Time Inc. (NYSE: TWX) is rolling out a mobile campaign for tomorrow’s Sports Ilustrated “Swimsuit Edition” aimed at connecting print readers with their smartphones through the use of 2D barcodes via Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) Tags placed by mobile tech company Nellymoser.
Although publishers have placed big bets on tablets recreating the “print experience” in terms of subscriptions, digital newsstand sales and ad revenues, that’s still a long way off. The print product is still where the money is. So it’s natural for magazines to try to get both the print and the digital sides to support each other instead of being at odds.
It’s safe to say that most of the people who would buy the print issue probably have a smartphone. And while they might not be tempted to buy the same issue twice, there are other ways of bridging the digital/print divide, especially when it comes to offering something a little extra for advertisers.
Nellymoser designs and hosts rich mobile media — videos, voting, signing up for more info/subscriptions, etc. — for smartphones that are triggered by action codes, such as Microsoft Tag and QR codes. It also includes a sharing function that lets print readers send videos via Facebook, Twitter or e-mail. And if readers still want more digital activity, the codes take them right to the app store to download the Swimsuit Mobile App. And it all works on Apple’s iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android devices.
It’s not just for print readers either. Bored or extra-observant commuters were also factored into the mobile campaign. In addition to the action codes within the magazine, Microsoft Tags linked to mobile content will be placed on phone kiosks, subway posters, and signage in New York and Las Vegas. Those out-of-home tags connect users to a swimsuit body paint video that they can share with their Facebook and also offered a “pre-order” option for the magazine issue in recent weeks.
A number of publishers have been looking at the use of these kinds of tags for some time. Mostly, mobile barcodes have been pretty successful in Japan, but have been slow to catch on in the U.S. But as smartphone penetration increases, the use of tags will certainly become more prominent — and will probably outlast the print magazines they’re being used to support.