August 23rd, 2011
A Magazine Bets That Readers Play Tag
The New York Times
IS a cellphone the key to a Glamour reader’s heart?
The Condé Nast magazine is hoping that readers will use their cellphones to connect to additional digital content through mobile codes. For example, readers intrigued by the pop star Rihanna — and who want to know more — can use their phones to interact with a Facebook logo on the September cover issue and access a video of the singer answering questions about her life. Inside the issue, they can point their phones at more logos to learn about discounts, giveaways and other offers from the magazine and advertisers.
Readers can also immediately “like” the magazine or “like” an advertiser’s page and have deals delivered to their mobile phones.
“Our theme is social networking across the board,” said Jenny Bowman, Glamour’s creative services director. “Social is so huge that we wanted to take it to the next step and make it seamless for our audience.”
Glamour’s effort is part of a push by beauty and fashion magazines, which have long relied on lush advertisements and spritely content to keep audiences faithful, to assure that digital-era readers come back for more. Many women’s magazines, particularly at Condé Nast, struggled to capitalize on their readership when they began migrating content to the Web.
Other publications have experimented with a variety of quick response bar codes to interact with readers, although Glamour said its Facebook-enabled issue, which uses Social SnapTags from SpyderLynk, a Denver provider of mobile marketing technology, was the first of its kind. Allure, another Condé Nast magazine, published a “Free Stuff” issue in August with Microsoft Tags, another form of mobile code, that readers could use to get giveaways. The issue drew some 428,000 interactions last year, and 400,000 so far this year, said Marie Jones, a magazine spokeswoman.
Entertainment Weekly, a Time Inc. publication, attracted 240,000 interactions, also using Microsoft Tags, for its three most recent movie preview issues, said Fran Hauser, president for digital at the company’s lifestyle brands.
Use of mobile codes has soared this year, rising more than four times from January to June, according to a new survey of 100 magazines on newsstands. The study, by Nellymoser Inc., a mobile engagement company in Arlington, Mass., found that 373 codes appeared in the magazines surveyed in June, up from 88 in January.
Such codes are particularly popular among magazines focusing on fashion, home, family and homemaking, according to the study authored by Roger Matus, a Nellymoser executive vice president, and Ann Carver, an analyst.
“Social media was a very small percentage of action code use six months ago,” the authors found, “but now scanning to share via Facebook, Twitter and/or e-mail are included in 18 percent of all campaigns.”
For its September issue, Glamour used Social SnapTags, which display Facebook or Twitter logos inside a code ring. IPhone (and soon Android) users can download an app that lets them simply hover their phones over the tag to open content. Camera phone users need to snap a picture of the tag and send it.
In the first week after the Glamour issue hit the stands on Aug. 9, there have been 100,000 interactions, and 25,000 of those occurred in the first 24 hours, said Ms. Bowman, of Glamour. So far, fans of Glamour’s Facebook site have risen nearly 18 percent, to 385,500, she said.
“The tags drive consumer participation,” said Nicole Skogg , founder and chief executive of SpyderLynk, which created the SnapTags. “There’s a ripple effect in interest when the users can move seamlessly to a page.”
Glamour partnered with Rihanna, who has nearly 44 million fans listed on her Facebook page, for the September issue, the magazine’s biggest of the year. The 402-page magazine has a feature story on her, with a SnapTag to open her video chat. Glamour, which created and executed the Facebook-enabled campaign in-house, worked with 25 advertisers to participate in offers. Lancôme, for example, is offering a chance to win a year’s supply of eye makeup for participating readers. Gap clothing store is marketing a 40 percent discount on an item. Other marketers are offering incentives like coupons, free trips, gift cards and free samples.
Participating brands like Zappos, Nivea, Skinny Cow, Dr. Scholl’s and Tresemmé also can add to their fan base when a mobile user hits the Facebook “like” button for the brand, said Ms. Skogg.
Also, Glamour readers who interact with a tag designed to look like a pink bow-tied present can immediately access deals from Glamour, including contests and freebies. They can also follow their favorite magazine editors by snapping the Twitter tag.
Despite industry interest in mobile action codes, a new study of some 349,000 magazine readers found that only 4 percent took a picture of a code that they saw in magazines. The numbers are from Starch Advertising Research, a unit of GfK MRI, and cover the first six months of 2011.
Tags have been slow to steadily catch on with consumers, in part, said Ms. Hauser, at Time, because “they don’t always add value.
“A lot of publishers are using such codes, but they can’t be added frivolously for the cool factor. The question is where does it make a better experience for the user.”