QR Code & Augmented Reality Treasure Hunts

RETURN2SENDER 19 March 2024

QR Code & Augmented Reality Treasure Hunts

Long before QR codes and smartphones took over, there was a time when treasure hunts or ‘scavenger hunts’ used to be a case of handing our pens and paper and telling players to find the clues, tick them off and report back to base.

Fast forward to the Pokemon Go era where new advances in technology has enabled a whole new level of treasure hunt game play leveraging  QR codes, smartphones, geo technologies and augmented reality.

So, what are QR Code treasure hunts exactly?

In summary Qr code treasure hunts or any type of treasure hunt are a fun and clever way of leveraging game psychology to engage shoppers or employees over a continued period of time. Because the treasure hunt is game and players have to use their own skill, players retain information better and this in turn improves their motivation, participation, and overall experience.

What are the types of QR code Treasure Hunts?

1.QR Code Trail: Players follow simple instruction, then go from one location to another location, scan a QR code ( as proof of visiting or completing, and if they complete the steps they get a prize or reward) – we did one of these for Jameson where players had to visit 4 pubs, scan 4 unique codes at each pub to unlock a free serve of Jameson.  Each player got a nice personalised, certificate, to share on social media as proof of completion.

2. Treasure hunt with map/trail, quizzes, clues and or photos: These types of treasure hunts don’t really require QR codes as part of the game play. In this example players must follow clues and once they find their way to a location, they must submit a photo or answer a question based on the place they are at, to progress to the next level and unlock the clues.

3. Trail with a map and items to capture PLUS geo-location: This treasure hunt is similar to above but like Pokemon Go this leverages geo technologies to nudge players along and also use geo location as a way of validating that users have arrived at the specified location. In these types of games, clues are only unlocked when the user is at the specified location and or finds the digital icon or animation ( that is usually presented in their camera view). We did one of these for a Breast Cancer Awareness Charity, Pine2Pink, where players went to specific geo-locations to capture rewards in Augmented Reality.

4. Augmented Reality (AR): Augmented reality treasure hunts or ‘scavengAR hunts’ ( geddit?!)) work where players are required to go to specific locations and then use their camera to scan posters to reveal instant prizes or clues or rewards that allow them to progress to the next level. These types of treasure hunts are similar to the first one above (1.QR Code Trail) but, in this instance players must scan an image or object with AR, not a QR code, to progress to the next level. We did one of these recently at an event for WSI Ireland at the RDS where players scanned a poster and the poster, using AR, magically came to life.

Points to consider when creating a QR code or other type of treasure hunt? 

Who is the target audience – how family are they with tech?
Where is the treasure hunt taking place? consider the weather, 4G signal, crowds, noise etc
Brand – how is the brand represented? is it too tecchie? a combination of paper and tech always works well ( aka ‘phygital’)
Brand awareness – how will we promote it?
User retention- how do we keep users playing and not let them lose interest, it needs to be fun and the interface design needs to be immaculate ( paper can help here too)
Plan B – what is our plan B if there is tech meltdown
Prizes – how do we distribute vouchers? physical prizes help with WOM but digital vouchers are much easier to distribute and safer


Nike: https://thenextarchives.com/ideas/in-store-ar-scavenger-hunt-for-nikes-outdoor-adventure-line-acg/
Nike SneakAR drop: https://www.marketingdive.com/news/foot-locker-transforms-nike-sneaker-drop-into-ar-treasure-hunt/540189/
Cadbury WorldWide Hide: https://www.vccp.com/work/cadbury/the-worldwide-hide-is-back

Where to next?

Contact us below and we will tailor a QR code treasure hunt or any type of treasure hunt to your campaign goals and budget.

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