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The Pulse: QR Code Advertising

April 5, 2022

As I sat at a bar still with hope that my hometown team – the Cincinnati Bengals – would win the Super Bowl, a QR code began to dance across the screen for a full 60 seconds during the most expensive advertising time in television. I looked around the bar and watched as others almost instinctively took their smartphones and scanned the QR code. The dancing QR code ended up being one of the most memorable ads of the Super Bowl. 38% of US adults remembering seeing the ad a month later. Of those consumers, 30% correctly recalled that the ad was for Coinbase and 17% thought it was for 8.7% of US Adults, or roughly 22.7 million Americans, said that they scanned the QR code during the Super Bowl which was enough to crash the Coinbase website. This led to 25% of those that scanned the ad to get an error message. 62% of those that scanned were able to successfully access the $15 worth of free bitcoin that Coinbase was promoting. By all accounts, Coinbase’s dancing QR code got America’s attention.

The Rise of QR Codes

Coinbase’s advertising aside, QR codes have been rising in popularity, especially since the beginning of the pandemic. 76% of consumers have used their smartphone to scan a QR code. Of those consumers that have used a QR code, 58% agree that they have become more comfortable using QR codes since the beginning of the pandemic. Of the 24% of consumers that have not used their smartphone to scan a QR code, 41% say that they don’t know how to scan them. Those of you who might view older generations, especially Baby Boomers, as being less tech-enabled will be surprised to know that there was not a significant difference between generations.


QR Code Uses

There are a lot of uses for QR codes. The number one use for consumers is scanning restaurant menus (55%). Other top uses are downloading an app (36%), tracking a package (30%), and tickets for an event (28%). Two uses very near and dear to my heart, surveys and advertisements, both have been used by 18% of consumers.


QR Codes in Advertising

Digging more into the subject of QR codes in advertising, 52% of US Adults agree that they are open to scanning QR codes that appear in advertisements. Some interesting generational differences emerge for this statistic. Gen Z (45%) and Baby Boomers (46%) are both significantly less supportive of scanning QR codes that appear in advertisements than Millennials (60%) or Gen X (53%). Typically Gen Z is more supportive of using technology in new ways, but QR codes in advertisements seem to break that trend.


Physical Environment QR Code Uses

Consumers are more likely to scan a QR code in an advertisement when it appears in their physical environment vs. a digital environment. The top three locations that are most likely for consumers to scan are product displays at store/mall (61%), a flyer or poster (47%), and magazine ads (45%).


QR Codes’ Advertising Functions

QR codes can perform a lot of different functions in advertisements. The most popular reasons to scan a QR code in an advertisement is to access discounts/promotions (63%) and to learn more about a product/service (56%). Even among those that said that they were not open to scanning QR codes in advertisements, 58% said that they would scan a QR code to access promotions/deals. The least popular reasons were to find a business’ location (24%) and interact on social media (19%).

Written by Jake Kelley, Director, Reporting at Big Village Insights.


This Online CARAVAN® omnibus survey was conducted on February 25-27, 2021. Approximately 1,000 adults selected from opt-in panels were surveyed. The results are also weighted to U.S. Census data to be demographically representative. Written by the CARAVAN team at Big Village Insights. Learn more about our Online CARAVAN® omnibus surveys here. Contact us at for more information.