Rich Media in The Print World? Really?

Heading into the Fall TV season, networks always brings some interesting forms of advertising like tune-in information being printed on eggs or billboards for fictional elements of the show it is marketing appearing in provocative places.  Those can be rich experiences, but they must really jump out at you. Are print publishers devising ways to provide “rich media” experiences in their magazines?  Some new show ads are as simple as a print piece in a magazine. And sometimes it is more than just an ad, but who knows if some of those things are just an opportunity to tout that they were “first.”

A recent attempt at this was on the back cover of Entertainment Weekly for ABC’s upcoming drama, Revenge.  The odd thing is that the key image was sealed, easily missed and not really logical.  You can see in the images below what it looked like when closed and also open.  Unfortunately, the pull strip was lost (revealing the full image that was not originally viewable), but it was not clear that you could even pull the strip down to open up an inner experience.

 

Readers only saw the copy,  “What Goes Around Comes Around”, but unless they were able to tell that the back page was thicker than normal, they might not have taken a closer look.  When the page was opened, you could see that there was not much more than title, tune-in and a QR code.  Users don’t know more about the show and are not really drawn to find out what’s behind the QR code.  So, they ‘ve put themselves behind the 8-ball as only inquisitive people who pay attention to page-weight irregularities (odd folks like me) would open it and then the numbers would drop off again for users who would actually scan a QR code.  Anyone who would be interested in scanning would be just as interested in finding out that they were releasing the pilot script on Kindle if they were to include that information here.  (But that’s getting too geeky and veering from the point.)

While this execution does not allow for digital tracking of interactions like digital rich media does, they could get some feedback based on how many people scan.  But those numbers will most-likely be so small that it could be depressing to present to network bosses who are more comfortable with the Millions rather than the hundreds.

I do give ABC credit for trying something new – and Entertainment Weekly for offering it in the first place – but this execution provides a strong argument for not just doing something “cool” but well positioned.  And, don’t forget that its got to have some narrative value that provides more for the consumer than what they could alternatively see in a simple print execution.  Experimentation is great as long as it is not wasted. We’ve learned a lot from the cool things that didn’t meet an audience effectively. Is this execution coming at a time where they should have known better?  Perhaps, but we don’t know enough about the mechanics of how it came to be.

In this case, they needed to provide some value for those who explored and found the expanding ad.  Just an image doesn’t cut it.  Additionally from an impressions viewpoint, they restricted themselves based on the mechanic and messaging.  Time is getting tighter and short of crazy flashing lights, executions need to break through the clutter in order to truly be rich.

There are definite opportunities for print media to become rich media, it really comes down to leveraging the proper publisher, the proper audience and the best storytelling.

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