Just about everyone except for inept marketers can agree that QR codes are terrible and useless. That being said, there's not really a better alternative if you're looking to implement augmented-reality on the cheap.
Layar's software lets readers experience augmented-reality magazines simply by pointing their phone at an otherwise normal-looking page. It then matches the camera data to an image of the page supplied by the publisher and determines what content it should display. For example, if you were to hold your phone up to a picture in the magazine, it would recognize that there's also an accompanying video and play that right in the context of the page as if the image were coming to life. Or you could scan a list of product recommendations and get links to where to buy them.