I was watching the Super Bowl at a friend’s house (for the commercials, of course — the Packers didn’t make it this year.) And suddenly, in between the game and the standard blockbuster ads, I saw … this.
Of course I had to get up and scan it. Why wouldn’t I?
The code took you to a Coinbase page. The page was functional, no-frills. The ad did its job. It grabbed my attention. And a lot of other people’s attention too.
The ad created 20 million hits on the landing page in less than one minute. The Coinbase app went from 186th place on the App Store to 2nd in popularity. Engagement was six times higher than previous benchmarks. They crashed their own app.
Advertisers and marketers lauded the ad — despite the fact that it was literally just a QR code bouncing around the screen.
Every brand spent millions on their Super Bowl spots.@coinbase spent basically nothing and will get more direct traffic than any brand today.
— Jack Appleby (@JuiceboxCA) February 14, 2022
Why did a QR code alone create such a response?
Coinbase’s ad succeeded because they understood and communicated with their audience. And your content can too.
Audience Understanding: The Key to Effective Marketing
The QR code ad targeted a very specific audience.
Not everyone liked the ad. In fact, it ranked in the bottom 5 of USA Today’s public poll for Super Bowl ads.
But that was part of the design. The ad speaks to an audience that would see AND scan the QR code. 20 million people did. Even at $6.5 million for the 30-second spot, that is less than 33 cents per lead. That’s a huge success.
Even though 20 million people may be a fraction of the Super Bowl audience, it’s the fraction that Coinbase cared about. They weren’t trying to reach everybody. They were trying to reach their audience. Focus on your audience, not someone else’s.
The Power of Focus
60% of Super Bowl watchers indicated that they were going to keep up with the game on multiple devices. That’s up 16% year over year.
This ad taps into this behavior directly. And, Coinbase assumed that with a crypto-interested audience skewing even more technical that they would have their phones and know what to do: scan the QR code. They knew who their audience was and the ad was made to appeal to certain demographics.
This ad was for you if:
- You know what a QR code is
- You have a smartphone
- You’re likely to scan a random QR code without regard for possible risk
- You’re interested in something different and unique
Because of its format, the ad automatically interested people who were likely to be prospects — and turned away people who are less likely to convert.
Creativity that Counts
There’s power in “we know you.” Think of a typical software ad or piece of content. “We know your needs and can fill them” has appeal to your audience.
You know what has more appeal?
“We ARE you.”
Brands like Blue Bottle Coffee and Patagonia build their brand stories on the fact that their product is good because it’s something they use. Enthusiast brands tap into a vein of loyalty that “we know you” can’t touch.
Coinbase’s visual language and the fact that they used a QR code signaled not just “we know you,” but “we ARE you.” There were little touches in the creativity that showed a familiarity with tech, internet and meme culture — without coming across as ham-fisted or exploitative.
The bouncing QR code calls to mind ancient video games such as Pong and the Atari system — but it’s also directly inspired by the bouncing DVD logo and the memes spawned from it. The colors are familiar to anyone who used 16- or 32-color displays (heck, go back even further and they’re familiar if you used a single-color display). The music is evocative of arcade and video games. The whole ad is a nod to retro tech and Internet culture, rendered simply and clearly.
It’s one thing to tell your audience you care about their needs. It’s a completely different and far more effective strategy to show them that you speak their language. The crypto audience may be changing, but its roots still lie in Internet culture — and the ad spoke to that.
Content That Works
Coinbase’s ad worked because it appealed to their audience. They weren’t talking to everyone. They were talking to their potential customers. And there’s power in that.
Understand your audience and communicate with them in their own language. And if you need a little assistance with your content, feel free to reach out. We’re here to help.
Just drop us a line, anytime.
Rainmaker Digital Services