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Subway Ads + QR Codes: NYC's Underground Advertising Revolution

April 3, 2023
5 minutes
NYC Subway

A redirect is a tool used by websites for “rerouting” or sending a visitor to an alternative webpage. An example of a redirect would be when you type “example.com” in your web-browser, but are taken to a different website, like “new-example.com.”

URL redirects are an extremely common practice employed by webmasters and content managers to ensure visitors to their website are reaching their desired content.

When would I use a redirect?

  1. A page has been relocated within your site
    Let’s say your website has a page by the path “/t-shirts” – The “t-shirts” page has been a part of your website sitemap for years, and is one of your most frequently visited pages. Suddenly, you need to build out a more general page on your site that has t-shirts, and dress shirts. Your goal is to have the new page be accessible by a shorter, more general path, like “/shirts”. In this situation, you would want to use a URL redirect to ensure that traffic for the page “/t-shirts” is successfully rerouted to the new “/shirts” page of your website. Without a redirect in place, you could run the risk of visitors still accessing the old /t-shirts page, even though you want to drive all traffic to the new /shirts page. Due to the nature of SEO, it’s possible that there are many links throughout the Internet that still point visitors to the old URL, and it is the job of the URL redirect to ensure visitors still make it to the appropriate page.
  2. Your domain name is changing!
    Changing a website’s domain name is a drastic decision which must be handled with the utmost care. Let’s say your website has always been www.abc-brand.com. Due to a rebranding effort, you are changing your brand from “ABC” to “XYZ”, and thus your website’s URL will need to be adjusted to reflect the change. In this scenario, it would be critical that you 301 redirect all traffic requesting “abc-brand.com” to the new and improved “xyz-brand.com”. Furthermore, you would want to ensure that all pages within the abc-brand website are also redirected, like abc-brand.com/my-page being redirected to xyx-brand.com/my-page
  3. You have alternative domains that you wish to serve as “shortcuts” into your website
    It is a common practice for businesses to buy dozens of domain names that:
  • Are spelled similarly to their business name – consider “gogle.com” that redirects to google.com
  • Are variations of their name that visitors may otherwise know them as – consider “joes-tees.com” that redirects to the main business website, “joes-shirts.com”
  • Are shortened, easily typed versions of the primary domain name – consider “shirtsale2019.com” redirecting to “joes-shirts.com”. It is common to find this shorter, more memorable URL variation on physical advertisements because people are more likely to remember them. As such, a URL redirect would be used to reroute the alternative domain name to your primary domain name of your website.

How does a redirect actually work?

When you request a web-page from your browser, there is a server somewhere on the Internet that is receiving your request and responding with the appropriate content. Fundamentally, a redirect occurs when a web-server's response contains a special piece of data (an HTTP response header) instructing the browser to reroute the visitor to an alternative location.

The technical details aside, a browser works by requesting a URL and rendering the page that is returned by the website. If the website wishes the user to be redirected, the server will respond differently than if it was serving a page; it will send an extra piece of data indicating that the visitor should be redirected to a specified location.

Without going into too much of the technical details – a redirect is a behavior performed by a web-browser whenever it receives a response containing a flag (an HTTP header) to do so.

What are the types of redirects available?

301 Redirect

Commonly referred to as a “permanent” redirect.

Indicates to search-engines and web-browsers that the requested page has permanently relocated to a new location.

Note: permanent redirects are often cached by web-browsers like Chrome and Firefox. Therefore, it may be tricky to retroactively update a 301 redirects target location once it has been established. Any visitors who have already received the 301 redirect response for a URL will likely be served a cached response from their web-browser when visiting the same URL again.

Suggestion Only use a 301 redirect when you know that the target location will not change.

Common Uses

  • A 301 redirect is appropriate when a website is changing it’s domain name. In this scenario, the site should be 301 redirecting all traffic for it’s old domain name to the new website URL.
  • Another common use-case for a 301 redirect is for pages within your website that have been permanently moved to a new URL

302 Redirect

Commonly referred to as a “temporary” redirect.

