Coinbase’s Super Bowl Ad was Wildly Successful – Now What Happens?

A few years ago, I thought the QR code was officially dead. Fast forward to 2022, and it’s clear that the pandemic brought on a comeback, enabling us to mobile order and pay in the line at Starbucks or use a contactless menu at our favorite restaurant. That being said, I don’t think anyone could have anticipated the impact of a tiny QR code bouncing around the screen during the Super Bowl this weekend. 

As a part of cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase’s “Less Talk, More Bitcoin” campaign, the QR code led you to a promotional website offering $15 worth of Bitcoin to those who signed up, in addition to an entry to win $3M. Over 20 million people scanned the QR code in just one minute, and the Coinbase app became the #2 app on the App Store. Customers have until February 15th to claim the promotion, but many users were left unable to claim it, as the ad’s success led to the site’s crash. 

For years, companies have argued whether or not there was a justification for the ROI of these ads, with the ad cost ranging from $5-7M each. An average of 4.6 million people watch the Super Bowl each year, peaking at 5.2 million, leading to an average CPM (cost per thousand impressions) of $10. However, this year’s Super Bowl had 29 million U.S. households tuning in — a 19% jump in viewers over last year’s game and a record high. Not only was Coinbase’s marketing team able to provide immediate results, but they are set up with a highly-qualified, engaged audience to use for marketing purposes for the future. 

Upon accepting cookies on the site and downloading the app, users have shared their private information with the app, allowing permission for future promotional messages. Coinbase can use the custom or retargeting audiences they’ve created from these visitors across social, email and programmatic. Many channels will also allow for the creation of “Lookalike” audiences, which will create an audience similar to the users who opted in based on their similar interests, allowing Coinbase to engage with future customers who did not engage with the QR code during the spot. This includes remarketing to users across other apps that they use on mobile devices on a daily basis. 

Coinbase can also nurture these audiences across OTT (Over The Top), reaching viewers that stream video content on TV or mobile devices. The average OTT ad has a $30-40 CPM, but given targeting capabilities, will reach a more highly-qualified audience than the Super Bowl. These placements can be longer spots, with expanded messaging to help educate audiences on Coinbase’s offerings without paying the hefty fee associated with Super Bowl ads. 

There will also be impacts on the site’s SEO. Due to the high engagement on the site, Google will acknowledge the validity of the Coinbase site, and subsequently, all pages will likely increase in rankings for short and long-tail keywords, leading to ongoing higher website traffic for the brand. This surge in traffic will also likely lead to increases in their organic search presence. Although not the only factor for SEO, this is sure to be a long-term win for the Coinbase site.

As marketers, we can learn a lesson in how to clearly establish ROI from traditional awareness channels. Coinbase’s Super Bowl ad is a great case study for elevating the use of QR codes and pulling users lower through the funnel using linear TV, rather than taking an awareness play as most brands do. I imagine that many brands will copycat this technique in the near future, both in linear TV as well as other video channels. 

What other brands do you think hit the nail on the head with their Super Bowl ad? 

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