How QR Codes Are Bridging the Gap Between the Smartphones and Television

6
at
6
minutes
Technical Level
May 19, 2022
Jean-Martin Provencher
Director, Product Management

The following post was originally featured in Spiceworks published on May 19, 2022.

The growth of connected TV has poised it to become a leading advertising channel and improve upon shortcomings of linear TV, particularly the attention problem and the attribution problem. The smartphone could be an important bridge to improve upon both those problems. 

TV’s Attention Problem

The constant challenge for all advertisers on every medium is how to grab the attention of an audience that is increasingly better at not paying attention to ads. Even as billions of dollars pour into TV and CTV advertising, the latest consumer research confirms that at least 76% of people do not actively pay attention to TV ads. Much of that distraction comes from our smartphones since 79% of consumers take out their phone or another device during commercial breaks. While this may seem dire, advertisers have the opportunity to turn that distraction into attention.

TV’s Attribution Problem

Attribution on linear TV has been a close approximation at best. Traditionally, advertisers would have to rely on modeled data or through customer surveys to determine their TV ad performance and upfronts make it difficult to adjust campaigns once they’re running. But connected TVs and streaming services give viewers the chance to create their own profile for personalized viewing recommendations. And though most people share a TV profile, very few share a phone. Maybe there’s a way to use people’s smartphones as a method of attribution on CTV?

One promising way advertisers are beginning to bridge this gap between smartphones and TVs is through QR codes. QR codes may prove to be the catalyst of change that begins to improve upon the attention and attribution problems of linear TV.

Bridging the Gap

With the help of QR codes, smartphones can help CTV solve the attention and attribution problems of linear TV, rather than distract viewers away from them. Advertisers can take advantage of the fact that most modern camera apps have built-in QR code scanners to make TV commercials clickable. But of all things, why QR codes?

The Case for QR Codes

The pandemic not only increased cord-cutting and time spent on CTV but it also led to the user adoption growth of QR codes that had been expected for years. Our research revealed that 79% of consumers are now familiar with how to scan QR codes. And since most people have their phones in hand while watching TV, 76% said they would scan a QR code in a TV ad if it was relevant to them. This makes QR codes the easiest and most convenient tool to drive engagement on TV ads.

For example, Coinbase had great success with QR codes in TV commercials when it debuted during Super Bowl LVI. The QR code brought over 20 million hits to their site, crashing the app, and raised their app from 186th to 2nd place in the app store. Not only that, but Coinbase became one of the Top 5 most talked-about brands on Twitter. But that’s just one case, what are some other uses of QR codes?

5 Reasons Advertisers Are Looking to Use More QR Codes on TV and CTV Spots

With this massive growth in consumer comfort scanning QR codes and the waterfall moment from the Coinbase Super Bowl ad success, advertisers are increasingly looking to include QR codes in their TV strategies for 5 main reasons.

1. Making TV Ads “Clickable”

One advantage mobile and web ads have over TV is that users can click on them, but QR codes can level the playing field by also giving users a way to take action on TV ads in an intuitive way. Using a smartphone, scanning is the equivalent of clicking on CTV, allowing advertisers to lead viewers to store pages, discounts, contests and giveaways, or other desired actions.

2. Improving Attention of TV Spots

The Coinbase Super Bowl spot proved that a QR code can capture attention but the question is will it still improve attention if not running during the Super Bowl and if the ad is more than a floating QR code? We ran tests comparing regular TV ads with and without QR codes that showed a 12% increase in attention for TV spots with QR codes. With the improved attention, viewers have better recall and awareness of a brand and its messaging. Yet another opportunity for advertisers to turn distraction into TV ad success with smartphones and QR codes. 

QR codes can improve viewer's attention to CTV ads by 12%.

3. Improved Attribution 

CTV, like any digital advertising solution, will likely never reach a perfect level of attribution. Instead, it will rely on pulling relevant insights from many different sources that, together, can provide a clearer picture of how CTV ads impacted brand performance. QR codes can provide a very clean data point within that consumer attribution journey. Advertisers can track scans the same way they track clicks to their website and the subsequent behaviors that follow such as bounce rates, pages viewed, leads captured and sales recorded. 

Additionally, if advertisers use QR Codes that link to trackable in-store actions like coupons then advertisers can also track offline sales. With that holistic view of a customer’s journey, advertisers can use the first-party data to improve the performance of CTV and other channels as well. With more first-party data, CTV can be as personalized to a customer as easily as mobile, web, and social ads for a true, omnichannel experience.

