Placed Research: How Advertising has Evolved for QSR & Fast Casual Restaurants

QSR campaigns perform well compared to other verticals or categories.

The ubiquity of mobile devices has dramatically changed the landscape for restaurant advertising, particularly for Quick-Serve (QSR) and Fast Casual. No longer constrained to the desktop, digital advertisers have embraced the possibilities of mobile data and continue to do so—digital ad spend measured by Placed for QSR and Fast Casual increased by over 1,000% between 2014 and 2018.

In this new paper from Placed Research, we explore unexpected and useful insight gained through nuanced location analysis that can be used to guide advertising strategy:

  • QSR marketers do better than average in terms of lift and efficiency
  • Audio and Social apps are the most cost-effective channels for influencing QSR customers
  • QSR and Fast Casual marketers spend efficiently on TV
  • Tactical incrementality is strongest for younger & less loyal customers

Read the full report here, or contact to learn more.

Where Millennials and McWraps Meet, Contradictions Abound

Millennials are a tricky population to understand, challenging marketers to devise innovative strategies to reach and engage this often fickle consumer segment. The fast food industry in particular is striving to understand the diverse tastes and tendencies of Millennials – employing tactics such as new menu items and social media to bring this attractive segment through their doors and drive-thrus.


In Part 2 of our recently published Dining Out in America series, we highlighted Millennials’ fast food behaviors using the Placed Questions feature of our Placed Insights service. Placed Questions allows us to capture deep and practical insights from our panelists by combining location data with the ability to send survey questions to panelists who visited certain establishments.


So what did we find? Some very interesting contradictions and confirmations on Millennials’ dining habits. By taking a look at McDonald’s and their newly launched McWrap sandwich we can explore the implications of our findings.


After leveraging location information and survey answers, we found that Millennials aged 18-34 under index in their likelihood to visit McDonald’s compared to the average U.S. consumer. However, the more likely purchaser of the McWrap was in the 25-34 age range. As a result, the less likely visitors of McDonald’s were among the highest consumers of their newest menu item. It seems like a contradiction, but at the same time it is a confirmation of the early success of McDonald’s strategy for the sandwich.


According to an internal company memo, the McWrap is meant to draw in the Millennial audience by catering to their desire for variety and customization. With three different flavor options and two styles of chicken, the 6 option wrap has shown early evidence of drawing a Millennial crowd.




Going beyond menu choices alone, we also found that purchasers of the McWrap were 6% less likely to go to a gym and among the least likely to place an importance on healthy menu options when deciding where to dine. Yet they chose the menu item promoted with the hashtag #unwrapwhatsfresh, meant to convey a healthier choice for McDonald’s patrons. These findings are nothing short of interesting and provide evidence into Millennials’ complex and often contradictory behaviors.




To learn more about trends in America’s fast casual and fast food environment, download and explore our Dining Out in America Part 2: The Impact of New Menu Items, Value, and Nutrition white paper.