Useful for general-purpose redirects within your website, where you do not want visitor’s to cache the redirect response permanently.

Suggestion Use 302 redirects for pages that have changed URL, but are subject to be updated in the future

Common Uses

  • A page is temporarily being moved to a new URL
  • Conditions where the destination location of the redirect is subject to change
  • Navigating the user away from a page during an error

307 Redirect

Uncommon due to legacy browser support

Used for technical scenarios when a visitor’s HTTP request method should be persisted when they are redirected. For example, if a user submits a form, the browser normally issues a POST request to the form’s action URL. If the server responds with a 302 redirect response, the client’s web-browser would typically issue a GET request when handling the redirect. However, if the server responds with a 307 redirect response, the client’s web-browser will POST request to the redirect destination. Please note, form-data is typically lost when redirecting via POST request.

When do I need a redirect?

The most common use-cases that would require a redirect are:

  1. Changing your domain name
  2. Restructuring website pathing, resulting in URL changes for content within your website
  3. URL shortening – having a shorter, more memorable alternative to your primary domain name.
  4. Sending traffic from additional/alternative domain names (Example: gogle.com redirects to google.com)
  5. Sending traffic from your DNS zone apex / naked domain name to your “www” sub-domain (Example: domain.com 301 redirects to www.domain.com)

Important considerations when redirecting a URL

  1. Ensure your URL supports HTTPS connections! Otherwise you may have visitors who are receiving broken links.
  2. When redirecting a specific path within your website, you may want to match paths based on a pattern or Regular Expression, as opposed to a single path.
  3. Seriously consider whether you should use a 301 or a 302, based on the information above.

How to Create QR Codes for Marketing and AdvertisingQR Codes in NYC Subway Ads

As popular and effective as NYC subway ads have been over the years, they haven’t changed too much — until recently. Innovative technology is giving companies new ways to entice and engage with potential customers. In particular, QR codes are transforming this advertising platform and offer unprecedented returns for businesses that understand how to capitalize on their potential.

Smart companies have been taking advantage of New York City’s subway system as an advertising platform for years. After all, millions of people ride the subway in New York City every day, and with New York being one of the most expensive cities in the world, many of those riders have money to spend. They’re also sitting or standing in place for a prolonged period of time, and they’re looking for something to distract or entertain them during their commute.

What Are QR Codes?

QR codes, short for Quick Response codes, are two-dimensional barcodes that can be instantly scanned using a smartphone. Invented in Japan, their original use was for tracking inventory, but it didn’t take long for people to notice their potential applications in advertising. When used in ads, QR codes provide an immediate and interactive way to bridge the gap between the physical and digital worlds. By scanning a QR code, viewers can immediately act on an ad they see, whether they’re accessing information, unlocking a discount, opening a sign-up form, buying a product, or anything in between.

Benefits of QR Codes in Subway Ads

Combining one of the most successful advertising platforms with game-changing new technology is a clear recipe for success. However, there are even more benefits to using QR codes in subway ads than most people realize.

More Interaction, More Engagement

Traditional ads require viewers to remember what the ads are promoting and follow up later, which can lead to a huge drop-off in potential customers. Now subway riders have a fun, fast, and easy way to interact with an ad that piques their interest. By capitalizing on the interest of potential customers in the moment, businesses can generate much higher conversion rates than with traditional ads.

Connecting Offline and Online Marketing

QR codes give companies and organizations a way to connect their offline and online marketing, allowing for seamless integration with other digital marketing efforts. In a way, it allows businesses to extend and unify their brand experience beyond devices and into the real world. This helps potential customers enter a brand’s ecosystem, so even if they don’t become a customer right away, they are more likely to become one in the future. Companies are then able to continue the conversation initiated by the subway ad through various other marketing channels, including CRM emails, retargeting ads, and social media.

