Mobile Technologies : Adding More Value to Print
Suffice to say, the use of mobile technologies such as 2D barcodes, tags and Augmented Reality (AR) by consumers is, at the moment, relatively limited. Marketers, advertisers and publishers realize this, and they are also aware that, in the not too distant future, it won’t be the case. As with any technology, the early adopters invariably gain the upper hand.
Statistics (and they are extremely fluid) peg the number of cell phone plans at around 250 million and, according to Nielsen, 43 percent of all mobile subscribers use smart phones. The latter figure has grown considerably even during the last two years, and there is no evidence that smart phones have peaked in popularity.
One corporation that is betting on a continued upward swing is Cox Target Media, parent of Valpak Direct Marketing System. Valpak is renown as a direct marketer of local and national advertisements, and households around the country are quite familiar with the “Blue Envelope” chock filled with coupon specials.
During 2011, Valpak entered the world of mobile technologies with the use of QR codes and Augmented Reality to boost its already-popular printed advertisements and coupons. Since July, Valpak and its advertiser clients embarked on six national campaigns, highlighted with the use of QR codes. Among the promotions:
• In July, the Blue Envelope contained a “Rizzoli & Isles” campaign from cable network TNT. Recipients could scan the code and win a shopping spree and a trip to New York City to get a glimpse of the TV show in action.
• Also last summer, HGTV “Design Star” asked recipients to scan a code for the chance to win $5,000 for a makeover and meet the 2011 Design Star from the popular cable show.
• A Martha Stewart/Emeril Lagasse promotion was sent out last fall, where the winner could meet Martha, take home Emeril’s Kitchen Essentials and get an up-close look at “The Martha Stewart Show.”
“In general, the campaigns have met our expectations,” notes Michael Vivio, president of Cox Target Media. “Our ad partners have been very happy with it. They recognize that any gain, though it may be small due to the relative newness, is good because it brings an engaged customer who is interacting with their brand.”
Cox Is Crazy for QR Codes
Cox mailed out a staggering 225 million QR codes on envelopes and inserts. Vivio was not at liberty to reveal response rates, but did admit the percentage was relatively low. However, he feels these maiden voyage campaigns are laying the foundation for future initiatives.
“We’re achieving goals by interacting with those who know and use QR codes,” he points out. “It’s about introducing and socializing codes among our readership for the future. Part of being innovative is training the audience and continuing to stick with it. We’ve seen the rates climb, and the more people are exposed to QR codes, the faster we’ll become like Asia and countries where QR codes are a way of life.”
Vivio points out that the strength of QR codes is much the same as any other type of promotion: When offers are less targeted and there’s an ambiguous call to action, they’re not nearly as effective. The more clearer the campaign and its call to action, the more improved the response rates become.
The success of QR codes are not relegated to national campaigns sponsored by advertising heavyweights. Vivio notes double-digit growth in usage by local merchants; for example, a restaurant that sends a scanning consumer to its menu.
For now, Valpak and Cox are content with utilizing the generic, nonproprietary 2D barcode to boost recognition and establish a comfort level for consumers. He is bullish on future mobile platforms and says his firm is planning for the day that mobile overtakes desktop views.
Valpak/Cox has also embraced Augmented Reality. In 2011, Valpak coupons became available on the junaio app via geographically targeted coupons that pop up on consumers’ smart phones. This app launches the smart phone’s camera and GPS to overlay a set of 3D icons in real-time, showing the available coupons in the vicinity as the user scans the surroundings. It has a target radius of about 20 miles. The app, available on iTunes and used with Android devices, was created by AR technology giant metaio.
Vivio emphasizes that mobile technologies are viewed as an add-on to the printed coupon/advertisement. If anything, given that codes and some AR accompanies print, mobile technologies make print even more dynamic.
“Our job is not to concentrate on one distribution vehicle over another,” he says. “Our job is to get in front of more people, wherever, and they need to see our content.”
