Bridging the Print and Digital Ad Divide

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ADOTAS — Yes, I am a self-proclaimed HGTV addict. There is something charming about Hillary from the show “Love It or List It” that keeps me tuned into the network for several hours, waiting for the climatic reveal at the end while David looks on disapprovingly. It also doesn’t help that my friend Andromeda does the voice-overs for the other HGTV show “House Hunters” and “House Hunters International.” Her sweet familiar voice keeps me engaged, even though I’m certainly not a guy that wields tools on a daily basis.


Print is inherently a flat medium but this has not thwarted magazine publishers from trying to add a little dimension to their pages. With a solid television viewing audience, HGTV has shifted focus towards new endeavors, launching its print publication, “HGTV Magazine.” And with the help of image watermarking company Digimarc, the publication aims to bridge the gap between print advertisements and online experiences. The two companies recently announced a collaboration that allows readers to buy, tweet and pin deals and offers from people’s mobile devices in a nine-page November feature sponsored by FIAT.

“The High/Low List’ is one of the magazine’s most popular features each month,” said Sara Peterson, editor-in-chief of “HGTV Magazine”, in a statement. “Our readers love the great deals we find, and Digimarc Share will make it even easier for readers to shop for those must-have products and share them with friends via social media.”

Each item in November’s “The High/Low List” includes an invisible watermark, denoted by a small smartphone icon. HGTV Magazine readers simply need to launch the free Digimarc Discover mobile app and scan the product image to be instantly connected to a FIAT brand-sponsored landing page which streamlines purchasing and sharing opportunities. Readers can choose to buy and/or share their special find with others on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.


Less invasive and unsightly as of QR codes, Digimarc’s technology allows publishers and companies to embed unique digital watermarks in an image, icon, text block or audio file, attached to a URL. When scanned by a smartphone, it take a user directly to a website or social multimedia online.

“Publishers can provide a better overall experience to their readers by bridging the print and digital worlds,” said Matthew Szerencse, market development manager of Digimarc. “We know readers are engaging with magazine brands outside of the printed page. Using Digimarc’s patented digital watermarking technology is an easy, reliable and secure way for publishers to provide digital experiences and interactive content to readers whenever they interact with the magazine’s printed media.”

eMarketer predicts m-commerce sales on tablets will account for 9.4 percent of all retail ecommerce sales in 2013 and 16.9 percent of the total by 2016. Smartphones are projected to contribute 5.3 percent of retail ecommerce sales in 2013. Dozens of magazines have embraced this trend, introducing their collective 38 million readers to digital watermarks.

Szerencse believes that print readers should be able to see and hear the same online and exclusive content that’s available in the tablet.  “Over time, I think more readers will expect to use their mobile devices and tablets for an enhanced, interactive experience from print,” he said.

While the execution has evolved, this trend is not new. For over a decade, publishers have been experimenting with codes and icons that could direct readers to online content. Back in 2000 publishers like Forbes and Wired elicited help from a company called Digital:Convergence introduced a technology called :CueCat that used barcodes to bridge the print and digital divide. At that time, smartphones were not yet so prevalent, so publishers had to send readers a hand-held scanner and CR-ROM to even read the codes. It’s no wonder it didn’t take off.

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