4. One QR Code, Multiple Interactions

User profiles on CTV apps improve upon linear TV’s reporting for households with multiple viewers but are still limited in reporting when multiple people are watching content at the same time. QR codes enable multiple household members or other individuals to engage with the ad at the same time, further improving important data signals for performance and reach reporting.

5. Easier Payment

Additionally, consumers are accustomed to making purchases from their phones. Most people have their credit cards, shipping details or other settings saved on their phones. This removes yet another barrier and makes the sale process seamless. And though viewers are making the jump between different digital environments, it’s a smooth transition to an environment they’re already familiar with. 

A New Trifecta

QR codes will not be a magic bullet that improves all challenges facing TV but they do appear to be one of the cleanest ways for advertisers to close the gap between smartphones and TVs. Ads with QR codes are practically clickable and give advertisers more attribution signals to improve campaigns. QR codes better capture viewers’ attention and can even interact with multiple viewers in a household at once. And with the added convenience of digital wallets and payment methods, it is easier for viewers to scan a QR code and make a CTV purchase in a smartphone environment. QR codes can turn smartphones from a distraction into a valuable tool to help CTV solve the attention and attribution problems of linear TV.

The following post was originally featured in Spiceworks published on May 19, 2022.

The growth of connected TV has poised it to become a leading advertising channel and improve upon shortcomings of linear TV, particularly the attention problem and the attribution problem. The smartphone could be an important bridge to improve upon both those problems. 

TV’s Attention Problem

The constant challenge for all advertisers on every medium is how to grab the attention of an audience that is increasingly better at not paying attention to ads. Even as billions of dollars pour into TV and CTV advertising, the latest consumer research confirms that at least 76% of people do not actively pay attention to TV ads. Much of that distraction comes from our smartphones since 79% of consumers take out their phone or another device during commercial breaks. While this may seem dire, advertisers have the opportunity to turn that distraction into attention.

TV’s Attribution Problem

Attribution on linear TV has been a close approximation at best. Traditionally, advertisers would have to rely on modeled data or through customer surveys to determine their TV ad performance and upfronts make it difficult to adjust campaigns once they’re running. But connected TVs and streaming services give viewers the chance to create their own profile for personalized viewing recommendations. And though most people share a TV profile, very few share a phone. Maybe there’s a way to use people’s smartphones as a method of attribution on CTV?

One promising way advertisers are beginning to bridge this gap between smartphones and TVs is through QR codes. QR codes may prove to be the catalyst of change that begins to improve upon the attention and attribution problems of linear TV.

Bridging the Gap

With the help of QR codes, smartphones can help CTV solve the attention and attribution problems of linear TV, rather than distract viewers away from them. Advertisers can take advantage of the fact that most modern camera apps have built-in QR code scanners to make TV commercials clickable. But of all things, why QR codes?

The Case for QR Codes

The pandemic not only increased cord-cutting and time spent on CTV but it also led to the user adoption growth of QR codes that had been expected for years. Our research revealed that 79% of consumers are now familiar with how to scan QR codes. And since most people have their phones in hand while watching TV, 76% said they would scan a QR code in a TV ad if it was relevant to them. This makes QR codes the easiest and most convenient tool to drive engagement on TV ads.

For example, Coinbase had great success with QR codes in TV commercials when it debuted during Super Bowl LVI. The QR code brought over 20 million hits to their site, crashing the app, and raised their app from 186th to 2nd place in the app store. Not only that, but Coinbase became one of the Top 5 most talked-about brands on Twitter. But that’s just one case, what are some other uses of QR codes?

5 Reasons Advertisers Are Looking to Use More QR Codes on TV and CTV Spots

With this massive growth in consumer comfort scanning QR codes and the waterfall moment from the Coinbase Super Bowl ad success, advertisers are increasingly looking to include QR codes in their TV strategies for 5 main reasons.

1. Making TV Ads “Clickable”

One advantage mobile and web ads have over TV is that users can click on them, but QR codes can level the playing field by also giving users a way to take action on TV ads in an intuitive way. Using a smartphone, scanning is the equivalent of clicking on CTV, allowing advertisers to lead viewers to store pages, discounts, contests and giveaways, or other desired actions.

