Snapchat Is Working to Bring QR Codes Back from the Dead with New Scannable Ads

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The next time you stop by your local bus stop, which happens to be a PokeStop, look again. It may turn out that your bus stop’s poster ad is also a scannable coupon.

Snapchat is working on technology that could make your smartphone camera a barcode scanner, capable of unlocking deals and promotions by reading QR codes that are stamped on products, posters, and on websites. The report first surfaced on The Information and cited two anonymous sources.

The temporary photo and video messaging app first acquired QR scanning technology when it purchased, a QR code startup, in 2014 according to Techcrunch. The first application of the technology gave each user a unique QR code, called “Snapcodes”, that could be used to add new friends. It also allowed users to scan QR codes linked to websites and videos and automatically have them detected on Snapchat.

Quartz reports that Snapchat’s foray into snappable ads may be linked to a patent application that the company filed in 2015. The patent application’s image shows a person scanning a QR code on a bus stop advertisement of a music festival and unlocking promotional material and deals within the Snapchat app.

Snapchat is clearly ramping up its ad revenue game and hoping that snappable ads garner more interest from marketing teams and brands who seek to peddle their wares through mobile apps. Snappable ads may give advertisers a new way to direct content to Snapchat users, as Fortune notes, but it faces steep competition for advertising money from Facebook. While Facebook waits three seconds before counting a video ad view, Snapchat counts it the moment it begins playing, likely due to the quick-fire manner in which users engage with the app.

Of course, while this sounds good in theory, the most obvious hurdle this plan must overcome is the lack of QR code adoption on products and advertisements. QR codes are far from being commonly used currently, as anyone can attest, and it remains to be seen whether companies will see the light and jump on board.

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