2D Barcodes and Media Buying

The other day, I spotted this billboard from Red Bull and it got me thinking. Why? Because the billboard, which has a QR Code prominently displayed, was located in a New York City subway station with no Internet connection, thus making the code virtually useless. So, what I started to think about was media placement and media purchase, as it relates to 2D-based campaigns.    

Even though a consumer can learn all about the Red Bull event promotion without having to scan the QR Code, the code was purposely placed on the billboard for one reason or another and, if that’s the case, then why would the media buyer purchase/recommend space in a subway station with no connection? While it may or may not be in his/her job description, shouldn’t the media buyer know the capabilities and/or requirements of a QR Code, so that a consumer could have the best 2D/interactive/mobile experience possible? And, even if it was not in the job description to know how certain marketing related technologies work best, wouldn’t the creative or marketing person(s) behind the campaign inform the media buyer accordingly? 

Granted, I am not of the agency/media buying world, and maybe I am speaking out of turn, but something tells me that 2D strategy, campaign and technology information/knowledge is not being shared among the very people who need to know.

From a cost perspective, sure it is more cost effective to take one version of an advertisement and use it across multiple mediums but, at some point, there is a trade off…save money and deliver a less than optimal 2D experience or vice versa. Take your pick. With this campaign, if it’s a matter of saving a few dollars by making use of one ad then, what’s the opportunity cost when an interested consumer attempts to scan the code in the subway and can’t?


5 thoughts on “2D Barcodes and Media Buying

  1. I always look on these subway/underground placements as a 'scan for later' opportunity. If I'm sufficiently interested in the advertised product, I'll scan the code to view the content when I've got a connection. Granted, I may be in a minority there.

  2. Steve and GLR thank you for the comments. Yes, experienced users know that the scan can be resolved later, but what about the first-time user? If first impressions impact the greatest then shouldn't a code be placed in a location where it has nothing other to do then work?

  3. Roger — it is unlikely that a first time QR user would scan this code because it does not follow best practices. First, there is no call to action that gives people a reason to scan. Second, there are no instructions as to how to scan. Nellymoser has done 200 QR and Tag campaigns in the past six months and the top results come from campaigns with both.

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