2. Improving Attention of TV Spots

The Coinbase Super Bowl spot proved that a QR code can capture attention but the question is will it still improve attention if not running during the Super Bowl and if the ad is more than a floating QR code? We ran tests comparing regular TV ads with and without QR codes that showed a 12% increase in attention for TV spots with QR codes. With the improved attention, viewers have better recall and awareness of a brand and its messaging. Yet another opportunity for advertisers to turn distraction into TV ad success with smartphones and QR codes. 

QR codes can improve viewer's attention to CTV ads by 12%.

3. Improved Attribution 

CTV, like any digital advertising solution, will likely never reach a perfect level of attribution. Instead, it will rely on pulling relevant insights from many different sources that, together, can provide a clearer picture of how CTV ads impacted brand performance. QR codes can provide a very clean data point within that consumer attribution journey. Advertisers can track scans the same way they track clicks to their website and the subsequent behaviors that follow such as bounce rates, pages viewed, leads captured and sales recorded. 

Additionally, if advertisers use QR Codes that link to trackable in-store actions like coupons then advertisers can also track offline sales. With that holistic view of a customer’s journey, advertisers can use the first-party data to improve the performance of CTV and other channels as well. With more first-party data, CTV can be as personalized to a customer as easily as mobile, web, and social ads for a true, omnichannel experience.

4. One QR Code, Multiple Interactions

User profiles on CTV apps improve upon linear TV’s reporting for households with multiple viewers but are still limited in reporting when multiple people are watching content at the same time. QR codes enable multiple household members or other individuals to engage with the ad at the same time, further improving important data signals for performance and reach reporting.

5. Easier Payment

Additionally, consumers are accustomed to making purchases from their phones. Most people have their credit cards, shipping details or other settings saved on their phones. This removes yet another barrier and makes the sale process seamless. And though viewers are making the jump between different digital environments, it’s a smooth transition to an environment they’re already familiar with. 

A New Trifecta

QR codes will not be a magic bullet that improves all challenges facing TV but they do appear to be one of the cleanest ways for advertisers to close the gap between smartphones and TVs. Ads with QR codes are practically clickable and give advertisers more attribution signals to improve campaigns. QR codes better capture viewers’ attention and can even interact with multiple viewers in a household at once. And with the added convenience of digital wallets and payment methods, it is easier for viewers to scan a QR code and make a CTV purchase in a smartphone environment. QR codes can turn smartphones from a distraction into a valuable tool to help CTV solve the attention and attribution problems of linear TV.

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About Behind Headlines: 180 Seconds in Ad Tech—

Behind Headlines: 180 Seconds in Ad Tech is a short 3-minute podcast exploring the news in the digital advertising industry. Ad tech is a fast-growing industry with many updates happening daily. As it can be hard for most to keep up with the latest news, the Sharethrough team wanted to create an audio series compiling notable mentions each week.

The following post was originally featured in Spiceworks published on May 19, 2022.

The growth of connected TV has poised it to become a leading advertising channel and improve upon shortcomings of linear TV, particularly the attention problem and the attribution problem. The smartphone could be an important bridge to improve upon both those problems. 

TV’s Attention Problem

The constant challenge for all advertisers on every medium is how to grab the attention of an audience that is increasingly better at not paying attention to ads. Even as billions of dollars pour into TV and CTV advertising, the latest consumer research confirms that at least 76% of people do not actively pay attention to TV ads. Much of that distraction comes from our smartphones since 79% of consumers take out their phone or another device during commercial breaks. While this may seem dire, advertisers have the opportunity to turn that distraction into attention.

TV’s Attribution Problem

Attribution on linear TV has been a close approximation at best. Traditionally, advertisers would have to rely on modeled data or through customer surveys to determine their TV ad performance and upfronts make it difficult to adjust campaigns once they’re running. But connected TVs and streaming services give viewers the chance to create their own profile for personalized viewing recommendations. And though most people share a TV profile, very few share a phone. Maybe there’s a way to use people’s smartphones as a method of attribution on CTV?

One promising way advertisers are beginning to bridge this gap between smartphones and TVs is through QR codes. QR codes may prove to be the catalyst of change that begins to improve upon the attention and attribution problems of linear TV.

Bridging the Gap

With the help of QR codes, smartphones can help CTV solve the attention and attribution problems of linear TV, rather than distract viewers away from them. Advertisers can take advantage of the fact that most modern camera apps have built-in QR code scanners to make TV commercials clickable. But of all things, why QR codes?

