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.