Insights & Trends

QR Code Resurgence

March 10, 2022

Remember when QR codes were a thing? Wait… are still a thing… are a new thing?  

Yeah, that’s right, QR codes are new, fresh and shiny… again. Usage of QR codes isn’t new. How they are being strategically executed and leveraged is what’s actually new. This resurgence reminds us that you don’t always need to invent the next big thing. What is old can be new with a little creative thinking! 

And the recent Super Bowl has proven that QR codes are BACK and in a BIG way! 

Beginning with a need for no-touch menus during the pandemic, the most recent QR code craze made it to the big time with a sort-of questionable but kind-of genius execution that was the Coinbase 2000s bouncing logo nod, whopper of a price tag, low production value, game day placement. The execution tricked so many individuals around the world that they crashed their app. 

 I personally whipped out my cell and clicked that URL with the rest of you. However, I might have been one of the few to immediately begin to curse myself while the webpage loaded. All I could think about was that cookie that now lives on my device, the cross-device sharing that was going on in the background and the social ads that were now destined to stalk me everywhere for the next 30 days.  

But then I thought about the traditional media buyer who was now gleefully looking at their impact in real-time on Google Analytics and assigning tangible value to their very expensive and bold placement. The strategist who was in the data pits with their digital media cohorts elbow to elbow with their data analysts for potentially the first time in a long time (or ever) and I couldn’t begrudge them that happiness.  

We need to remind ourselves that we are in a creative industry and we are only limited by our imagination. I know I am excited to see the potential of QR codes expand.

I know traditional TV tracking isn’t a new concept. There are lots of services out there claiming to know who came to your website from your most recent 30-second primetime ad, but in the land of UTM codes and pixel-based tracking, this digital analyst sometimes questions the accuracy of that data. The idea of using time and spikes of traffic as proof of value is sometimes a hard pill to swallow when I can directly assign revenue down to a specific ad for digital tactics.  

Leveraging a QR code in traditional format is a genius way to get that data without requiring a sometimes doubtful and often expensive tracking system provided you give the consumer a reason to scan that QR code.  

And that’s the trick, isn’t it? Why are they going to scan? Not everyone can take the risk of Coinbase’s execution or the countless other (less risky) examples during the big game. To be fair, even Coinbase couldn’t fully commit to the bold placement, being sure to get their brand name and website URL in the last second of their ad. Why is a user going to scan that code?  

Intrigue is a method. What is this code for? Who is positioning it before me? I have to know!  

A compelling call-to-action is going to be a more obvious driver. The audience wants to take the action you are offering and the QR code is the fastest way for them to do that. 

Visual appeal is also something I am seeing in the QR space. You can make that block of traditionally black spots more intriguing through an appealing design.  

An offer is a great way to get users to scan. Entering to win, discount offer, etc. People love feeling like they are winning or getting a deal. 

Countless other strategic ideas have yet to be thought up! We need to remind ourselves that we are in a creative industry and we are only limited by our imagination. I know I am excited to see the potential of QR codes expand and hopeful they don’t end up back in the recycling bin anytime soon.  

Lisa Ardia

Associate Media Director

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