The Case for QR Codes

The pandemic not only increased cord-cutting and time spent on CTV but it also led to the user adoption growth of QR codes that had been expected for years. Our research revealed that 79% of consumers are now familiar with how to scan QR codes. And since most people have their phones in hand while watching TV, 76% said they would scan a QR code in a TV ad if it was relevant to them. This makes QR codes the easiest and most convenient tool to drive engagement on TV ads.

For example, Coinbase had great success with QR codes in TV commercials when it debuted during Super Bowl LVI. The QR code brought over 20 million hits to their site, crashing the app, and raised their app from 186th to 2nd place in the app store. Not only that, but Coinbase became one of the Top 5 most talked-about brands on Twitter. But that’s just one case, what are some other uses of QR codes?

5 Reasons Advertisers Are Looking to Use More QR Codes on TV and CTV Spots

With this massive growth in consumer comfort scanning QR codes and the waterfall moment from the Coinbase Super Bowl ad success, advertisers are increasingly looking to include QR codes in their TV strategies for 5 main reasons.

1. Making TV Ads “Clickable”

One advantage mobile and web ads have over TV is that users can click on them, but QR codes can level the playing field by also giving users a way to take action on TV ads in an intuitive way. Using a smartphone, scanning is the equivalent of clicking on CTV, allowing advertisers to lead viewers to store pages, discounts, contests and giveaways, or other desired actions.

2. Improving Attention of TV Spots

The Coinbase Super Bowl spot proved that a QR code can capture attention but the question is will it still improve attention if not running during the Super Bowl and if the ad is more than a floating QR code? We ran tests comparing regular TV ads with and without QR codes that showed a 12% increase in attention for TV spots with QR codes. With the improved attention, viewers have better recall and awareness of a brand and its messaging. Yet another opportunity for advertisers to turn distraction into TV ad success with smartphones and QR codes. 

QR codes can improve viewer's attention to CTV ads by 12%.

3. Improved Attribution 

CTV, like any digital advertising solution, will likely never reach a perfect level of attribution. Instead, it will rely on pulling relevant insights from many different sources that, together, can provide a clearer picture of how CTV ads impacted brand performance. QR codes can provide a very clean data point within that consumer attribution journey. Advertisers can track scans the same way they track clicks to their website and the subsequent behaviors that follow such as bounce rates, pages viewed, leads captured and sales recorded. 

Additionally, if advertisers use QR Codes that link to trackable in-store actions like coupons then advertisers can also track offline sales. With that holistic view of a customer’s journey, advertisers can use the first-party data to improve the performance of CTV and other channels as well. With more first-party data, CTV can be as personalized to a customer as easily as mobile, web, and social ads for a true, omnichannel experience.

4. One QR Code, Multiple Interactions

User profiles on CTV apps improve upon linear TV’s reporting for households with multiple viewers but are still limited in reporting when multiple people are watching content at the same time. QR codes enable multiple household members or other individuals to engage with the ad at the same time, further improving important data signals for performance and reach reporting.

5. Easier Payment

Additionally, consumers are accustomed to making purchases from their phones. Most people have their credit cards, shipping details or other settings saved on their phones. This removes yet another barrier and makes the sale process seamless. And though viewers are making the jump between different digital environments, it’s a smooth transition to an environment they’re already familiar with. 

A New Trifecta

QR codes will not be a magic bullet that improves all challenges facing TV but they do appear to be one of the cleanest ways for advertisers to close the gap between smartphones and TVs. Ads with QR codes are practically clickable and give advertisers more attribution signals to improve campaigns. QR codes better capture viewers’ attention and can even interact with multiple viewers in a household at once. And with the added convenience of digital wallets and payment methods, it is easier for viewers to scan a QR code and make a CTV purchase in a smartphone environment. QR codes can turn smartphones from a distraction into a valuable tool to help CTV solve the attention and attribution problems of linear TV.

About Calibrate—

Founded in 2015, Calibrate is a yearly conference for new engineering managers hosted by seasoned engineering managers. The experience level of the speakers ranges from newcomers all the way through senior engineering leaders with over twenty years of experience in the field. Each speaker is greatly concerned about the craft of engineering management. Organized and hosted by Sharethrough, it was conducted yearly in September, from 2015-2019 in San Francisco, California.

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Jean-Martin Provencher
Director, Product Management

About the Author

JM is a 15 year veteran of the advertising industry and a founder employee at District M, an ad tech firm that merged with Sharethrough in early 2021. He's worn many hats from leading demand side operations to product management where he now oversees the development of proprietary technologies that create rich and engaging ad experiences for the millions of users Sharethrough’s ad exchange reaches every day.

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