-shortening services. With a free Bitly account, you can create up to 10 links monthly, each with a random combination of letters and numbers (for example,

Similarly, there is Tiny URL, another very well-known URL-shortening service. Tiny URL allows you to create one shortlink daily and is user-friendly since it doesn't require an account for basic use (for example,

QR Codes

More visual and simple to access from phones, QR codes have become increasingly popular in promotional materials. QR stands for Quick Response, and these codes are square barcodes that work as a digital key, providing easy access to online content when scanned with a smartphone or QR code reader. Many flyers, posters, or product packaging contain QR codes, which can direct people to a specific website address, coupon code, or video.

Scanning a QR code is a simple process, and most modern smartphones have the capability of reading QR codes when completing the following process:

  1. Open the camera app on a compatible device.

  2. Point the rear-facing camera at the QR code and ensure that the QR code is visible within the camera's viewfinder.

  3. Once the camera recognizes and reads the QR code, a banner or notification should appear on the phone or tablet. This banner indicates that the QR code has been read.

  4. Tap this banner, and the device will process the QR code and automatically go to the online destination.

So, how do we create these QR codes? Luckily, NMSU also offers this service for free. With every branded short URL you request through NMSU, you also get the option to request a corresponding QR code. This QR code maintains NMSU branding with its crimson color.

Alternatively, you can also create a QR code for free using Canva. Canva lets you personalize your QR code color and border and seamlessly insert it into your promotional materials. To access this feature within Canvas Editor, click on the “Apps” button on the left side of your screen. Search for “QR Code Generator” and click on the corresponding app. You will be prompted to enter the URL you want the QR code to be associated with and customize the background color, foreground color, and margin.

One thing to keep in mind when deciding whether or not to include a QR code in your promotional material is your audience. Many people, especially older generations or those who are not tech savvy, may not know how to scan QR codes or have a phone that reads QR codes. Therefore, it is recommended to include both a short link and a QR code in your advertisements, as shown in the flier below.

So, whether you choose NMSU's new marketing service or explore alternative services, short URLs and QR codes are useful tools for creating more accessible and effective advertising. To order a branded short URL and QR code from NMSU, please follow this link:

Written by: Yvette Navarro, Web Developer, Innovative Media, Research and Extension


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