For over a decade, QR codes have been that small square of random black and white digitized designs you see on everything from signs to product packaging. But with the popularization of smartphone technology in combination with societal changes such as a global pandemic, we are seeing QR codes resurge in popularity and utility amongst consumers. In this article, we will dive into what QR codes are, why we are seeing a recent surge in consumer use, and the future of QR codes in direct-response marketing.
Let’s dive in!
History of the QR Code
The history of QR codes dates back to 1994 when Denso Wave, a member of the Toyota Group, was needing to develop an alternative to the traditional UPC barcodes to streamline the manufacturing process. Though barcodes were useful, their traditional 12 digit UPC numbers limited the number of iterations possible to make across items. Needing an alternative that could carry more information, the QR code was created, storing up to 7000 characters. The new design allowed the ability to transpose information both vertically and horizontally while using the same amount of area as a barcode. So the question still stands, if they were invented in 1994, why are we just now seeing a rise in everyday QR code use?
Long story short, while QR codes have always had great utility for businesses, they did not hold the same utility for consumers until recently. To use the QR codes, you had to first and foremost have the technology to read them. Though QR codes started to pop up on products and signage over the past few decades, the average consumer did not have that technology readily on hand. Additionally, consumers were not knowledgeable about what this funny-looking digital square meant or did. That is, until recently.
Increased Use of QR Codes by Consumers
There have been many factors that have contributed to the recent rise of QR code use by the everyday person. Firstly, the spread and affordability of smartphones aided in the ability for average consumers to use QR code services. Many smartphone developers now have QR code reading preinstalled on the cameras. Not only is this feature conveniently accessible on your phone, a piece of technology many of us constantly have by our side, it also is pre-installed without a customer needing to take any additional action to use.
The second factor that has impacted its popularity centers around the growth of understanding by the general public. Many innovative services now regularly use QR codes. As these services educated their consumers, QR code know-how became more commonplace. When services like Bird scooters and Citi bikes hit the streets, it taught users to scan and go. Over time, more and more consumer products and services have adopted QR codes within their user experience.
One of the biggest areas adopting QR codes has been the restaurant industry. Due to the pandemic, restaurants across the country replaced their physical menus with QR codes. This adoption not only has health and safety benefits but also allows businesses more flexibility. In a CNBC article by Amelia Lucas discussing this move by restaurants, Bitly President Raleigh Harbour said that in addition to not needing to clean menus after every table, restaurants are “able to adjust their menu offerings on the fly to account for elements like inflation, fluctuations in food and commodities prices, and other variables.” This is a great example of how QR codes have provided a win-win for customers and businesses. So how can marketers use this technology?
Future of QR Code Technology
In addition to QR codes having utility on e-scooters and restaurant tabletops, media companies and marketers are discovering areas where QR codes can be optimized across their programming and advertisements. Like how tech startups familiarized consumers with scanning QR codes to get a bike or scooter, TV stations are beginning to implement QR codes onto their programming. For example, many TV news stations are now implementing QR codes during their segments to drive users from their TV screens to their websites, apps, and more through their mobile devices.
In his Marketing Dive article, Robert Williams discusses the new movement of leveraging “second screening”, the use of a device such as a smartphone while simultaneously consuming media on another screen such as TV. He notes how “marketers have an opportunity to entice viewers to scan a QR code that appears in a commercial break.” Additionally, this action can be used on longer-form media and has the potential to achieve the similar trackability benefits of 800 numbers, but in a manner that is accessible to younger, more tech-savvy audiences. With consumers familiar with this technology, this resurgence has many companies looking at the various possibilities to leverage this tech to bridge the gaps between media channels. In this omnichannel world, this is a very enticing tool for marketers aiming to communicate and lead consumers through the buying process across platforms.
While QR code implementation on television content is still in its early stages, those who adopt this shift and engage with their audiences through this new manner have the opportunity to capture viewers and bring them further down the marketing funnel in a way that is useful, interactive, and trackable. As previously said, QR code technology has the potential to be the bridge between the past and president of direct-response TV, from old-school 800 numbers into the digitally-driven, omnichannel world.
