Sunday, October 18, 2009

Wired Magazine upgrades its advertising strategy with Kooaba

The November issue of Wired Magazine came in the mail yesterday. It's always a pleasure to read, incredible layout, typography, graphic design, and excellent features on news, technology and culture. If you've only experienced Wired on the web, it's certainly worth stopping by the newsstand and grabbing a copy.

As print publications continue to struggle to attract advertisers and raise enough revenue to stay alive, it is high time for magazines to rethink their strategy for ads and how to keep users interested. I have always appreciated Wired's candid disclosure of their decline in sales, and of the innovations they're introducing to hopefully keep the print version of the publication financially feasible.

This month, on page 17, "An Announcement from the Publisher" introduces the next evolution in Wired's strategy to keep print advertising relevant:

Each month, the pages of WIRED are jam-packed with what's new and innovative in the world — which is why we jumped at the chance to give our readers a taste of the future of advertising through Kooaba...Their app, which is available for iPhone and Android, lets you unlock digital extras by snapping a picture of select ads in this issue.

That's right; you take a picture of the ads in the magazine. The Kooaba application connects to the server, matches the photo to the images in its online database, and provides you with a list of options specific to that ad. As far as I can tell, every ad in the magazine are Kooaba-enabled. Unfortunately, most reveal nothing more than a link to the company's website, or a link to tweet or digg the item, but I think we can expect more interesting features in future issues.

I had never heard Kooaba before reading this, but they are a Swiss company that specializes in photo-recognition technology. Here is their video:

I'm really excited about this. I have no idea what kind of success it will have in this print advertising application, as Wired is test driving, but the idea couldn't make more sense: give readers an incentive to spend more time with the ads and have access to special deals only available through the ads in the magazine. If Wired works hard to get the word out, this could have huge potential. The biggest problem I can forsee is that if print is eventually replaced by digital readers, these devices will most likely have built in web-browsers to skip the photo step.

For me, I love the potential this technology has for the real-world (as opposed to online) shopping experience. I still buy physical music media, both CD's and vinyl's. Say I'm at a my favorite record store, Princeton Record Exchange in Princeton, NJ. I can browse the stacks, and when I come across something interesting, I can snap a photo, get a link to reviews and listen to song samples. I can test drive the music, and if it hits me the right way, I'll buy.

As the video says, Kooaba recognizes books and movie posters as well. In sum, Kooaba makes it easy for consumers the chance to make educated purchase decisions by simply snapping a photo. Sure, you could do this before with mobile search engines, but this is infinitely easier.

Let us know what you think if you've tried it.


NYTimes: For Wired, a Revival Lacks Ads

Chris Anderson, Wired's Editor in Chief, being given a hard time on Colbert:
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