Clear Channel Betting on QR Codes

It wasn’t long ago that QR Codes seemed to be headed to the scrapheap of digital technology, but recently they’ve been seeing a bit of a revival. Now comes news that Clear Channel Outdoor (CCO) plans to use QR Codes at 75,000 locations, including shopping malls, airports, bus stops and so forth, where consumers have “heavy footfall and long dwell time.”

Their new initiative, which they’re calling “Connect,” was actually driven by consumers who were tuning into mobile ads on social media. “Connect presents the opportunity to target consumers on-the-go, when they are receptive to messages and can be delighted by timely, relevant and tailored invitations to engage,” Suzanne Grimes, chief operating officer of Clear Channel Outdoor, said in a statement.

The problem for Clear Channel, and other companies like theirs looking to attract advertisers, is that consumers today are more distracted than they’ve ever been. Indeed, in most airports you won’t find very many people looking around at signs, billboards or advertisements because they’re all staring intently at the screens of their smartphones and tablets.

In order to convince advertisers that they found a new way to get people to notice their signs, Clear Channel opted for QR Codes.

One of the main reasons is that QR Codes provide something that your average marketer drools over – data. Using QR Codes, Clear Channel will be able to tell their clients the exact number of people scanning their ads, exactly when they scanned them and, if they did, what steps they subsequently took toward making a purchase using their mobile device.

The big risk for Clear Channel, of course, is that the new QR Code advertisements perform poorly, as they’ve already done in the past. It’s been several years since any national brands were using QR Codes, due to several factors including that users need an app to scan them, they aren’t particularly pleasing to the eye and they don’t function well where there’s no cell phone service. As recently as last December they were even referred to as “robot vomit” by Digiday, the New York trade publisher.

That’s never a good sign, but Clear Channel hopes that their new QR Code ads will buck the trend.

 

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