There is a lot of buzz in the advertising community about using QR codes in advertising. I’ve written this primer to help you get started and come up with ideas on how your business can benefit from using QR codes.

What exactly is a QR code?

A QR code is a type of barcode that can be read easily by a digital device. QR codes store information as a series of pixels in a square-shaped grid and are frequently used to track information about products in a supply chain. Because Smartphones now have built-in QR readers, they are often used in marketing and advertising campaigns. The data stored in a QR code can include website URLs, phone numbers, or up to 4,000 characters of text.

A QR code is a type of barcode that can be read easily by a digital device.

How does a QR code work?

The patterns within QR codes represent binary codes that can be interpreted to reveal the code’s data. A QR reader can identify a standard QR code based on the three large squares outside the QR code. Once it has identified these three shapes, it knows that everything contained inside the square is a QR code.

The QR reader then analyzes the QR code by breaking it down into a grid. It looks at individual grid squares and assigns each one a value based on whether it is black or white. It then groups grid squares to create larger patterns. The QR code-generating software does not collect personally identifiable information. The data it does collect includes location, the number of times the code has been scanned and at what times, plus the operating system of the device that scanned the code (i.e. iPhone, Android).

QR codes are still used to track products and product information through a supply chain, but they are also used for much more. You’ve likely used a QR code to view a menu, link a social profile or add friends to an account, board a flight, download an app, send/receive payments, access Wi-Fi, and authenticate specific login details.

There has also been significant improvements to the code’s design – QR codes can come with brand protection, anti-forgery measures, and traceability, all features meant to improve the QR code experience as they become increasingly more common across industries.

QR codes can come with brand protection, anti-forgery measures, and traceability…

Advertising Best Practices

QR codes can be a great resource across fundraising, list-building and call-to-action CTV campaigns. There is a capability to have the QR code creative built out from different partners and vendors to embed either :15 second or :30 second ads across a PMP.

Here are some campaign optimizations and creative features that can be utilized when implementing a QR code to a specific campaign:

  • On-screen copy (up to 3 lines)
  • Image in phone
  • Phone background color
  • Campaign logo
  • Main background image/graphic
  • Legal disclaimer copy
  • QR code destination
  • QR code background color
  • Copy above QR code
  • Candidate Photo/graphic
  • Copy on phone

QR code examples

  • A campaign sign for a political candidate contains a QR code that links to an audio file with a message from the candidate, or a mobile landing page with the candidate’s bio, campaign platform and opportunities to volunteer or contribute
  • An advertisement for a nonprofit organization includes a QR code that links to a volunteer and donation page

If you are interested in taking advantage of QR codes in your next advertising project, contact the Arena team and we’ll be happy to provide you with a free consult. If you are looking for a code generating service, here’s a review of the top 14 QR code generators for 2022.

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