Those who view mobile technologies as a possible replacement to traditional print vehicles might find it ironic that Augmented Reality is being used to spice up advertisements that promote Drupa 2012. Ads appearing in roughly 500 trade publications across the globe include the letters “AR” in the top right-hand corner.
When the image is viewed with a smart phone, tablet or PC/latop camera equipped with junaio software, a 3D animation triggers, connecting the user to the Drupa Website through the interactive button.
“This logical linking of print, Internet and mobile systems is the central theme of our whole marketing campaign for Drupa 2012 and is a continuous thread throughout all elements,” notes Petra Köhler, manager of marketing communication at Messe Düsseldorf. “In its marketing campaigns, Drupa has always picked up on the latest print communication trends, adapted them to the specific needs of the world’s leading trade fair and implemented them accordingly.”
Read the Recipe, Watch the Video
Meredith Corp. is one of many publishers to spread 2D barcode technology across its network of publications, from Better Homes and Gardens to Family Circle and Ladies’ Home Journal. Meredith selected Microsoft Tag as its 2D barcode standard across its platform. The technology allows readers to watch how-to recipe videos, link to holiday decorations and gift ideas, and create special events and experiences for their families.
“We chose the Microsoft Tag platform as it offers the innovation, scale and product features to create a dynamic experience for readers across our published content,” says Liz Schimel, executive vice president and chief digital officer for Meredith.
When it comes to daring to be different, Ben & Jerry’s owes apologies to no major corporation. The hippie spirit can be seen in its colorful packaging and gonzo-ish monikered ice cream flavors, including the recently-released Schweddy Balls (actually inspired by the Saturday Night Live skit) that drew the ire of family values groups. So, when it came time to develop its AR campaign, it’s not surprising that Ben & Jerry’s strayed from the pack.
In 2010, the ice cream maven unveiled its “Moo Vision,” which encouraged—and rewarded—consumers who scanned the lids from one of four flavors and unlocked its 3D experience. The idea was for a campaign underscoring that many of its ingredients emanate from small, family farms.
By downloading Ben & Jerry’s official iPhone app (and unleashing the power of Moo Vision), users can view different virtual dioramas of small, family farms that provide the ingredients. The 3D world can be viewed at different vantage points simply by moving the phone around the lid. Consumers who unlocked all four of the flavors were rewarded with Ben & Jerry’s iPhone background image wallpaper.
Ben & Jerry’s made it all happen with the help of its marketing agency, Edelman, and tech development specialist Circ.us, which tapped metaio’s Unifeye Mobile SDK and its natural feature tracking on the iPhone. The campaign took just two months to develop, despite evolving from a print campaign to the Web, then finally settling on mobile.
While Augmented Reality hasn’t been around long enough to establish norms, the Ben & Jerry’s campaign provided a deviation from the general practice of consumer product ARs that show the users where the product can be purchased.
Building blocks manufacturer Lego, which has been stoking the imaginations of children for more than 75 years, has leveraged AR while strengthening its point-of-purchase displays. Its Digital Box, located in all Lego brand retail stores, allows consumers to see 3D images of what is inside the box. When users simply hold the building blocks set in front of the Digital Box’s camera, it produces superimposed 3D images on top of the set.
Feeding the Friendly Dragon
While not a mobile technology, Lego recently rolled out some AR-related magic that is designed to draw children (and their bankrolled parents) into Lego brand retail stores. When standing in front of an interactive shop window that uses a motion-sensing camera, children are transformed into a Lego mini-figure. The technology, rolled out last November at Lego’s Chicago retail shop, enables the kids to interact with and feed Dragon Brickley virtual apples.
An Intel Core i7 processor converts the child’s motions into a Lego mini-figure that is projected onto a thin film screen applied to the back of the window. Users control the mini-figure’s actions by moving their arms and legs, much like motion-sensitive controls used in console games.
As these examples suggest, mobile technologies are, if anything, drawing more attention to the value of print. Like a new bottle of hot sauce for your steak, it puts a different spin on an old, but treasured, flavor. PI