Making Print More Interactive: Q&A with Matthew Szerencse of Digimarc

Written on
Nov 18, 2013 
Richard L. Tso  |

ADOTAS – Digimarc is known for revolutionizing the design and photography industry by providing a way for creative professionals to embed copyrights and watermarks into digital images. Recently, the company launched Digimarc Share, a technology that lets content creators embed content into images that consumers can scan with their smartphones to link to websites and online content, much like QR codes.

Adotas spoke with Matthew Szerencse (pictured), market development manager of Digimarc, to learn more.

Q: Why is a platform like Digimarc Share needed in today’s industry?

A: Digimarc Share allows brands to take advantage of their online social presence in print. With Digimarc Share, readers can buy and share items in print as easily as they can online. Digimarc provides publishers with detailed metrics that show how many times an article or product was shared on each social network.  Additionally, Digimarc Share increases ROI, since each landing page can be sponsored and include buying links for products.

The reader also benefits because they can buy and share products without leaving the magazine. Consumers can quickly access related online content with a simple scan of the article or product of interest.  It’s a seamless process that provides a better experience for the reader because they no longer have to search for an article or product they want to buy or share. Digimarc Share also keeps the reader within the printed magazine and helps eliminate distractions while searching online for an article or product.

Q: Talk about bridging the print and digital worlds. How can publishers capitalize on this trend?

A: Publishers can provide a better overall experience to their readers by bridging the print and digital worlds.  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.   A print reader 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.

Q: What is the future of print and where is it heading?

A: I think print will continue to become more interactive.  If an advertiser is promoting an upcoming movie in a print ad, as a consumer, I want the opportunity to watch the trailer.  In the same vein, with today’s technology, why would someone write an album review in print without connecting to audio? I should be able to use my mobile device and instantly connect to those URLs without leaving the magazine.

Print is trusted, tangible and portable.  It’s not going away, but publishers need to embrace technologies like digital watermarking that allow for more informative and enjoyable reading experiences.  With today’s technology allowing for instant access, the printed piece should always be dynamic.

Q: Talk about integrated ad campaigns and what makes them unique.

A: Digimarc Discover is the only platform that can be used for a brand’s entire integrated ad campaign.  Brands can embed a digital watermark into any type of media (print, audio, video and packaging), and use the Digimarc Discover platform to engage with consumers at every touch point throughout the shopper’s journey.  Using digital watermarks, a brand can embed a unique watermark in every print ad.  This allows brands to get detailed metrics on exactly how the ad is performing in a magazine, and not just relying on the magazine’s readership.  Other technologies, like image recognition, won’t be able to provide unique experiences or metrics for the same print ads.  Additionally, Digimarc allows the brand to integrate digital watermarking into their existing or new mobile app.  A brand can instruct consumers to use their app for interactive content whenever they see their brand, whether it’s a radio commercial, TV spot, product package, print ad or catalog for exclusive content, deals, coupons and more.  By telling consumers to use one application to engage with all of their media, it keeps the audience in the branded environment, which they already trust.

Q: How does the technology work, step by step?

A: The process is incredibly easy.  Digimarc developed a web service, Digimarc Discover Online Services Portal (OSP), where customers can embed unique digital watermarks in an image, icon, text block or audio file, and then enter the URL to which the watermarked element will be linked when scanned.  The following is a step-by-step process for embedding a digital watermark:

  1. The brand determines what images/icons will be watermarked and what network service consumers will receive after scanning the watermarks.
  2. A project folder is created in the OSP and services are created for each image that will be watermarked and its URL response.
  3. Images are watermarked once they are prepared for the press and sized in a layout.
  4. The watermarked image is linked to the service and assigned a URL response, which can be updated, even after printing.
  5. The watermarked images are updated in the layout and ready for printing.

This process is made even easier by Digimarc Share:

  1. The publisher or brand determines what print content they want to make shareable and on which social networks.
  2. Publisher watermarks content.
  3. Digimarc will then work closely with the publisher to build a branded, mobile-optimized landing page for each unique Digimarc Share service.

Q: What is the future of advertising and social?

A: That really depends on how much users are willing to share personal information.  If brands provide a strong enough incentive for users, people will start seeing more sponsored content from their friends. Social advertising will continue to blur the line of sponsored content and in the future, I think advertisers will provide bigger incentives for consumers to allow brands to share their purchases online.  How much of a discount would most consumers need from a brand to tell everyone on LinkedIn that they just bought something?  And when does that line become too blurred and it’s considered oversharing?

Richard L. Tso is a reporter for Adotas and an avid writer covering the intersection of technology and advertising, fashion and music. With over 12 years of experience in the Advertising, Marketing and Public Relations industries, Richard has held executive positions at global agencies and technology companies and is founder of the interactive communications firm Pseudosound Consulting LLC. A classical cellist and painter, he believes that sometimes sound carries more weight than words. He is a graduate of Stanford University.

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