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Ford fuels up print brochures with mobile

Ford is betting big on mobile with a nationwide initiative that brings ten of the car brand?s dealership brochures to life through digital watermarks.

The automaker?s use of digital watermarks is meant to flaunt some of the more impressive features of the cars ? such as speed ? digitally while also aiding consumers in finding the perfect car and trim colors. Ford is working with digital agency Latcha+Associates on this campaign, with Digimarc powering the technology.

?What we wanted to do was bridge the print world and the mobile world in a way that would bring to life some stories that are told in the print world,? said David Latcha, owner and founder of Latcha+Associates, Farmington Hills, MI.

?For example, hearing what the engine sounds like,? he said. ?That was one of the big pieces of the strategy and how can we help people experience these vehicles without being behind the wheel.?

Mobile engine
To unlock the digital content, consumers need to first download the Digimarc Discover mobile application, which is available for free download in Apple?s App Store and Google Play.

Each of the ten car brands has a different strategy with its dealership catalogs that is aimed at mixing the wow factor of Ford?s cars with a rationale presentation of the vehicles.

The version of the brochure for Ford?s Mustang brand, for example, leverages the first watermark to show a 20-second video of the sports car blowing smoke.

Other watermarks throughout the brochure give consumers a closer look at the car?s features. One watermark puts consumers in the driver?s seat of the car to get a better perspective on what the dashboard looks like.

A mobile call-to-action towards the back of the brochure shows consumers the different colors that the Mustang is available in. The content can also be shared via Facebook, Twitter and email.

There are 12 calls-to-action in the brochure for the 2014 Mustang.

To activate the mobile component, consumers hover their mobile device about six inches above a print page with the Digimarc app open.

Nationwide rollout
The ten Ford vehicles that will get the mobile treatment in 2014 brochures are Mustang, Flex, Fiesta, Focus, Fusion, Escape, Edge, Explorer, F-150 and the Transit Connect van.

Roughly 1.5 - 1.6 million print brochures will be distributed to Ford dealerships.

To promote the initiative, packs of the brochures contain a sheet that details the program for dealers.

Additionally, dealers are encouraged to download the Digimarc app to show potential customers how the technology works.

Internal communications and press are also being used to spread the word about the mobile initiative.

Early results from the campaign show that consumers are spending substantial amounts of time with the content.

The brochures have been in some markets for three months, with the average iPad user spending 14 minutes with the Mustang brochure, per Mr. Latcha.

IPhone users spend an average of six to seven minutes with scanning the print content.

QR codes used to dominate print for marketers, but other subtler technologies such as augmented reality and digital watermarks are also growing on brands that are looking for new ways to tie mobile and digital efforts together.

?A QR code is not a graphically-pleasing thing while the embedded technology [in digital watermarks] is a wow factor for consumers,? Mr. Latcha said.

?It is an innovative technology that speaks to what Ford is trying to portray themselves in as being an innovative company,? he said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York