Print has long held the responsibility of disseminating information. At the Digital Imaging Association meeting on January 19, 2011 attendees participated in a special technology evening demonstrating how marketers are using print as an entry point to launch consumers into immersive online experiences.
Is it magic or the reality of technology? Both are an illusion. DIA attendees saw a Smartphone synch a printed label to an online message and watched a piece of paper launch a video game. Welcome to the future!
DIA’s guest presenter for this segment of the meeting was Petar Bozinovski, president of Crucial Interactive/SKUyou, Toronto.
Bozinovski quoted Karen J. Bannan, freelance writer for Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Forbes & PC Magazine who describes Quick Response Codes as “an emerging cell phone technology dissolving the invisible barrier between the digital and material worlds.”
Bozinovski further defined the technology for the DIA audience. Quick Response Codes (QR-Codes), he said, are designed to be read by mobile phones equipped with a built-in camera and installed QR-Code reader software. If a person takes a picture of a QR-Code with his or her mobile phone, the QR-Code reader software will open the phone’s built-in Web browser and direct the browser to load a mobile page assigned to the QR-Code. Attendees were able to see examples of QR-Code applications on the side of buildings, inside buildings, on trade show floors, on magazine covers and ads, and on wine bottles – demonstrating that uses for the application are endless.
Throughout Petar Bozinovski’s presentation, the DIA listening audience gained insight into the measurable way this bridge media tool links the physical world to the virtual world. But more importantly, examples presented demonstrated how marketers can utilize the technology to gather statistics that profile audiences. For instance, Bozinovski talked about a Pepsi initiative in the UK and Europe. Pepsi became an entertainment community, using the QR technology to drive Pepsi drinkers to the Pepsi website to get additional information about various events and activities. The statistics gathered provided the company with a deeper behavioural understanding of its sweet-spot market, enabling Pepsi to target its own advertising toward that behaviour.
In Canada, Jackson Triggs worked with SKUyou to print QR codes on all its wine bottles and ads to capture customer profile information. Because of bottling schedules, this campaign has put Jackson Triggs a full year ahead of any of their competitors.
Also in Canada, KIA Motors used different codes for different newspapers. The company was able to find out which newspaper drew best and which cars were popular in specific locations. DIA attendees were able to consider how KIA could make manufacturing and inventory decisions as well as develop highly targeted marketing campaigns based on the data gathered.
Bozinovski thinks that marketing initiatives such as this enhance print. Print is the vehicle that facilitates the ability to deliver content to an audience when they want it and when it is most relevant to them. SKUyou provides back end analytics that are deep and insightful allowing marketers to optimize offline campaigns and see how consumers engage with their brand. Measuring and optimizing the response data provides marketers with the tools to more effectively engage with their customers – and to gain more market share.
Digital Imaging Association members and guests were able to garner a depth of information about other proprietary 2D codes as well as the technical specifications that facilitate best data capture. Petar Bozinovski showed some of SKUyou’s QR-Code campaign data, scan rates and site-open rates. The stats are remarkable, highly measurable and demonstrate how follow-up action can deliver a never-before enabled ROI.
In Japan, there are 120 million active QR Codes. Canada is at a very early adoption threshold. Bozinovski advised the DIA audience to take advantage of this emerging print-anchored opportunity.
Augmented Reality, the 3D Experience
The second presenter at the DIA meeting was Mike Luis, creative director at E-Axis. Doug Picklyk, head of the Digital Imaging Association’s Technical Committee, found Luis on a box of his kid’s cereal. No, not the toy in the Crackerjack box, but through a promotional image printed on a Kellogg’s Corn Pops box. Luis was invited to share this case study experience as well as to define the AR application and its growing potential.
Just what is Augmented Reality? Luis succinctly defined it for the DIA audience. AR is where the digital world and the real world interact. Wikipedia defines it as “a term for a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input, such as sound or graphics. It is related to a more general concept called mediated reality, in which a view of reality is modified (possibly even diminished rather than augmented) by a computer. As a result, the technology functions by enhancing one’s current perception of reality. By contrast, virtual reality replaces the real-world with a simulated one.”
Luis demonstrated AR with various examples, including the Corn Pops campaign designed to engage the product’s target audience. E-Axis worked with Kelloggs’ advertising agency to create a 3D experience from a print vehicle. Promotions both online and offline prompt kids to go to a designated website. Once there, all they have to do is show their specially-designed box of Corn Pops containing a web marker to their webcam. The box of cereal comes to life in their hands. Combining movements of the cereal box with keyboard gestures, the user is able to create a fantastic display of musical beats, graphics, and well…POPS. The user can draw the box away from the camera or closer to it or turn it left and right and the box would respond by becoming an equalizer changing tempo, sound, colours and graphics. For those who do not have a webcam, E-Axis recreated the experience to play just using keyboard gestures — so that no one misses out of the fun! (Following Luis’ presentation one of the DIA attendees used his laptop to experience that fun firsthand.)
Luis advised that the technology still has some limitations – cost being one of them – but he assured the audience that 3D is coming. Some of the cost implication resides with the readers. Many of the companies that are producing the AR experience use licensed proprietary codes that can only be captured by their accompanying readers. E-Axis, said Luis, has developed open platform code that uses Flash. E-Axis’ objective is to get results through interactive engagement. 3D technology is a critical and emerging method for facilitating this engagement.
Luis further expanded on how print is tied to augmented reality. The printed image includes a marker with a specific shape, which is then captured by software to deliver the 3D experience.