Curious to learn more about how you can implement QR codes in your marketing strategy? River Direct can provide QR code applications to your ads, bringing your TV marketing to the present day. Contact us to learn more!
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It seems like every month, groundbreaking and industry-altering shifts are occurring in the media and advertising world. In last month’s blog, The Future and Fate of Nielsen Ratings, we discussed the changes affecting the industry leading to a need for a more diverse, accurate, and omnichannel measurement system. In that article, we dove into the challenges Nielsen faces and the efforts media giants like NBCUniversal are taking to develop new measurement alternatives to better understand and interpret their audiences. Still, NBCUniversal will not be the only one attempting to create a new measurement system. ViacomCBS has recently announced their deal with the advertising data company, VideoAmp, that aims to change how media measurement is done. In this article, we will dive deeper into what these major players are aiming to do as they pave the way for the future of media measurement.
Status of Nielsen
As a brief recap, Nielsen has long been struggling to adapt their traditional rating system to evolve with the changes in media amongst the rise of digital, streaming, and more. Subsequently, their image to advertisers has been under major scrutiny as agencies and media buyers reexamine the reliability of Nielsen’s data that guides major business decisions. This issue has recently worsened as Nielsen lost its accreditation for local and national TV measurement by the Media Rating Council (MRC) after “the measurement firm undercounted national TV household viewership during the pandemic, sparking pushback from TV networks,” according to an article written by Alison Weissbrot for PRWeek. This move has only energized other companies to search for new alternatives.
With longstanding pushback, media companies are realizing they cannot wait for Nielsen to evolve with the market. This has led to the most recent development by ViacomCBS and their partnership with VideoAmp, an advertising data and software company. According to Wayne Friedman’s MediaPost article, “ViacomCBS, VideoAmp Cut Deal For ‘Alternative Currency’ Measurement,” this partnership aims to create a new “alternative currency” used for measurement. A key differentiator in VidoeAmp’s technology, compared to Nielsen, is its “proprietary data/methodology coming from set-top-box and smart TV Automatic Content Recognition (ACR) data for traditional TV, streaming video and digital media.”
In a multi-channel media landscape, advertisers and media companies are searching for solutions to understand how their content connects through various mediums and consumer touchpoints. While this is still early in emergence, John Halley, COO of Advertising Revenue at ViacomCBS, says that they are predicting many partnerships with marketers across the automotive, insurance, and fast food industries as well as other advertisers who are needing a more evolved audience measurement system.
Still, the idea of a one-size-fits-all measurement system is likely not in the cards. Halley notes that they are “not saying VideoAmp is replacing Nielsen as [their] primary currency,” but rather, “reimagining of the measurement ecosystem, the capabilities that could be brought to bear.” With this new partnership, ViacomCBS will use data across Nielsen, VideoAmp, and Comscore to interpret and understand their audience and it is likely many will follow suit.
This latest move by ViacomCBS is one of a trend that will likely continue as other major players search for alternative solutions that can measure and grow with consumer behavior. Michael Bürgi, Senior Editor of Media Buying and Planning at Digiday, notes in his article that alternatives must align with this multi-measurement future. He includes commentary by Nancy Larkin, Horizon Media’s Executive Vice President, that highlights the undeniable fact that “too much time is spent by buyers and agencies having to analyze the data.” Furthermore, in addition to measuring data, there must be a standardized and agreed-upon value that these metrics hold.
While it is still too early to ditch Nielsen and jump to a new alternative, ViacomCBS putting its name in the hat is a big step toward the future. At River Direct, we are sure to look at the media landscape and track the moves of today, tomorrow, and beyond to provide multichannel strategies for long-term success. Learn more about River Direct and be sure to follow us across our socials (Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram) as well as subscribe to our newsletter below for the latest updates in the marketing and advertising space.
2020 was a difficult year for virtually every industry, including traditional advertising. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel as we begin the New Year, as advertising spending in 2021 is projected to bounce back and show positive gains that lead the way for years to come.
