TfL QR Followup - 5,000 scans per month!

At the start of 2012, I revealed how many scans TfL's QR campaign was getting.

TfL QR Detail

A lot of comments on Twitter & Google+ dismissed these results as a success. A typical response was:

70 scans a day? In a city of millions? Rubbish!

This fails to address something that advertisers are conspicuously loathe to reveal - the true "response rate" of any advert is hard to calculate. How many phone calls, visits to a website, or SMS interactions are directly attributable to a regular poster? No one really knows - or, if they know, they're not telling.

For the first time, we're able to see how many people are reacting to an advert, scanning a code, and then visiting a site.

Currently, TfL's campaign is running at 5,000 scans per month - peaking at 259 scans on April 3rd.
tfl statistics 5000 clicks

Or, 16,000 in the last five months.
tfl statistics months 16000 clicks
With a rather nice growth in usage in the last few months.

Here come the nay-sayers....

But... But.... How many sites is that across? Millions of people, thousands of sites, only a few scans? Rubbish!

So, I performed a Freedom of Information request to TfL.

There were around 400 sites showing these posters in November. That may have changed by now.

Ideally, I would have liked TfL to have created a unique QR code for each poster. That way we could see Putney gets more scans than Waterloo, for example. But I appreciate the logistical difficulties of that!

Phone Use

We also get some interesting statistics about the makes of phones that Londoners use:

PlatformsCountPercentageChange from January

iPhone has surged ahead - at the expense of Android and BlackBerry. Windows Phone 7 still remains a minority sport.

Haterz Gonna H8

Frankly, I don't care too much what the doom-mongers say. Having over 16,000 responses to a poster campaign sounds like a success to me. And, best of all, the data is open for anyone to investigate.

If you disagree with me - I polietly ask you to show your workings 🙂

6 thoughts on “TfL QR Followup - 5,000 scans per month!

  1. I'm a doomsayer & proud of it. QR is even more pointless than NFC, and that's saying something.

    16,000 scans across 400 sites = average of 40/site. Over what, 100-ish days? So less than once per day per site.

    Compared with how many people who either type in a link they've read, or find the app in an appstore each day? Or who've read a free newspaper or done any manner of other activity in a bus-stop?

    To be fair though, I have now seen one person scanning a QR code in a public space (a geeky guy at LAX airport, scanning the TSA's "how was your security today?" code)

    Let's be generous & say that each site got 5 scans per week. It costs about £120/week for a poster advert on a bus shelter*, so each one would effectively cost £24 (plus design & printing). Good value for marketeers?


    * - source:

    1. To be fair, I've *never* seen anyone type in a URL on their phone after seeing an advert, nor place a phonecall after transcribing the number printed on a poster. But I guess they do.

      As of this month, it's close to 200 scans per day. However, I don't think that TfL pay for ad space on their own shelters (although you could count that as opportunity cost).

      The question is, if you printed a unique phone number on your posters, you could measure how many calls they got. Has anyone done this?

  2. Violet Berlin says:

    I am a yay-sayer, not a nay-sayer. If TFL were using this spare solely for the QR code, then it might seem a lot of trouble for such a small (albeit increasing) response. However, as I understand it, the QR code is an extra item at the bottom of a poster that is providing its own message in a traditional way. So, QR = bonus!

  3. Vikram says:

    Quick question: How does a QR code work in the underground tube station without internet?

      1. These are on bus shelters - mostly in areas of good signal.
      2. Most QR readers will cache a scanned code for you to access later.
      3. I'm told that some tube stations will be getting WiFi for the Olympics.

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