Coinbase's Super Bowl QR Code Ad Crashes The App

Coinbase Global, the largest U.S. cryptocurrency exchange, made its Super Bowl debut with a QR code ad so popular that it crashed the app and forced the company to throttle traffic to its site.

The company reported “more traffic than we’ve ever encountered,” which meant it needed to “throttle traffic for a few minutes,” Chief Product Officer Surojit Chatterjee tweeted.

He wrote that the teams pulled together, only requiring the company to throttle traffic for a few minutes. “Humbled to have been witness to this,” he wrote.

The 60-second ad almost entirely consisted of a colorful bouncing QR code.

When scanned, the code brought viewers to Coinbase's landing page and campaign, “Less talk, more Bitcoin,” that offered a limited-time promotion of $15 worth of free Bitcoin to those new to the sign-up, along with a $3 million giveaway that site visitors could enter.



Downdetector users reported problems shortly after Coinbase aired the Super Bowl ad.

Coinbase spent about $14 million on its ad, according to one media outlet. The dollar amount is based on prevailing rates. It’s not clear whether that includes the acquisition cost to lure new sign-ups.

Meta quickly jumped into the fray after Coinbase’s ad debut, The Meta Quest Twitter account tweeted “Hopefully this doesn't break,” with a bouncing QR code that linked out to the company’s Foo Fighters-led VR game afterparty.

Lisa Plaggemier, interim executive director of the National Cybersecurity Alliance (NCA), believes that in terms of cybersecurity, this ad might have been one of the most dangerous, because cybercriminals may repost the Super Bowl ad on social media with their own QR code, with the goal of gathering sensitive information and data.

It also could set a precedent for viewers to instantly scan QR codes, even ones that are not vetted.

2 comments about "Coinbase's Super Bowl QR Code Ad Crashes The App".
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  1. John Antil from University of Delaware, February 14, 2022 at 6:31 p.m.

    It most likely crashed because it was planned that way for what was thought to be great publicity. If you have way too low server capacity, it will crash. If you plan to have way too low server capacity it will crash. Where are the real numbers? How could one of the worse ads on the Super Bowl attract so many consumers to something no one even knew what it was and most all viewers not even know who the sponsor is or what they do? Maybe the ad should have explained what they do, not just a major fake.

  2. John Grono from GAP Research, February 15, 2022 at 5:27 p.m.

    Hmmm.   Some random thoughts:

    “more traffic than we’ve ever encountered,” can be construed  that as they didn't expect much of a response ... or maybe they just didn't plan well enough ... or maybe they were factoring in a server crash to create some follow-up chatter in the media

    meant it needed to  “throttle traffic for a few minutes,” can be construed as the fervour was only short-lived as people gave up and it went back to business as usual

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