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How to Make Money with Augmented Reality in Publishing

Maarten Lens-FitzGerald September 27, 2013

AR will not save print. The publishers will.

As the largest platform for augmented reality (AR) with over 9 million downloads in the U.S. and 33 million across the world, Layar has seen many publishers begin to use the innovative technology to their advantage.

There are over 55,000 publishers, marketeers and more using our online interactive print creation tool, the Layar Creator, to create and manage AR campaigns. Seventeen is one of them. So is Inc. Magazine. All of the magazines of the Parents group, Dwell and many others are using Layar, including specialized B2B titles and local newspapers.

And these aren’t “one off” experiments. Many of our clients are regular users because they make money with AR.

Based on our breadth of experience, we’ve been able to distinguish four key ways to make money with AR in publishing. Plus, we’ve also discovered the most critical factor for success. Want to know what they are?

1. Up-sell Print Ads

The biggest way publishers are boosting revenue with AR is by up-selling their advertising. Now normal print ads can be sold as premium AR ads with digital extras, including videos, slideshows, links to webpages or even social media sharing. Some even create entire interactive experiences with 3D animations and games.

Conde Nast recently used Layar in a cross-magazine deal in Vogue, Allure and many others for Kraft’s new Crystal Light product line. It was a huge hit with readers, and major publishers like Napco have also started up-selling their ads with Layar in several of their magazines.

But it’s not just glossy magazines or B2B publications. In Canada, local newspaper publisher Glacier Media shared that they plan to make an extra $7.5 million thanks to their up-selling efforts for Layar-enhanced ads. AR is a perfect fit for the company’s high-volume, low-cost ad model, as the added value of interactivity brings in additional revenue.

The key benefit of AR is additional revenue with little effort. No new websites or iPad editions need to be built. AR allows the existing ad material to be enhanced, creating a competitive advantage and bringing in new revenue.

AR lifts sales morale and advertisers keep coming back because AR is fresh, new and it works! Publishers are making money and people are interacting with the ads - some achieving several hundred thousand views from readers. In short, the advertisers are ready, it’s up to publishers to provide it.

2. Sponsored Editorial Content

Another way publishers are cashing in on AR is through sponsored editorial content enhanced with augmented reality. A good example is the recent Inc. 500 issue in which the bonus AR content has been sponsored by Chase Bank.

Several video interviews, talks and other items are added with AR to the main editorial content feature Chase ads. Each video features a pre-roll ad for Chase credit cards. Depending on the magazine, the audience and other factors, some advertisers have paid over $1,000 to have their name associated with AR content. Others have paid in the tens of thousands. The money for AR is out there.

3. Print to E-Commerce

Rodale, Meredith, Conde Nast, Hearst… it’s hard to name a large publisher that’s not adding retail and e-commerce to its offering. Simultaneously, online retailers like Mr. Porter and Thrillist began in retail and have added publishing to their activities. There is a massive convergence between print and online retail taking place, and AR is the natural way to enable both.

With AR, readers can scan a page and add items to their shopping cart, allowing them to make impulse purchases right then and there. Seventeen saw amazing results with its September issue, as it allowed young readers to scan over 220 pages and add any item to a shopping wishlist.

Dwell and AHAlife.com successfully teamed up to use Layar to offer readers a shoppable magazine experience. They even sold a $3,000 rug through AR! This year, don’t be surprised when you see holiday gift guides with print-to-mobile e-commerce enabled. It’s here now and not going away. The printed page has become a point-of-sale.

4. Charge for Production Services

Layar is a self-service platform. It provides the tools that let anyone create interactive print content. Large printers like RR Donnelley, Brown and Fry Communications are leading the charge in creating extra augmented reality content for their customers.

Publishers are doing the same. Most have production studios that either charge by the hour or as a line item in a cross-media campaign. Either way the model is simple, they charge for the work they do and get paid for it.

The Critical Success Factor

Across the board we see one critical success factor that lets all publishers make money with augmented reality.

Two words: guts and belief.

Publishers with guts and that believe in AR make it work. They see the opportunity and seize it. They aren’t the people that sit back or say “If I only had more resources I would be better.” No. They are the publishers who say that “Despite the changes in my industry, despite the fact I have no extra resources, I made extra revenue with AR.”

They dare to make change in their organization and in their publication. They are the ones that are successful. We have seen it with Glacier Media, with Dwell, with Seventeen and more. At Layar we actively seek these mavericks. We want to work with them. Which are you? A “Despite” person? Or an “If only” person?

Recently, industry pundit Bosacks commented on the idea that AR will “save the print industry.” At Layar we don’t say this. Print doesn’t need saving. Print is changing, but it’s not disappearing.

There is only one key group to steer the industry through all of this successfully: the publishers with guts and belief. The maverick publishers.

Get in touch if you’re ready to join us.

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