QR Codes on TV: 5 Takeaways From the NAB Show

May 3rd, 2022 · 7 minute read

qr codes on tv

Besides masks and the intricacies of people’s foreheads, what else have you noticed, post-COVID? QR codes, of course! As a matter of fact, data shows that since the beginning of the pandemic, the use of QR codes has nearly doubled.

Naturally, as a QR company, we’re stoked. So stoked that we flew six team members to the NAB Show in Las Vegas to proselytize how we use QR to integrate the legacy of television with the marketing powerhouse of Web 2.0.

During the conference, our sales director, Meghan Glenn, hopped on a panel with Tom Donoghue, vice president of leading ad-tech company GroundTruth, and John Ziegler, chief marketing officer of broadcasting behemoth Sinclair, to discuss how Flowcode’s QRs are the future of broadcast monetization.

Check out more information about QR codes on TV, five takeaways from the panel, and the NAB:

1. You use QRs all the time; why shouldn’t they be on TV?

We couldn’t tell if there were more QR codes or people at NAB; they were everywhere. Attendees used them to check-in, order food, peruse schedules, and learn more about companies at the conference. Yup, you read that right: despite broadcast companies using QR to educate attendees at the conference, the idea of putting QRs on their TV stations is a distant concept. However, this oversight isn’t the craziest thing we noticed…

Imagine this, you’re a broadcasting executive at NAB, with a treasure trove of intellectual property on your phone. Are you thinking about the privacy threat of a random QR scan? Of course not! Who thinks about that sort of thing? Well, for one, we do. We make sure our codes are GDPR and CCPA compliant in order to keep your data private and secure.

2. QR codes can’t be “accidentally scanned”

During the panel, Donoghue said something poignant: “No one scans by accident. You can’t fat-finger a Flowcode.” Ok, maybe a “fat-finger scan” is theoretically possible, but that’s unlikely unless you’re walking around with your camera on all the time, and who the heck does that?

What is likely is fat thumbing a display ad. As a matter of fact, up to 13% of all mobile ad clicks are accidental. That’s one in ten! Imagine if you had that standard for other things in your business - a one in ten chance that an expense was improperly recorded; a one in ten chance your servers are down; a one in ten chance an employee doesn’t show up for work. A one in ten chance of error in most aspects of business is ridiculous, so why is it acceptable with your marketing? Ultimately, an error rate this severe, best case, messes up your data, and worst case it costs you lots of money.

“For me, measurability matters,” says Donoghue. If you can’t measure things accurately, then how can you make any decisions?

3. QR codes on TV work really well… almost too well.

During this year’s Super Bowl, something surprising happened (and no, it wasn’t learning that Dr. Dre can play piano like an angel). During a commercial break, viewers were presented with a bouncing QR code that stayed on TV for 60 seconds. During this brief period of time, rowdy football fans were motivated to wipe their hands of Buffalo sauce, scan the code, and crash Coinbase’s website. Coinbase isn’t some podunk website; it’s the United States’ leading cryptocurrency trading platform. Coinbase’s entire business is online.

Realizing how well Coinbase’s ad worked, Facebook jumped on the bandwagon, and within moments had their own bouncing QR code on their Meta Quest Twitter account advertising their Foo Fighters VR after-hours party, with the caption, “Hopefully this doesn’t crash.” Think about it, one of the leading advertising companies in the world decided to use QR codes, recognizing within moments the value they provide to advertisers.

So how come QR codes work so well on TV? According to Glenn, “Ultimately it comes down to tapping into the most sit forward audience that you have in their most captive moment, who has actually raised their hand and said, ‘Not only am I seeing this content, but I am choosing to respond to it.’ [With QR], you're basically eliminating the friction with which they're able to interact with them, and that's incredible.”

However, with great power comes great responsibility. The next day, Max Eddy of PCMag wrote an op-ed decrying Coinbase’s approach as a security nightmare. This “nightmare” is one of the reasons Flowcode has a quality assurance department. We make sure our codes are GDPR and CCPA compliant so that audiences know they are safe and our clients know that they are shielded from litigation. Plus, our quality assurance department makes sure our QR codes look sleek so that people want to scan them in the first place.

qr codes on tv

4. Convergent TV is the future.

Glenn says that TV’s considered a medium for the top of the sales funnel. TV drives awareness, and advocates for a product on a medium that commands attention. The question she poses is, “How can broadcasters move TV down the funnel?”

The answer: allow the audience to move down the funnel in real-time using technologies that move them fluidly between all of a brand’s marketing channels - a good example being QR codes.

“My favorite phrase is ‘convergent TV,’” says Donoghue. “When you have the best of the reach of linear [advertising] as a powerhouse for driving your story, and you have the hyper-targeting, the reporting, and the audience measurement of connected TV; when you converge those two pieces together, you really have the best elements possible for a client.” He continues, “When you add in a QR or Flowcode, what you've done is amped up the value of that advertising in a way that allows my mom to reach into that product by scanning that QR code and instantly getting access to the information that she needs.”

Glenn expands on Donoghue’s point by saying, “There's no division between linear and non-linear anymore with the ability to shift content from screen to screen with Flowcode as the conduit between the two. You're really creating that bespoke content experience because viewers look at content as content.” In other words, viewers aren’t thinking about the tops and bottoms of sales funnels; they’re thinking about whatever is being advertised to them and how they can learn more.

With that in mind, Donoghue concludes, “How is it that we're not embedding these in every single one of our TV spots?!”

5. QR codes will create new jobs

With the newfound demand for QR codes, a new position arises: the corporate QR expert.

So who should be the ones creating these positions? Well, you, as a matter of fact. You should be leading the fight to provide more effective, measurable ads that integrate across all media.

As Glenn points out near the end of the panel discussion, “There are some scrappy sellers across our media partners who are out there like, ‘Oh, I can generate revenue using Flowcode - making literally any surface clickable - by going out and calling on every single business that may not be a TV advertiser.” In other words, there is a tremendous opportunity here, considering that 122.4 million people in the United States watch TV.

Ready to try QR codes on TV?

Flowcode's TV team is ready to talk to you! If you have any questions about how this position would benefit your company, or need proof that other places are doing it, Flowcode is happy to talk about the best practices to start you on this journey. Until then, consider the power of QR and how it can transform old technologies into new opportunities in an instant.

If you have more questions, email [email protected]

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