A recent report from Magna shows that the U.S advertising market was one of the most resilient sectors from the downfall of COVID 19-related closures and budget decreases, showing just an average 1.5% decline in spend for 2020. Overall, spending is expected to rapidly increase in 2021 as many companies shift their focus to online commerce and retail efforts. According to Morningstar, online ad spending is expected to grow 20% in 2021 and a 14% average rate for 2022-24, outpacing the annual growth rates of 2017-19.
Looking at advertising trends by medium, the digital advertising outlook for 2021 is also quite optimistic. Magna forecasts an 8% year-on-year growth for digital spends of over $336 billion, bringing the medium’s share to 59% of total ad spending. In particular, increases in social media spending will be fueling this trend, as platforms gain more users and increase the lifetime value of each user. A study from eMarketer forecasts U.S. social media ad spending for 2021 to increase by 21.3%, reaching nearly $49 billion in overall spend.
These sizeable gains in online spending are in large attributed to online retailers increasing their advertising efforts to attract and retain long term customers and build brand reputation. According to research by Criteo, in recent months, 53% of consumers have discovered at least one form of online shopping that they plan to continue purchasing from.
Direct-response and digital advertising campaigns will remain at the forefront of marketing growth for 2021 and onwards, as first-party data gives brands useful insights into their customer’s behavior, identifying the path to maximize sales and recurring subscriptions. Social media platforms are also becoming much more efficient at targeted marketing and helping businesses integrate digital communications and robust payment systems that streamline purchases and customer experiences.
2021 will be the first year in history that digital advertising attracts more than 50% of global ad spend, a trend which is likely to only increase over time. Right now, it is more relevant than ever to ensure your business has an omnichannel marketing strategy that diversifies advertising spend to reach new customers and amplify sales. Contact us and see how we can positively impact your business for the New Year.
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Traditional television advertising continues to dominate, and in fact, has been shown to substantially improve the performance of digital advertisements by forming lasting impressions among viewers and building trust with your target audience. According to a report from Mediascience, television ads running concurrently with digital ads increases the average viewership time by 300% compared to running digital alone and leads to an increased brand recall from audiences by over 200%. The combination of TV and digital advertising also boosts purchase intent by an average of 15% among viewers.
The main reason television advertisements pair so well with digital is because TV ads produce a halo effect which validates and solidifies a brand’s reputation. This phenomenon causes digital ads to also be perceived as more desirable compared to without a TV presence, which makes digital seem more exciting and less intrusive than TV ads alone. From a strategic perspective, incorporating both digital and traditional TV advertising into your business is likely to increase performance by a larger percentage than either medium alone.
TV ads also bring a higher level of attention to branding, as a recent study from EffecTv shows that 94% of audiences watch the full length of TV ads, compared to only 78% of viewers watching full length digital ads. We also know that lesser known brands benefit more from TV ads than established ones, as well-known brands such as Target or Coca-Cola experience a diminishing return from a saturated market of television brand awareness, making it the perfect opportunity for smaller businesses to start casting a wider net with their marketing budgets.
According to a study conducted by TVSquared, television advertisements drive an additional 23% average weekly increase in website traffic while TV ads air. Conversely, when a TV advertiser goes off-air, they see a weekly reduction of website traffic by an average of 20%. Pausing TV airings can also reduce a brand’s visibility and awareness, which leads to lost opportunities of converting leads into potential sales.
Consumer’s trust in television as a credible source of new information makes it an essential factor in your direct marketing plan, as a solely digital strategy does not create the same level of brand reputation as combining the two. Mediascience also reports that TV ads are viewed on average more than twice as often as digital ads, so it makes sense that seeing an ad on both TV and digital will yield a higher level of audience interest and engagement.
It is essential for brands to develop a consistent TV schedule to reach their target audiences and attract new customers by running a wide range of different airings and channels. Building trust with customers has never been more important at a time such as this, utilizing the halo effect of TV paired with digital advertising will position your business to take full advantage of an omni-channel marketing strategy.
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