Upgrading Traditional Advertising Vehicles

My last post touched upon how Social has Changed Advertising Forever.  It truly is a huge shift for brand advertisers to even think about being able to connect directly with real people.  For them, it’s been all about creating this brand image, planting that brand image into people’s minds through broad-reaching, traditional media forms like TV, newspaper, radio, and magazines.  But those are all one-way; brands can send you a message, but you couldn’t respond directly to that message (at least easily).  It’s been that way for generations – literally.  This shift to direct connection is similar, but not exactly the same as another form of marketing called Direct Response (DR) marketing, a strategy that uses tactics to get you, the potential customer, to respond or take action to buy something, or get more information (called a lead) from a brand.  Before, the two parts – image advertising and DR – were opposites, and neither side liked the other very much.  But social has changed all that.  Brands realize that DR marketers understand tactics that result in actions and data points, and DR marketers understand that brand image is a key aspect in any direct communication with a potential customer.  Strange bedfellows indeed.  I didn’t think I would live to see the day.  But never happier to be wrong.

So how does a brand speak directly to consumers today through traditional media?  By far, the bulk of the advertising is spent on good old fashioned TV, followed by online advertising, then print, as reported recently by eMarketer here.  Other traditional mediums like billboards and radio are relatively small in comparison.  Online advertising, generally the domain of DR folks because of the very action-focused creative, combined with the tons of data that comes from the online world, has been steadily growing and will continue to grow.

Now that brands have been in the online world for a while, they are starting to expect that very same action-oriented, data-oriented online type of results from the traditional or offline world.  Understandable.  Today, television has Direct Response TV (DRTV).  Been around for a while and becoming more costly as TV audiences become even more fragmented and harder to reach.

And what about magazines?  We know that, unlike TV, magazine readers are focused on their magazines.  Brands love magazines because:

  1. magazine readers are a self-selected group of people with specific interests:  fashion, cooking, decorating, crafts, golf, fishing, babies, teens, whatever.  You name it, there’s a magazine for it.  Highly targeted audiences, a good thing in the media world.
  2. readers are very focused when reading their magazines, especially women.  We love magazines and today, it becomes that “me” time.  So brands know that they have a higher likelihood of you spending time with their ads if they place them in specific magazines.
  3. there’s a connection with the printed page that tech-focused folks discount because print is just not a part of their vocabulary.  A je ne sais quois experience, be it tactial, emotional, a luxury, a connection – je ne sais quois – that has yet to be replaced by the digital world.

So how does a brand advertiser create that direct connection with magazine readers?  Previously, brands have tried adding phone numbers and URLs to get people to respond directly to that ad.  Didn’t really work though.  When you’re curled up with your favorite magazine, relaxing, the last thing you want to do is get up and speak to a sales person, or go online to search for that whatever, or search through confusing websites.  It’s very, very frustrating when brands – and editors – give you a generic home page URL.  Ever go online to try and find a particular dress or necklace that’s on the model, or being featured on a fashion page?  Impossible.  And ridiculous.

So what’s a good brand marketer to do?  You try new things, of course.  The latest new thing, which is actually been around for decades, are Quick Response or QR codes.  Those black and white squares of dots, or brightly colored triangles called Tags, or circles with an icon in the middle called SnapTags, or a dozen of other variations of that theme.  But as a magazine reader, I can’t stand that there are so many different types of QR codes all within the same magazine.  I am not going to download and open a half-dozen new apps.  Assuming I could get a response at all in the first place, once I do try it once, the information becomes boring – been there, done that.  Once I see a video once, I’m not likely to want to see it again.

The way QR codes work is you take a picture of a marker using an app on your smartphone; that will open your mobile browser and take you to a specific webpage.  Being a webpage means it could literally be anything – an ecommerce link (very helpful), or product information, or a coupon, or a video, or an article, or a restaurant menu, or anything.  But the point being that it can only be just one of those things.  What if I wanted to see all those items?  Do I have to take pictures of a dozen codes?  As a luxury brand advertiser myself, I can tell you that there is no way that I want to put even one code on my ad, so if I’m testing codes, you’d see one tiny one discretely tucked in a corner somewhere.  But that’s it.  I’d use that one code begrudgingly, so a lot of information from my ad just isn’t going to happen.  So what’s a loyal reader to do?

This loyal reader did something about that.  I started a company that created a mobile app that uses even better technology than QR codes.  We hooked up that technology so that I could just take a picture on an entire magazine page, and on my smartphone screen, I could see a bunch of images with magazine-approved links that give me the ability to check out every item on that page.  All with just one capture of the page itself, instead of trying to focus on a tiny QR code.  The app is called Eye Capture, and it just launched recently on the iTunes store.  We’re very excited and would love your feedback.  Read more about Eye Capture on our website, www.EyeCapture.net, download our app from iTunes, and try it out by taking pictures of the sample pages we have on our website.  You can download and print out a pdf (best test) or try using the app on the images on your computer screen.  Computer screens vary greatly (as do printers, but less so) which could effect the caliber of the picture.  But please do try it and let us know how you liked it, and if there are magazines out there that you’d like to see Eye Capturized!

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