Online shopping has fundamentally changed how we interact and engage with consumer brands. The minimal-interaction shopping trend, which reduces the requirement to visit physical stores, gained further currency due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Today, new sales and delivery models (like ‘Shop Now-Pick Later’) are becoming the norm that requires little to zero interaction with sales personnel or store managers.
These changes have been facilitated by several digital tools and technologies that have matured over the past decade to provide customers with an effortless, personalized, and engaging shopping experience. One such revolutionary technology that has seamlessly enabled digital interactions is QR Codes.
While QR Codes have been in use for payment, shipping, tracking, and inventory management for over a decade now, businesses are still finding new ways to use them for customer engagement. This is a testament to their protean character and versatile application. Their nature makes them easy to embed in different formats and mediums, and their ubiquity makes customers receptive. Of late, shoppable QR Codes are being increasingly used in TV commercials as well. The idea isn’t exactly new, but it saw limited exploration until the last couple of years. If you are wondering how you can leverage a device found in almost every living room to bolster your business and revenue, read on to know how to do it right.
How do QR Codes work on TV?
QR Codes present a highly interactive way to shop on TV. TV advertisements and commercials have traditionally been one-way traffic and usually use story-telling in different formats to get people to buy a product. But the digital world is more subtle; people want less distraction now in the middle of their entertainment. Ad-free and seamless content, like streaming on Netflix, is what they prefer and is what the TV is competing with.
Enter QR Codes. QR Codes have emerged as a way more effective tool for businesses to place advertisements and promotions recently. They are minimally disruptive in the sense that they are shown to viewers while they watch their content, without any break. Viewers can scan these QR Codes as they watch their favorite show, engage with the ad, and browse products.
Why are they becoming popular?
Despite massive attrition to new media platforms, TV still rules as a major medium for advertisement. But there’s a possibility that streaming and OTT platforms may overtake TV as the king of the ad platform in the near future.
While the gap between ad space between the TV and digital media is narrowing, experts suggest that digital is not likely to overtake TV before 2027-28. This leaves a wide opening for brands to leverage the best of both worlds. QR Codes are an effective technology to leverage this combination of TV and digital as they allow for a smooth user experience.
Another reason QR Codes are taking off is the users’ tendency to use their phones while watching TV or streaming a movie. This allows a chance to engage audiences by scanning a simple code; without having to change the channel, stop the movie, open a browser, or download a new particular app.
Best practices for using QR Codes during TV commercials
Deploying QR Codes for TV ads brings with it a whole set of etiquette and norms. Here are a few that you must be mindful of in order to maximize the impact and create the best user experience.
It would be futile to deploy a QR Code without a clear and simple call-to-action (CTA) for users to follow. Assume that a viewer is engrossed in their favorite TV show when your ad pops up with a QR Code; you must tell them what to do with it. Framing the QR Code and adding a simple text like “Scan the code for an extra 10% discount” or “Scan to shop” will nudge the viewer to act.
Go for dynamic over static QR Codes
Dynamic QR Codes are much more versatile and pack more information per pixel than static QR Codes. They are also easily scannable and can be customized as per need, which is not always possible with a static code. Dynamic QR Code generators can be used to create the perfect code for your ad.
Enhance visibility with higher contrast
The TV screen is constantly changing, and depending on the show, a lot can be happening on the screen simultaneously. Imagine a reality cooking TV show that has a timer, the name of the contestant, and the name of the dish all at the same time. Making sure that viewers take notice of the QR Code requires placing it on a contrasting background. Naturally, a dark-colored QR Code with a white background works best. Or, have a white QR Code on a dark background.
Beaconstac’s QR dashboard has a real-time contrast checker to prompt scannability scores.
Choose the location wisely
Do not deploy the QR Code bang in the middle of the screen where it tempers with the viewing experience; this is strictly discouraged and defeats the purpose. Choose a location where you want to show your ad that is the least invasive and easy on the eyes. Usually, banners towards the bottom or side work best during a show. When the QR Code is used as a part of a bigger ad, it can be placed in the center for greater prominence.
Don’t keep it moving
Scanning a QR Code shouldn’t be like hitting a running target. The ad, code, and CTA instruction should be at a fixed location on-screen and for long enough to let the viewer register and scan it. If you can’t get the required duration, ask viewers to pause for a second and scan the code. This can be done either via written text, voice, or little animation.
Cut it the right size
Since the TV screen size and the distance the audience maintains from the screen varies significantly from viewer to viewer, it can be tough to choose the right size.
The recommended distance for TV viewing is 3X the size of the TV screen.
The simplest way to calculate the size of a QR Code is using this formula:
QR Code minimum size = Scanning distance/10
This also means,
QR Code minimum size for TV = (3 x size of the TV screen) / 10
Time it right
TV ads are considered a nuisance by most and a disruption to their otherwise entertaining experience. QR Codes should not add to the injury but find ways to mitigate this feeling. The time depends on the type of CTA, the show, and the relevance of the content. For example, it would be counter-productive to ask viewers to scan a code during the last few minutes of a sports match or when a movie is about to end – that’s when they are the most engrossed.
Align your audience and program
This one’s easy to get right. Customer-facing business brands comprehensively study their target demographics and their choice of programs to plant their ads for maximum response. For example, you are more likely to see ads for energy drinks and sports shoes during matches and tournaments. The same rule applies for QR Code ads; analyze your demographic and the programs they are most likely to watch before you decide to place the advertisement.
Create a quiet zone around the code
To separate the pixels of the QR Code from other visuals on the screen, maintain a ‘quiet zone’ around it. This will ensure that audiences are able to scan it instantly as it becomes easier to scan the code. If you don’t add a quiet zone, your QR Code might just have a high rate of failure.
QR Codes in TV commercials: The last word
As our TV viewing habits, sources for entertainment, and preferences for different platforms evolve, advertisements and promotions will have to keep up. QR Code-based commercials on televisions have enormous potential for businesses to directly engage with the most relevant demographic, collect reliable customer data, and be creative while promoting products. With a few adjustments to the conventional TV commercial format, QR Codes can offer businesses a new avenue for marketing and customer engagement.