• How Advertisers Can Realize the Promise of QR Codes

    (At the end of the article, watch a video interview with Lance Wolder and Will Richmond, Editor and Publisher of VideoNuze.)

    As the advertising industry shifts from traditional linear TV to streaming, interactive ads have emerged as a novel way to cut through the clutter, leveraging the powerful personalization capabilities of Connected TV. Notably, QR codes have been gaining attention as a tool to drive measurable actions in ads. However, despite the buzz, their real-world impact remains limited. This isn’t just a QR code dilemma; it's a clarion call for a strategic shift.

    Here's the thing: QR codes are known to all, yet scanned by few. The numbers don’t lie – while consumer awareness is through the roof, engagement rates have some catching up to do. It's a classic case of great potential, missed execution. Recent studies from Origin, LoopMe, and FlowCode shed light on the current state of QR code engagement. 95% of consumers are familiar with the concept of QR codes however a study from Brightline found a mere 0.02% of users scan QR codes in video ads. This begs the question: Why the disparity?

    Simply put: Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

    Strategic Shifts for Effective QR Code Usage

    1. Redefining Value and Context: The future can be golden for QR codes, but it demands a strategy overhaul. It’s time to stop treating them as digital placeholders and start using them as launchpads for immersive experiences. Imagine QR codes that lead not just to a webpage, but to an interactive story, a personalized journey, a world of engagement that viewers can’t resist. When consumers don't see a clear benefit or relevance to their interests, they're less inclined to engage. However, there's a silver lining. When users do engage with QR codes, we find that they immerse themselves much deeper in the ad content, spending significantly more time with the messaging and creative. Whether it's a behind-the-scenes look, a special offer, or an interactive experience, the content post-scan must be compelling enough to warrant the effort.

    2. Educating the Audience: Beyond enhancing the value proposition, there's a pressing need to convey this value to viewers. They should know, without a doubt, what's in it for them. A clear, enticing call-to-action, coupled with creative elements such as making sure the QR code is on screen long enough for someone to scan and providing visual and audio cues such as a countdown clock can motivate engagement.

    The key lies in showcasing clear benefits and relevance across the industry so as not to ruin the customer experience. We all want consumers to be more willing to engage with ads, be it shoppable content, QR codes or interactive ads but if they have a bad experience or worse - don’t have enough time to pull out their phone to scan the QR - it’s going to hamper their propensity to engage with all brands making it harder for us as an industry to use the capabilities of connected TV in this full-funnel way.

    3. Creative Restraint and Differentiation: In an environment flooded with QR codes, the real challenge is to stand out. It’s not about using QR codes because everyone else is; or because you can, it's about using them better and with purpose. Brands must dare to differentiate with interactive ads and groundbreaking content. Innovation and creativity are essential to turn QR codes from a common trend into a distinctive brand experience.

    Looking to the future
    Now Netflix has announced ads with QR codes are coming to their service. It’s a big move, and it seems the right move as digital advertising performance trends are permeating all screens – the connected TV included. When it comes to QR codes, we’ve learned that creative restraint is paramount. It’s important for advertisers to deliver the goods – an experience worthy of people scanning a QR code on screen – and it’s essential to do so carefully. When done well we’ve seen QR codes become powerful tools for PadSquad clients that not only drive interaction and brand storytelling but shoppable experiences as well. Although we still have a ways to go for QR codes to reach their full potential, the stage is set for transformation and exciting possibilities ahead.