AR could give struggling print media a shot in the arm

As newspapers and magazines come under increasing pressure from digital competition, so they must look to digital innovations such as augmented reality to rejuvenate their business models. So says Diane Charton, managing director of Red & Yellow, in South Africa.

Cross-posted from Media Update

Charton says that struggling publishers could make their print products more engaging and exciting for readers by weaving them together with their digital experiences.

Augmented reality, for example, could help them to enrich their print materials with interactive content. It could also enable them to offer new advertising options to their clients – ones that are more immersive and tangible than static print ads.

Augmented reality is a technology that enhances the real-world with a digital overlay, usually viewed by using an app on your smartphone or tablet computer. Through the camera and sensors in your mobile device, this technology adds layers of digital information – videos, photos, sounds – directly on top of real-world items.

For example, a travel feature in a magazine could layer an interactive map of the highlights of the city it explores in the printed copy and photos. Or a print ad for an LCD television could allow you to buy the product straight from your phone when you interact with it using a smartphone app.

Says Charton: “Augmented reality is not a new technology. It has been around for a few years and is a natural evolution of the Quick Response Codes that many publications and brands have used with varying levels of success for a while. But the big change we have seen in the market is that the technology has become cheaper and easier to use.”

“What’s more, there are now enough camera-equipped smartphones in the market to make it attractive for advertisers and publishers to invest in creating high-quality augmented reality content,” adds Charton. “We are already seeing South African publishers and advertisers embrace augmented reality.”

Clover and Caxton Magazines, for example, are collaborating on an interactive print campaign across four magazine titles spanning four months.

The objective of the campaign is to create awareness of Clover’s Little Big Cook Off Competition, a 13-week TV series.

Readers can also enter a competition right there to win Clover prizes. And as a bonus, readers can send the featured recipe straight to their phones.

Concludes Charton: “These sort of executions are a way for print publications to add value for readers and advertisers alike. With today’s media audience wandering between the second screen (the mobile device), PCs, print and TV, this is just the kind of integrated thinking that can help print publications to become more relevant to digital-savvy readers and for brands to improve return on investment from their ads.”

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