Insights and Analytics

One of the most important advantages offered by QR codes is access to analytics. When running traditional ads, companies can estimate how many people saw the ad and then look for an increase in sales or traffic to the website. It’s hard to confidently attribute new business to a particular ad campaign, and determining ROAS (return on ad spend) is very difficult. In contrast, businesses that run ads with QR codes are able to see how many people scan the code, as well as when the scans take place and where the traffic is coming from. It’s even possible to dig deeper and analyze the data to learn more about potential customers and gain insights on behavior, preferences, and trends. All of this information enables more effective optimization for better performance.

A Cost-Effective Solution

Companies often worry that taking advantage of the latest technology is expensive, but QR codes are surprisingly cost-effective. That’s because most good QR-code platforms, such as SiteDetour, make it free and easy to update and modify QR codes after they’ve been created, meaning the pages that the codes link to can be changed at any time. Existing ads with QR codes can be updated to direct traffic to new landing pages with current information, seasonal promotions, and more. This enables companies to optimize their campaigns while they’re running and make real-time adjustments based on the analytics they’re seeing, all without needing to pay for new ads.

Expanded Reach

New York City is an incredibly diverse city, and its subway system is no different. Not only are subway ads seen by a large amount of people, but they’re seen by people from a wide range of demographics. Of course, companies can choose to place their ads in specific stations that align with their target demographics, or they can place them on the trains themselves and see which audience groups engage most with the ads.With so many different cultures in New York, it’s common to see traditional subway ads with multiple versions, each written in a different language. Dynamic QR codes, such as those created through SiteDetour’s QR-code generator, can easily be configured to direct users to different web pages based on their preferred language. That means that one ad can serve personalized, relevant content to a wide variety of users.

How to Create QR Codes for Marketing and Advertising

Creating QR codes is easy and straightforward, and there are a number of online QR-code generators available. These range from free services with limited options to expensive platforms that provide extensive features and capabilities. While different companies might value different functionalities, it is recommended to use a platform that provides customizable colors and designs, real-time analytics, and the ability to modify QR-code links retroactively. These features ensure that you can create eye-catching QR codes, monitor their performance, and make updates and optimizations as necessary.

SiteDetour’s Smart QR Codes

SiteDetour offers one of the most advanced QR-code generators available, complete with all the most popular features and then some. Users can customize the appearance of their QR codes and view in-depth analytics, all through a friendly dashboard that makes monitoring performance and making changes easy and intuitive.

What really sets SiteDetour’s platform apart, though, is its targeting and personalization capabilities. SiteDetour’s smart QR Codes can be configured to display different content to different users based on a variety of parameters, including location, device type, date, and time. This opens up a ton of possibilities for innovative content, such as landing pages that display in the visitor's preferred language, menus that change depending on the time of day, special offers unique to each NYC borough, and anything else you can imagine.

Benefits of Dynamic QR Codes

Customize Your Look

Fully customize your QR codes with brand-specific options like color, style, logo, and more to encourage interaction and provide your customers with a consistent experience.

Change Your Target Destination Retroactively

Just because your QR is printed doesn’t mean you can’t change it — SiteDetour makes it easy to edit the target destinations of your QR codes whenever you want, perfect for running seasonal promotions and campaigns, or simply updating whenever your website changes.

Add Personalization Rules

SiteDetour is the first and only QR code platform to support personalization. The intuitive dashboard makes it easy to configure your QR codes based on a wide range of targeting parameters, such as geolocation, time, day of the week, and device type.

Enjoy Real-time Analytics

With real-time analytics available directly in your dashboard, you’ll be able to analyze performance and get the most out of your QR codes. Break down your data by date, location, and referring domains to identify trends in audience behavior and monitor the impact of any updates you make.

Supercharge Your Marketing Efforts Today

Unlock the power of Dynamic QR Codes and streamline your URL Redirect management with SiteDetour.

URL Redirect Link Management