A programmatic print ad, courtesy QR code!

Back in 2010, I noticed a QR code in a Ford Figo print ad and wondered what it leads to. See: What really happens to the QR code in Ford Figo’s print ad?

Today, The Economic Times Mumbai edition has a front-page ad by ITC Hotels that also has a QR code with the very tempting call-out, “Scan for a one of a kind experience”.

I did and was taken to a 2-minute YouTube video of ITC Royal Bengal.

From Ford Figo to ITC, between 10 years, nothing seems to have changed in QR code land – take people to pre-existing properties that they could more naturally stumble on through a simple search if they were interested enough. There seems to be no thought behind the fact that you are asking a user to perform an action and such an action is far more indulgent mainly because it is breaking their existing usage pattern of the media (static, offline, print media) and getting them out of it.

Scanning a QR code is a conscious action, done with specific intent of knowing more. To show generic content as a result of that action is to waste that indulgence bestowed upon the brand by a user.

Shouldn’t brands/agencies be thinking of how to blow the users’ mind (impress them on a higher level) for that action?

How? Here’s a starting point.

This is a print ad from Brazil, on July 26, 2019.

If you go past the middling English, this is being touted as the first programmatic print ad! Created by the agency Isobar, the QR code picks up the geolocation (if accessible) and time of day to determine what kind of ad a user would see! In this particular ad featuring 3 fast-food restaurants, the offerings are related to breakfast items in the morning, lunch at noon, ice cream in the middle of the afternoon, and meals at night.

This is a very good phygital twist to an otherwise static print ad!