A study by Competitrack, an advertising tracking firm that began tracking print ads using QR codes in 2011, revealed that financial services has been making extensive use of this technology: 6.7% of all QR code activity, third following retail (21.9%) and technology (13.6%). This is notable, as the financial services industry is generally not an early adapter to new technologies.
Competitrack listed the top 30 companies using QR codes in their print advertising: OppenheimerFunds ranked number one (85%); State Street, number four (61%); Aetna, number eight (33%); American Express, number 13 (21%); and Chase, number 18 (15%).1 According to Competitrack, more than three out of every five print ads run by OppenheimerFunds and State Street in 2011 featured QR codes.
Martha Willis, CMO, OppenheimerFunds, said that the QR codes drive people to GlobalizeYourThinking.com, a site that delivers “snackable” content to advisors who can then send it to their clients, including white papers, investment ideas and multimedia. So instead of handing out brochures, advisors can “share these little streaming infomercials.”
With this program, OppenheimerFunds received the kind of exposure—20,000 video downloads overall, QR code directly responsible for 1,000 views in 2½ months—that “would have taken [them] 20 years using the in-person model.”2
Willis draws attention to the fact that by embracing new technologies, advisors and asset managers project an image of being on the cutting edge. Using outdated modes of communication can be harmful to a brand. Asset managers should make confident use of technology and trends.
Another example of incorporating QR codes into a marketing strategy is Emerald’s QRConnect program. Emerald is a company that provides financial advisors with turnkey seminar systems, websites, newsletters and other marketing materials. For its newsletter and website clients, a QR code is placed on the front of each newsletter. When the end clients scan it, they are brought to additional content hosted on the participating advisor’s website. This encourages the client to visit the entire advisor site and provides a touch point, efficiently and cheaply.
The recent study from Competitrack and Emerald’s early adoption suggest a shift in the industry’s historically skeptical view of new technology and nontraditional marketing approaches.
 Competitrack, “Black White, and Read All Over,” 2012. (http://www.competitrack.com/nhpub/2dcodes/index.html)
 B2B, “Close-Up with Martha Willis, CMO, OppenheimerFunds,” March 30, 2011.