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‘I couldn’t quite believe it’: QR codes improve TV ad response rate, Sky Media reveals


By Hannah Bowler, Senior Reporter

August 8, 2022 | 4 min read

There has been a lot of noise around QR codes, especially off the back of Coinbase’s $14m 60-second Super Bowl ad, but are they effective? Sky Media thinks so. It tells The Drum why.

Sky Mobile QR code ad campaign

Sky Mobile’s QR code ad campaign

Sky Media has been testing and experimenting with QR code integration since the back end of 2021. After executing around 20 QR code campaigns, Sky’s sales arm has now discovered the average response rate to QR codes in TV ads is between 0.3% and 0.8%. To put that into context, a typical direct response TV ad or click-through display ad with a response rate of 0.3% would be considered a success.

QR codes are being implemented in many categories, with brands such as Boots, Hendricks and Burger King jumping on the bandwagon. Adtech provider Undertone estimated usage in CTV ads is up 319% this year compared to 2021. We are only halfway through 2022.

Sky Media’s head of product propositions Matt Godsmark says he’s been inundated with questions from agencies asking how they work, and how can they use them.

According to Godsmark, what underpins this demand “is a requirement for greater accountability across all advertising.” He says: “Advertising and marketing directors are under pressure to make every penny count. I’ve heard of three or four occasions now of advertisers saying all ads need to have some form of tangible response mechanic. That is what our agency partners are being challenged with.”

Sky Media has developed a QR proposition for advertisers, but Godsmark admits “we are still learning about the role of the QR code.” Around a third of Sky Media campaigns have been issued through addressable TV, another third is broadcaster VOD and the rest is linear. So it’s safe to say that the scannables are being tested across all TV channels.

“The additional opportunity for someone to directly interact and engage can only be a positive,” he says. “It’s an opportunity to add a response engagement mechanic into a media that we know is already highly effective.”

Sky Media executed Sky Mobile’s 2021 QR code campaign, which used addressable TV to target a very specific audience. According to Godsmark, the campaign had a high success rate as the campaign used a narrow offer for a specific handset based on what Sky Mobile knew about how audiences respond to different offers and handset messages.

For the Sky Mobile campaign, QR code ads were tested against ads without QR codes, and the results showed an uplift in attribution for the ads with a QR code even where audiences hadn’t scanned.

“Our theory is that potentially having a well-integrated QR code makes the brand look good,” Godsmark says, boosting engagement with the creative. “I couldn’t quite believe it, but that is what the data shows.”

To deliver a higher response rate, Godsmark advises using addressable to target the right audience, build a call to action into the creative and give audiences the opportunity to engage. “If it’s just stuck in the corner as with ‘find out more,’” it would be less successful, he says.

Godsmark concludes that now is a perfect time “to do low-risk low-cost testing.”

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