Future content: The interrelation of print and digital media

22 Apr 2013  |  Clare Hill 
pic0306 Clare Hill

The content marketing industry is rapidly evolving with the onset of digital says Clare Hill, managing director of the CMA. From near field communications and 'slowmercials', to augmented reality and QR codes, technology is driving unique consumer engagements. So which brands have them working best?

The content marketing industry has changed dramatically over the past few years with the wide adoption of tablets and mobiles revolutionising the way consumers view branded content. Content has become truly multi-channel, now incorporating online videos and mobile applications.

Brands have responded boldly to the digital change and are finding creative ways to navigate the changing online landscape with the help of innovative technologies. Rather than digital media cannibalising print, we are seeing new ways for the traditional and digital media to work in tandem to provide a more engaging and interactive experience for consumers.

As multichannel has become a firm reality, companies have had to come up with canny solutions of getting around the changing habits of their customers when it comes to content consumption. A recent example is Volkswagen, which recognised many people skip through video advertising on catch up TV.

They created the first "slowmercial", which made sense even when users fast forwarded through the advertisement. Content agencies and publishers are encountering similar challenges as they now have to consider a much wider range of media when choosing the most effective content distribution channel.

The development of new technologies is offering a set of ways to interact with consumers whose habits have changed. The rise of mobiles and other hand-held devices have stopped being a burden for print media, but are actually a godsend whereby they can offer additional content and a far more immersive experience.

Near field communication (NFC) holds huge potential for the content marketing industry by facilitating the transfer of data and content speedily onto personal devices. This month, a number of mobile heavyweights such as Samsung and HTC have announced their latest models will include NFC technology. Devices with NFC chips allow users to tap their phone or tablet against an object to transfer data, usually via a URL.

The technology has provided content marketers with the chance to enrich the consumer experience by providing additional extras. IPC Media was the first to launch an NFC enabled issue of Marie Claire last summer.

In a partnership with Nuffield Health, the magazine contained an advertisement that allowed readers to scan with a hand-held device and receive a free two-day gym pass. This was the first step towards boosting customer engagement, but also offers huge potential for advertisers looking to invest in print titles.

The NFC technology allows content to be embedded on a page, so publications can lose the clunky-looking QR code and the overall experience for the consumer becomes far more seamless between online and offline channels.

For instance, holding a mobile across an outfit on a page of a fashion magazine could take the user to a special site which showcases that season's range of items or even a mobile application showing outfit ideas, at the click of a button.

Most importantly, NFC could enable additional content to change depending on real-time data, so the content consumed can be tailored to the weather or the reader's location, creating an even more personalised and subsequently, engaging experience.

Personalisation is key to many new technologies that publishers are looking to incorporate and makes for a far more engaging experience that goes beyond the static page.

Augmented reality is another technology that has opened doors for publishers to bridge the gap between online and offline content.

Although augmented reality has been around a while, the introduction of 4G is making the process easier and speedier for the consumer. Ikea is at the forefront of augmented reality and has incorporated the technology into its 2013 print catalogue. The catalogue offers innovative features that let consumers access films, interactive experience and photo galleries with their smartphones.

What is really exciting about Ikea's catalogue is the ability for consumers to build a personalised experience of the products and add to the content. For example, consumers can select different textiles and build decorative elements on the page. This makes for a far more interactive experience of the content provided, working in real-life elements with a virtual reality.

The content marketing industry is rapidly evolving with the onset of digital. New technologies such as NFC and augmented reality have begun to be utilised by content marketers not only to provide additional content, but to allow consumers to generate their own content.

This makes for a far more immersive and engaging experience. New technologies are creating opportunities for print media to offer entirely new experiences, which can't be matched online.

As we move further into a multi-channel world, print and digital are not separate, but have actually become mutually dependent in the pursuit to create a truly engaging experience for consumers.

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