Monday, October 5, 2009

Publishers Try to offer More Value with Web-enabled Ads

Three years ago, Web-enabled print ads were all the rage as publishers tried to shed their old-media image. Bar codes and tags started popping up in titles, inviting cell-phone-equipped readers to shop or get product information by texting or snapping a photo of an ad.

But those “snappable” ads quickly got a bad rap from media buyers, publishers and even the technology providers themselves, who blamed clunky user experiences on long software download times and poor execution.

“I think a lot of magazines last year did it wrong,” said Carlos Lamadrid, senior vp, chief brand officer, Hachette Filipacchi Media’s Woman’s Day Group, who published four Web-enabled ads issues of Woman’s Day this year. Some didn’t explain the ads well to readers, while advertisers fumbled with what types of offers would drive the highest response. (Not surprisingly, free samples and coupons worked the best.) Said Lamadrid: “Just to say ‘Go to my Web site’ doesn’t work.”

Brenda White, senior vp, publishing activation director, Starcom USA, said the technology is still new to the consumer and cumbersome to use. “It needs to take some time to catch on a little bit,” she said.

Providers admit the execution needs work. “Too often, the response has been the URL of the company,” said Adam Shapiro, vp, business development, North America, LinkMe Mobile, formerly SnapNow. “It’s really a lousy experience.”

Magazines say they—and their clients—have learned from experience. Rather than giving up on the technology, they’re committed to using it more in hopes it will show print’s ability to drive reader response.

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