We instinctively shudder at any mention of the immensely silly CueCat, but we really liked this piece in Promo Magazine.
Snipped from the article:
Anyone whose memories of the Internet economy extend back to sock-puppet spokesmen and sites devoted to toys should remember the CueCat, a cat-shaped handheld barcode reader that plugged into the computer. It allowed users to scan special barcodes in print magazines or on product packages and get linked to a URL offering more information about the story or product.
CueCat is now an answer in the dot-com version of Trivial Pursuit. But interactive print is back and building momentum, thanks to the CueCat already in everyone's hand, so to speak: the mobile phone. Several tech platforms are taking different roads to incorporate mobile phone capabilities — text messaging and cameras — into offline marketing, and in the process building a new backchannel for print, broadcast or out-of-home promotions.
For example, pick up the current July/August issue of Men's Health magazine and you'll find that you can get coupons, samples, content or just product information simply by taking pictures of any of the ads and sending the photos as multimedia messages to MH@snaptell.com.
Clicking a photo of an ad for a Dolce & Gabbana men's cologne, for example, returns a text message containing a URL for retailer Macy's and a discount offer on shipping for the $70 product. Snapping an ad for Westin Hotels & Resorts produces a vacation-themed ringtone download. And an ad for the Chevy Malibu produces a link to a mobile site offering very full product specs and consumer reviews of the latest model.
Other brands taking part in the Men's Health initiative include Honda Motors, Anheuser-Busch, Quaker Oats, The Coca-Cola Co. and Procter & Gamble.
Tech provider SnapTell maintains a server housing the image-recognition software that detects which ad the user photographed and also manages the database of marketer messages. “Both those elements are important,” says Adam Schneider, sales vice president for SnapTell. “We have a 99% image-matching rate, but if you don't send the relevant content back, then that [rate] doesn't mean anything.”
SnapTell licensed the technology to Men's Health publisher Rodale, which then used the enhanced interactivity in sales pitches to its usual advertisers.
“This treats mobile not as a standalone channel, but as an integrated enhancement to other forms of advertising,” Schneider says. He says SnapTell will power portions of a Rolling Stone print issue this fall — its second partnership with that magazine after an integration last September.