Magazines Find Some Success With Interactive Content

Readers Use Mobile Phones to Buy, Get Coupons from Print Pages

By Published on .

SAN FRANCISCO ( -- While a handful of magazines have experimented with making their advertising pages digitally interactive, women's service title Woman's Day has gone a step further and made its editorial pages interactive as well -- with promising results for one advertiser.

With its newest interactive experiment, Woman's Day invites readers to send in pictures from their mobile phones to get coupons and other promotions.
With its newest interactive experiment, Woman's Day invites readers to send in pictures from their mobile phones to get coupons and other promotions.
The interactive call to action is straightforward: Readers are invited to snap pictures with their mobile phones of any page in the magazine that bears an icon indicating the page is "snap-enabled." After sending their pictures to a designated address, readers receive a coupon, a sample offer or some other promotion.

In Woman's Day's first interactive issue, in October, mass retailer Target sold several thousand necklaces thanks to a snap-enabled editorial that featured the jewelry, said Carlos Lamadrid, senior VP-chief brand officer, Woman's Day Brand Group. Readers who snapped pictures of the page received a link to a Target-branded mobile web page created by Woman's Day where they could buy the necklace.

While Mr. Lamadrid declined to say how many necklaces were sold, he said the mobile program's performance exceeded expectations, and he expects the digital overlay to become a mainstay of Woman's Day's printed pages. Four interactive issues are planned for this year, he said.

"It allows advertisers to engage the reader in another way, and allows them to get a greater sense of return on investment," Mr. Lamadrid said.

Varying results
Mobile programs have seen varying results among publishers. Mr. Lamadrid said it was important to make sure readers knew what to do when confronted with the snap-enabled pages. Woman's Day devoted sections in the front of the magazine to instructions on using a mobile phone to get offers and promotions. The mobile-enabled advertising pages also spelled out what readers would get in return for the snapped pages. An advertiser that merely sends back a URL to the company website may be missing the point, Mr. Lamadrid said.

Woman's Day's mobile program, which involved 10 advertisers and 12 interactive editorial units, delivered more than 200,000 snaps, Mr. Lamadrid said. In 160,000 of those cases, readers took further action on a mobile site, such as entering a sweepstakes or signing up for more information. The magazine has a 3.8 million circulation rate base and a readership of 23 million.

While Mr. Lamadrid would not break out how many responses could be attributed to advertising vs. editorial, he said advertising yielded more requests; an American Express sweepstakes promotion for $500 gift certificates netted the most snaps, at 52,000.

Similar programs at GQ
Men's lifestyle title GQ undertook similar initiatives last year for two advertisers. One of them, Gillette, used the program to distribute samples of its new grooming products. However, readers were not snapping pictures of any full Gillette ad, because the program was executed through GQ's promotional section. A total of 2,357 requests were made in several months beginning with GQ's August issue and ending Jan. 15 with the November issue. GQ's circulation is 920,000, and its readership is 6.1 million.

The other GQ advertiser, Maserati, wanted a viral, multiplatform program highlighting a study that found that the sound of a Maserati engine triggered a biological response in women. The mobile piece of a suite of digital promotions offered by GQ allowed readers who sent in a picture of the Maserati ad to download a ringtone of the sound of the car's engine. The program, which ran in the December issue, yielded more than 2,300 downloads.

GQ VP-Publisher Peter Hunsinger said both advertisers were happy with the results, but the technology is still emerging, and the program was an opportunity for them to experiment and learn. "We promoted it as a way to get their feet wet," Mr. Hunsinger said, adding that more interactive issues are planned for the second half of the year.

SnapTell provided the back-end technology for GQ's ad-enabled pages, while LinkMe Mobile was the vendor for Woman's Day.

Coty campaign
Perfume maker Coty snap-enabled a print-ad campaign that promoted the Gwen Stefani Harajuku fragrance collection in beauty magazines, and the results exceeded its expectations. The program has recorded more than 105,000 snaps since launching in September.

Users who snap and send off a picture can choose among a ringtone of Ms. Stefani's music, a free sample and a quiz to see which fragrance best suits their personality; each represents a character inspired by the Japanese girls from Harajuku district of Tokyo.

"It's really part of a larger campaign to speak to this girl in an unexpected way," said Dennis Keogh, Coty's senior VP-U.S. marketing, adding that the company will continue the snap-enabled print ads indefinitely. "We just tried to challenge ourselves in asking how could we bring these characters to life in unexpected ways?"

At Woman's Day, the interactive add-on has allowed its publisher, Hachette Filipacchi, to derive additional revenue. The magazine doesn't charge advertisers extra for the feature, but it has been able to entice them to commit to more pages in exchange for a free interactive page, Mr. Lamadrid said.

While Mr. Lamadrid scoffed at the idea that magazines see the mobile extension as a way of staying relevant in the digital age, he said he does see the two media as complementary. "The melding of magazine and mobile will morph. ... What mobile technology does is that it's one more element added to the brand to allow consumers to interface with the magazine in a different way."

Most Popular
In this article: