Tag Archives | Digital

Let Me Touch It: A Recipe For Successful Magazine Ads In A Digital World

Sometimes, I wonder if advertisers are even trying.

Digital magazines have only existed for a few years, but I don’t think I’m asking too much when I say that if you’re going to advertise in one, you should at least be able to utilize the most basic functionality that this platform provides to help you tell your story.

I’m reminded of how poorly most advertisers have adapted to digital magazines as a medium every time I see this ad from Kohler:

Kohler Flipside

The ad is for the Flipside, a four-sided faucet with ‘Flipstream Technology’ that gives you four unique spray patterns depending on how you flip the faucet head.

Seems like a pretty interesting product, right?

Since this was a digital ad in a digital magazine, I immediately tried to grab the faucet head and ‘flip’ it to see the other three spray patterns. The result of my flipping was… nothing. The ad did absolutely nothing, and had no response to my touch input.

Ok, I thought, there are four spray patterns, and the iPad that I’m holding has four sides, so maybe all is not lost. Maybe it was too difficult to program the ad so that the faucet head rotated with my finger, but maybe it’ll show off each of the four spray patterns as I rotate the device. So I turned my iPad 90 degrees, and low and behold, the ad changed!

Kohler Flipside Digital Magazine Ad

Perfect, I though. Now we’re getting somewhere! I’ll just give it another rotation and…

Kohler Flipside

Crap. There are four ways to hold the device, and four possible spray patterns, but no matter what you do, you can only view two of those four patterns.

Even discovering the second spray pattern is left to chance, since the ad gives no indication that you should rotate it to see more images. I poked and swiped and tapped at the screen, but nothing unlocked the other two images. It will recognize portrait mode, and show one pattern, and it will recognize landscape mode, and show another pattern, but spray patterns three and four are apparently left to the imagination.

(Maybe the other two spray patterns just aren’t that good, and Kohler doesn’t show them on purpose?)

The end result is that I’ve gone from an interested consumer that’s willing to touch and play with the product, to a frustrated consumer that’s put off by the experience, and put off by a brand that didn’t take the time to create an ad that would show off its product’s main feature in an intuitive and engaging way.

To make matters worse, I would have been better served by a static ad that was just divided in fourths and showed four images of the four spray patterns. Or a carousel that scanned through static images on a timed rotation. Or hell, even a YouTube embed that showed a :15 demo of the faucet turning from spray pattern to spray pattern would have been more informative than what Kohler came up with.

It should also be noted, I wasn’t viewing this ad in the latest issue of US Weekly. This ad appeared in an issue of Wired, a magazine that caters to the early adopter crowd. And I have to imagine that Kohler bought the ad in Wired because they felt that the Flipside faucet would appeal to this digital, tech savvy audience.

And by all accounts, it should. It certainly looks the part. And I’m sure the different spray patterns are useful for different situations, and nicely integrated into a new and innovative product. But you’d never know by just looking at the ad, since you’re only able to poke at a static image of two spray patterns, and can’t find out more information without spending time searching online. (Which I’m not likely to do, given the fact that I’m not currently in the market for a new faucet. However, like most people, I’m always open to be wow’ed by something that I didn’t even know I needed, and could have found myself in the market for a new faucet if this ad had showed me all the things that I was missing with my current faucet in a quick and easy way.)

So what should advertisers keep in mind when designing a successful ad for a digital magazine?

  1. If your audience is in an environment where they want to touch and play with things, make sure your ad can be touched and played with.
  2. If your ad needs to be rotated or scrolled or tapped or engaged with in any way, make sure to highlight that fact in an obvious way. Don’t leave it up to chance.
  3. Don’t hide important information behind confusing and non-intuitive interactions.
  4. There are many ways to tell the same story, and sometimes, simpler is better. Don’t let novelty get in the way.
  5. Digital magazines are the future. If you’re not ready to produce ads for them, then you better get ready soon.

Best practices for digital magazine ads are hard to come by, since the medium is still so new. With that said, the opportunity should not be ignored, since this new format gives advertisers a whole new set of tools to tell stories in immersive and engaging ways.

Shazam Could Replace The QR Code

QR Code Death

Admit it: The QR Code is never going to catch on with mainstream users. (Hell, it’s barely getting used by advertisers, and we’ll try anything once.) Asking people to download and use a 3rd party app so they can scan a code to get mysterious content related to an ad is a bit much, and until Apple decides to include a QR code scanning app with every iPhone, they’re just not going to get used by more than a fringe minority of the mobile audience.

That said, the reason advertisers want QR codes to take off is clear: We live in an increasingly mobile world, and with campaigns spreading across multiple mediums, there needs to be an easy way to connect analog content with digital content so we can create a more interactive and immersive experience.

While NFC holds promise as a potential solution, it requires broad adoption by phone manufacturers, and there’s little indication we’ll see that any time soon.

So is it time to face the facts and admit that it will never be easy to connect ads to a mobile experience?

Not exactly.

Shazam

Enter, Shazam.

