QR Code Advertising: The Comeback Kid of 2020 Tech

November 16, 2020

Imagine. It’s the year 2011. The iPhone 4s has just premiered at a lower price point with some vibrant new colors. Rebecca Black’s breakout song “Friday” plays on a loop in every store. All across the country – creative teams are trying to fit QR codes into every square inch of their campaign – from bus stops to billboards to print ads. 

The idea behind QR codes, the ability to directly scan and track conversions to a product or website, was great in theory. However, the technology was ahead of consumer behavior and had two major issues:

  • The first? QR codes made the assumption that the average citizen would have their phone readily accessible at all times. Today? Sure, no brainer, it goes with me everywhere. 2011? I think it’s maybe in my purse, my car, might have left it plugged into the charger? 
  • The second flaw – It assumed everyone had a QR code reader app, knew how to use it, and could pull it up fast enough to scan a QR code as it flew by on a bus. This, of course, was not the case. Subsequent iOS updates have made the user experience significantly easier – all one has to do is open their camera app and point. Marketing magic only imagined back in 2011.

These days QR codes are popping up everywhere, in large part due to the COVID-19 pandemic according to Forbes. Their ease, simplicity, and no contact by design utility is driving adoption at restaurants in the place of menus, at checkouts in the place of keypads, and on the big screen during primetime driving sales of NBA Playoffs merchandise.

While we still have a few months to go (aka Ms. Black – if you’re reading this, the clock is ticking) it’s safe to say QR codes are the hottest comeback kid of 2020. And it’s no surprise that what happens in life – is mirrored in advertising. When we dive into our proprietary data around the adoption of the Interactive CTV QR code feature at Innovid, a clear pre- and post-pandemic narrative emerges. 

QR code adoption in Q1 was light with only a handful of advertisers running the format. However, in the following quarter, Innovid recorded a 62 percent increase in impressions as well as a 160 percent increase in adoption of advertisers leveraging the format. Which just makes sense. With people stuck at home watching TV, scrolling through their phones, combined with the fact that we’re being trained to scan QR codes everywhere else, why not on our TV? 

QR code impressions skyrocketed in Q3, gaining a 130 percent increase from the previous quarter and it shows no signs of stopping. October has followed this trend of high adoption, delivering 32% of all Q3 2020 impressions which indicates that QR codes are here to stay. 

Overall, this has resulted in an impressive QR code engagement, with an average QR code scan click rate of 0.02 percent. For those from the display side of the house, the number is going to underwhelm, but think of it this way: This is some of the first data we are able to grasp that directly ties a connected TV commercial to a site side conversion. Moreover, think about what it requires your audience to do – pull up their camera app, scan the QR, click on a link. This action is not accidental, it’s intentional. And the value of driving intention, well, that’s infinite. 

Want more data-backed trends? Check out Innovid iQ and subscribe for updates on report releases from Innovid.com.