A mutual relationship: print and digital content

By Clare Hill

Content marketing has dramatically shifted towards the digital in recent years. Instead of making print obsolete, digital has provided the opportunity to offer additional content and new ways to consume media. In reality, print and digital have actually formed a mutually dependent relationship, where one cannot exist without the other. Content marketers who have achieved the most success are those that understand how consumer habits are changing and responded accordingly to offer immersive and engaging experiences. Furthermore, new technologies are opening up additional benefits for content marketing, as print and digital become increasingly intertwined.

Near field communication (NFC) holds huge potential for the content marketing industry by facilitating the transfer of data and content speedily onto personal devices. This month, a number of mobile heavyweights such as Samsung and HTC have announced their latest models will include NFC technology. Devices with NFC chips allow users to tap their phone or tablet against an object to transfer data, usually via a URL. The technology has provided content marketers with the chance to enrich the consumer experience, by providing additional extras. IPC Media was the first to launch an NFC enabled issue of Marie Claire last summer. In a partnership with Nuffield Health, the magazine contained an advertisement that allowed readers to scan with a handheld device and receive a free two-day gym pass. This was the first step towards boosting customer engagement, but also offers huge potential for advertisers looking to invest in print titles.

The NFC technology allows content to be embedded on a page, so publications can lose the clunky-looking QR code and the overall experience for the consumer becomes far more seamless between online and offline channels. For instance, holding a mobile across an outfit on a page of a fashion magazine could take the user to a special site which showcases that season’s range of items or even a mobile application showing outfit ideas, at the click of a button. Most importantly, NFC could enable additional content to change dependent on real-time data, so the content consumed can be tailored to the weather or the reader’s location, creating an even more personalised and subsequently, engaging experience.

NFC is not the only tool available to content marketers looking to enrich the print experience, augmented reality (AR) is also being used to showcase videos and further product information through handheld devices. A great example of this was Redwood’s incorporation of AR into the Virgin Media magazine last year. The AR capability enabled marketers to promote upcoming films on Virgin Media by including images in the print edition that play adverts or trailers when an AR-ready device is hovered above them.

This has been taken further by Ikea, who incorporated the technology into its 2013 print catalogue. The catalogue offers innovative features that let consumers access films, interactive experience and photo galleries with their smart phones. What is really exciting about Ikea’s catalogue is the ability for consumers to build a personalised experience of the products and add to the content. For example, consumers can select different textiles and build decorative elements on the page. This makes for a far more interactive experience of the content provided, working in real-life elements with a virtual reality.

The content marketing industry is rapidly evolving with the onset of digital. New technologies such as NFC and augmented reality have begun to be utilised by content marketers not only to provide additional content, but to allow consumers to generate their own content. This makes for a far more immersive and engaging experience. New technologies are creating opportunities for print media to offer entirely new experiences, which can’t be matched online. As we move further into a multi-channel world, print and digital are not separate, but have actually become mutually dependent in the pursuit to create a truly engaging experience for consumers.

About the author

Clare Hill joined the CMA as Managing Director at the beginning of the year. She is an expert in media and marketing, particularly broadcast, having previously worked at DreamWorks, Universal Pictures and more recently, ITV.

About the company

The Content Marketing Association (CMA) is a not for profit organisation representing the content marketing industry. The overarching aim of the CMA is to promote the use of editorialised content as an effective marketing tool to client-side marketers and showcase the range of channels that can be used to editorially engage customers from digital – such as smart phone apps, tablet-enabled microsites and branded TV – to the more traditional customer magazines.


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