Shazam debuted as an app that recognizes the audio from music and reports back on what song is currently playing. The technology has since been repurposed by companies like Old Navy, General Mills and News Corp. to recognize commercials, allowing viewers to tag the audio of a spot and receive additional content from the brand.

If you haven’t experienced one of these enhanced ads, check out this Pillsbury Crescents commercial which returns recipes to users who Shazam the ad when prompted:

While this works well in a controlled environment like the living room, there’s no reason the same technology can’t be used in other places to connect ads to a mobile device.

See where I’m going with this?

Calvin Klein recently teamed up with Shazam to create in-store sound installations, and proved that the process can be used for more than just tagging TV.

The interaction is simple: When a customer is near the branded podium, they open the Shazam app and scan the song that’s playing through the speaker. In return, they receive exclusive content like in-store promotions, a complimentary download of an exclusive song, and a Calvin Klein holiday wallpaper for their mobile device.

According to David Jones, VP of Marketing at Shazam:

Calvin Klein is an iconic fashion brand known across the globe, and Shazam is incredibly excited to work with them on their new holiday campaign and in-store sound installations. Shazam’s partnership with Calvin Klein marks the first in-store-only program utilizing Shazam, and demonstrates how retailers can take advantage of Shazam’s discovery service to help build an enriching, interactive experience with shoppers this holiday season.

While I like what this campaign represents, I think it’s just a small step in the direction of what could be a major competitor to QR codes and NFC.

Calvin Klein Shazam

Imagine out of home campaigns that use small speakers to play audio that’s beyond the reach of human hearing, but can be picked up by the phone to connect the ad with a mobile experience. The audio could be customized by region to offer location based ads, or the app could simply tap into the phone’s GPS capabilities for the same effect.

Now imagine an outdoor scavenger hunt that uses custom Shazam tags to ensure that users are where they say they are, and delivers rewards in exchange for seeking out the branded experience. Or how about a sweepstakes that uses the audio tag to tell the phone if the user is a winner. Or a bus stop ad that entertains with a song while also allowing the brand to quickly connect on a deeper level when users activate their Shazam app.

These are just a few examples of what’s possible with the technology, and I’m sure we’ll see others as advertisers start brainstorming, but the idea is that it’s as simple as adding a speaker to an existing ad, and letting Shazam handle the rest.

So why is Shazam different from what we’re asking people to do to interact with QR codes?

While the process is similar, the key to Shazam’s potential success is the 165 million users they have already acquired through their music tagging service. Unlike QR codes, which require apps that have no purpose but to scan QR codes, Shazam has already established value to the user, and people are familiar with the process of using Shazam to tag content for additional information. It’s a short jump from the existing behavior to the new behavior, and millions of users are already primed to make that jump.

The Shazam logo can become synonymous with additional content, and that content doesn’t limit brands to the data that can fit in a shortened and codified URL.

Since we’ve already seen big brands test out Shazam for tagging TV, and initial reports are that they’re happy with the results and looking to do more, I wouldn’t be surprised to see those same brands follow Calvin Kleins’ lead in the next few months by testing the waters of out of home tagging. Assuming both advertisers and users get value out of those initial interactions, the behavior should stick, and we will finally have a technology that millions of people can use to extend the ad experience to their mobile device.

Gum Elections Let People Vote For Your Brand

Gum Election

The Gum Election was a guerilla art project that started in New York City as a way to encourage people to vote, as well as to encourage them not to spit out their chewing gum carelessly on the already dirty streets.

Posters were printed and placed at more than 50 ‘hot spots’ throughout the city, and each encouraged passerbys to stick their gum to their least favorite candidate’s face. Results could then be counted, and each poster’s message grew stronger as the gum count grew to match.

However, the beauty of the Gum Election was not that it gave people an excuse to stick their gum to something, but rather that it gave people a voice, and let them express that voice with tools they already had at hand in a way that was easy to understand and take part in.

Gum Election Detail

Forget blind taste tests and compensated focus groups; if you want to know what people really think of your product, just put out posters with you and your main competitor on them and see where the gum lands.

Keep in mind that for this to work as an advertising program, you probably want to be pretty sure of the results beforehand, but regardless of what happens, you’re still getting your brand in front of plenty of eager eyes, and doing so in an approachable and interactive way.

In addition, this idea could easily expand online with digital vote counts, webcams of the posters, banner ads, and more. By turning the vote into a larger phenomenon, people will actively seek out the posters so that they can take part, and you’ll get additional response just from the power of social validation.

Gum Elections are definitely not the cleanest way to advertise your brand, and they’re also not the most legal, but if you’re looking for a way to show up the competition, they just might be the most fun.

The Good:

  • Interactive ads and social validation encourage participation.
  • Easy to recognize and understand.
  • Expandable into other channels.
  • Uniqueness cuts through ad filter.

The Bad:

  • Guerilla nature of the campaign makes legality questionable.
  • Restricts target demographic by location and age.
  • Risk of losing the vote.

The Future:

  • Interactive ads give customers a voice, and let them easily share that voice with others.

Gum Election