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340. Ad Trends #1: Phone Print.

Here's the first of many such articles to come, Ad Trends #1. Basically, when we start seeing something being produced and think we'll be seeing a lot more of it, we're going to post about it. Maybe we'll celebrate it or maybe we'll bemoan it. Who knows. Recent examples (had we started this series earlier) may have covered projection mapping or tilt-shift video. So here goes. Let me know what you think.

Phone Print. Print designers are not getting much love these days, and have been left in the dust of interactive designers who get to have all the fun. But print isn't dead and some creatives have been pretty crafty in the way they are combining print with those little media centers everyone carries around in their pockets. We've been seeing a lot of executions lately asking readers to put their iPhones on top of ads to get a more complete narrative from their traditional media. Of course, those print people still need to have moving content and work with their broadcasting/digital rivals to produce these spots, but by doing so they are trying to remain relevant. (For the record, I still like a solid print idea. It's just we don't get the opportunity to make them as much.) This phone+print stuff is a trend that has been slowly building over the last two, maybe even three years.

These guys claim to be the first:

Here's an early (2009) static-only execution for Axe, whom I loathe:

VW's Test Drive from early March:

(And another print ad to play on:)

Mercedes Benz - Rearview:

It's difficult for all of these ads to seem original because the idea of combining the phone with the print is usually the most creative aspect of the concept. That's not to say that we won't see a more interesting approach over the next year or so (most likely we will), it's just going to have to really push things to get a thumbs up from me.

Phone Print Demonstration (as resume):

Ha - Print to Mobile, "The Ultimate in Digital Interaction":

One of the more interesting developments is demonstrated by the company SnapTell (part of Amazon's A9). They are a visual search company. From their site, "Our Snap.Send.Get™ image matching solution converts an image into a 100% opt-in, interactive search targeted message..." Basically when an advertiser creates an ad, it can allow a consumer to take a picture of that ad and get content (links, coupons, or whatever) sent back to them immediately. It works like a QR code, only without the ugly QR code. From the outside at least, it functions much like Google's Goggles only with a marketing bent. The major issues with this setup is the instructions you have to give someone, making any print designer go "Blech." Here's one for Maserati.

Maserati SnapTell Print:

There are other players in this field. Here's a demonstration how it works when using an Israeli-based service called XSight. Oddly enough in the last year their site has gone down, even though you can still download their iPhone app. Of course, a lot of examples seen here use the QR code to fetch video or images that complement the printed element.

My thoughts (tips and obstacles) about using Phone Print:

  1. Make the process as simple as possible. People don't want to have to download another app or go through sixteen steps to see your little video. They just don't. Make it seem effortless.
  2. The print should still function beautifully and aesthetically on its own. Most do not.
  3. Content is still king. The tough thing about this trend is that it is asking people to do more just to view an ad beyond the ad they are already viewing. That's a lot to ask even if people are interested, let alone increasingly cynical. So your content better be good. And in most cases better than the examples we have looked at above. That way, the reader will know they'll likely be rewarded or entertained the next time you ask them to 'view more.' Be it utility, entertainment, or information — it's always wise to add value to the experience.
  4. Clutter. The more advertisers do something the more likely consumers will go out of their way to  avoid the message. It will be more and more difficult to engage someone using this method. If you are an entertainment brand that fact might not be too much of an obstacle. If you are a laxative advertiser, you better bring your A-game.
  5. Don't be too proud of yourself. As you can already see, this trick has been developing for a few years now. If you are attempting to be innovative, the bar is constantly being inched higher. And you're not the first. At least until you add something new to the mix.

I leave you with one more recent example that you may have seen, produced for Reporters Without Borders (For Press Freedom.) It doesn't check all the boxes above, and it is similar to other pieces but it uses simplicity and controversial figures to good effect.

Stay tuned for more Ad Trends in the near future. Thanks for reading.


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Reader Comments (1)

This use of technology is incredible. I was absorbed by this for an entire morning and enjoyed searching around to see what else I could find. It also inspired me to create a QR code for a flyer our sales team uses. It will allow potential customers to scan and see our equipment actually working in a field. Thank you for sparking "new" ideas!
May 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCarmen King

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