Just 11% of European consumers have scanned a QR code in an outdoor advert, according to a new a survey by CBS Outdoor.

This is despite the fact that the study showed that more than half (54%) of respondents are aware of what QR codes are for. 

It does need to be taken into account that outdoor advertising refers exclusively to billboards and posters, with press ads not included in the survey.

The Interactive Europe 2013 report also found that 75% of urban audiences now own a smartphone, up from 56% last year, so the opportunity for targeting them with mobile and interactive ads is huge.

Overall though, the report found that awareness of interactive advertising technology remains quite low.

Though awareness of QR codes increased by 14%, just 17% have heard of location based vouchers and check-ins, 14% are aware of augmented reality and NFC awareness increased by just 2% to 8%.

Awareness of interactive technologies

We’ve covered QR codes extensively on the blog, noting that brands still frequently deliver a poor user experience although Toyota stands out as a notable exception.

Furthermore, we recently blogged eight best practice tips for using QR codes in marketing as well as highlighting good and bad examples of the technology.

Out-of-home responses

The report also asked respondents which actions they had carried out in response to an out-of-home advert.

As mentioned, 11% said they had scanned a QR code, which is actually fewer than the amount of people who said they went on to download an app (13%) or ‘like’ a brand on Facebook (16%).

Almost a third of respondents (32%) said that an out-of-home advert had caused them to go online for more information, while 24% said they had actually made an online purchase as a result and 7% had bought the product using their mobile.

Personally I’m dubious as to whether these results are entirely accurate, as it’s unlikely that a quarter of Europeans have made a purchase simply because they saw a product on a billboard. Even CBS Outdoor would admit that the average purchase journey is far more complex than that.

But it does suggest that outdoor advertising has a big impact on consumers and that advertisers should be willing to experiment with interactive features.

Types of response driven by out-of-home advertising

CBS Outdoor carried out its survey using Kantar Media. In total it carried out 5,283 interviews within the UK, Ireland, France, Italy, Netherlands and Spain.