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Augmented reality drives 10pc of print magazine mobile activations: report

The use of mobile devices to engage with print content and ads in magazines continues to grow, with augmented reality comprising almost 10 percent of all mobile activation points last year, according to a new report from Nellymoser.

One of the big trends to emerge last year was the increasing popularity of mobile programs that spanned an entire issue. Additionally, magazine branded scanning apps are gaining, particularly those leveraging augmented reality, image recognition and invisible watermarking technology.

?Overall, this idea of mobile-activated media ? in this case print ? is certainly on the increase,? said John Puterbaugh, executive vice President and chief Digital officer Nellymoser, Arlington, MA. ?We are seeing around 10 percent of all ads have some type of mobile activation in the top 100 magazines.

?Even more importantly there is this emergence of page-based scanning where people are scanning the entire image and with image recognition and augmented reality and watermarks, people are able to interact with any given page through their phone,? he said.

?One of the big takeaways from the report is that image-based scanning came on in a big way in 2012."

QR codes still important
Image-based activations, driven by either invisible watermarks or image recognition, represented just under 20 percent of all activations.

Overall, mobile activations used in magazine?s editorial and advertising content continues to grow. The number of mobile experiences grew 150 percent last year from 1,472 activations in the first quarter of last year to 2,252 in the fourth quarter.

For the year, the number of mobile activations totaled 8,448 activations.

The rapid growth of QR code-driven activations was the big story in 2011 and they still make up a significant portion of overall activations.

?We scanned and looked through 100,000 pages and QR codes are still about 68 percent of those activations,? Mr. Puterbaugh said.

?Since the overall use of mobile activation is rising, you are not seeing a decline in the QR codes you are just seeing more prevalent and diverse types of activations,? he said.

AR good for branding
QR codes are best used for deals or to reveal a surprise element, per Mr. Puterbaugh.

However, because brand marketers do not like the way QR codes look, they are often buried in the lower corner of a page, which can bring down results.

The challenge with image recognition and augmented reality is that readers do not always know a page has a mobile activation.

?QR codes are still good because it is a direct response vehicle,? Mr. Puterbaugh said.

?Image recognition is a much better branding approach for magazines,? he said.

?If the editorial team takes the time to explain to readers that all of the pages are interactive and can be scanned, you can train the reader over time and we will get to the point where readers will just know that any page in the magazine when looked at through their phone can offer enhanced content, videos, flipbooks or coupons.?

Smartphone engagement
September ? which typically sees magazine publishers put out special issues ? saw the highest per-month mobile activations at 1,312.

Magazine-specific scanning apps, such as those published by Lucky, Seventeen, GQ, Teen Vogue, Brides, Popular Science, and Maxim, were released by 12 percent of the Top 100 magazines last year.

The number of mobile activations in magazines is expected to continue to grow this year.

?Tablets are emerging as the vehicle for displaying alternative, enhanced content and the phone is becoming the vehicle for magazine or the brand to allow the readers to engage with their print, at their events or their in-store brand advertiser experiences,? Mr. Puterbaugh said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York