Of late, there has been a spate of
print media ads that encourage readers to learn more about the
advertised product by immediately serving up an online experience
– so called “augmented reality” – on their mobile phones. Nokia
phone and Godrej
Interio“green” office furniture are two recent ads of
convergence between the print and online media is enabled through
QR (Quick Response) Code or another similar type of 2D barcode
printed on the ad. The reader of the ad first sends an SMS to a
prescribed shortcode number (ex: 56263), then visits the mobile
website mentioned in the response via GPRS, and finally downloads
a barcode reader application to their mobile phone. After
installing the application, the reader clicks the QR Code using
their mobile phone camera, and automatically lands on a website
that provides the augmented reality experience.
This is a great example of blending
high-tech with conventional print media advertising and has the
potential to improve stickiness and foster deeper consumer
engagement with the advertised brand / product.
At the same time, marketers and
advertising agencies need to be mindful of whether the technology
they’re using really boosts the brand image and expands the market
for the advertised product, or has the exactly opposite effect.
With the Nokia N8 ad, my SMS to the
given shortcode never elicited a response even after several days.
As a result, I wasn’t able to view the online content. With my
background in technology, I guess the failure must have been the
result of heavy traffic or some other technical glitch. However,
my takeaway as a potential buyer was, the Nokia N8 ad didn’t work,
maybe the product won’t either.
In the Godrej Interio example, I
did get a response to my SMS. When I visited the resulting website
to download the QR Code Reader, I was informed that my model of
Nokia mobile phone didn’t support the reader software. My first
reaction? This is an ad for furniture, which is hardly a high-tech
product. Why then does an ad for such an item preclude deeper
engagement – and forsake a potential sale – by relying on an
exclusionist technology that calls for an unnecessarily advanced
model of mobile phone?
In the final analysis, I might buy
a Nokia N8 or Godrej Interio furniture despite these ads, which
begs the basic question: Why bother with such ads at all?