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Magazine Publishers Forgot How to Innovate

Maarten Lens-FitzGerald January 12, 2014

Layar Has the Solution with Interactive Print

In this era of technological change, innovation is essential to each industry. In magazine publishing there is very limited room for innovation; the focus is on survival and every penny counts. Yet to survive, investing time, resources and good people in new innovations and learning how to make them work is essential. Don’t forget that magazine publishing websites didn’t make money from the start, but making money seems to be the bar current new innovations are held to.

Interactive print is a powerful innovation that is in its last round of learnings to earn its lasting place in the publishing industry, adding value, engagement and revenue. Some publishers have been “playing around” with interactive print, and the numbers are getting more serious: at Layar we’ve seen over 50,000 executed campaigns. To help make the last round of learnings happen effectively, we’re introducing the Layar Innovation Program to accelerate the learning curve and strengthen this print-based opportunity of the magazine industry.

Innovation Is Key to Every Business
In the last 200 years, innovation hasn’t been needed as much as it is now. Most industries have relied on scalable efficiencies: larger production, lower cost and high barriers to entry. Accomplish that and innovation hasn’t been needed.

Today this has changed. Innovation is crucial for any business to last. An exponential rate of technology growth is present with market uncertainty and disruption where competition can come from around every corner. We all have heard the disruption examples in music and video, and as we all know, change is happening in publishing as well. We have also learned that the companies which remain afloat are the ones that keep innovating alongside their day-to-day business. And not just short-term innovation. It’s lasting innovation that constantly returns value.

Magazine Publishers Forgot How to Innovate
Publishers of magazines have taken a double hit in the last 10 years. New technologies disrupted their core advertising business model and their distribution platform (the Internet) and means of consumption (the Web and tablets). Add to that the economic depression in the last several years and the industry finds itself in survival mode.

The industry is focusing on survival and forgetting about innovation. Short-term results are what count in such a period of survival. Yet how does one ensure long term survival for the industry with such accelerated technology, business and market innovation? Innovation is essential. Without it, outsiders will come in and do it without the main players, just as Apple did for music and YouTube did for video.

Currently, any innovation in the magazine industry has to make money from the start. This approach may keep the bottom line steady but it doesn’t result in long-lasting innovation. It ignores the existence of a learning curve and may not even be innovation anymore but only short-lasting gimmicks. There is a lot of skepticism in the industry, even for innovation. Although this is understandable given the situation, it will not help the industry get to the next level.

Yet this wasn’t always the case. In the past, magazine publishers were able to find great long-lasting innovative models by investing in them and helping them work over time by trying, testing and learning. Websites didn’t make money from the start, nor did digital editions, commerce, merchandising and events. Enough did make money, however, eventually resulting in solid revenues.

So how do we make room in the world of publishing to keep innovating?

Layar Wants to Help Get the Mojo Back
Interactive print is a step innovation for the publishing industry. It’s the technology that links the printed world to the digital world, turning a substitute into an add on and resulting in extra value for readers and advertisers. Some have said its the best innovation since color ink jet printing was introduced. Others say its the second screen of print. The key thing is that it strengthens the core product – printed paper – and links it to the online world and all of its opportunities. It’s an alliance of strengths.

Mojo, from the movie Austin Powers.

Layar has seen over 300,000 interactive print pages published with a big part coming from magazine publishers all over the world, both big and small, as well as in the B2C, B2B and custom media arenas. We’ve learned a lot about what works and also what doesn’t. Many of the puzzle pieces on how to do interactive print well have become clear, but the whole puzzle has not been solved just yet.

We don’t want to wait for the pieces to fall into place, we want to help complete the puzzle. Layar has the learnings and insights from publishing specialists and from over 50,000 published campaigns. We want to systematically work with publishers to make interactive print successful in the long run. The Layar Innovation Program is for publishers who are ready to commit to making interactive print work for them in a lasting manner.

In the Layar Innovation Program, we bring our lessons learned, expertise and technology to the table. We ask that publishers come to the table with the magazine titles they think will work best with interactive print based on target group, content and advertisers. Publishers should be ready to work for 6-12 issues to learn and build the proof for using the technology in their business.

During the program, Layar and the publisher will work together issue-by-issue to develop and create interactive content and advertising, print calls-to-action, analytics, reporting and more. The result is the proof on how interactive print adds a lasting value to the business as well as the knowledge of activating the new channel, the amount of work needed and content types that succeed. The program requires an average investment of around €65,000 (roughly $90,000), but you can now enter to get in at no cost this year. How?

A Call for Mavericks
The reality is that print is still the core of the publishing business. While ad revenue and subscriptions are down, interactive print grows the business, enhances the business – call it what you want. Layar reinforces print. That’s why Layar is looking for the true mavericks in magazine publishing.

We are giving away 1 full membership to the Innovation Program for free! We are looking for publishers who will convince us that they are ready to join. If we’re impressed and we choose you, you’ll receive the full benefit of the Innovation Program at no cost. We want to put our money where our mouth is. If you’re ready to bring the mojo back to publishing and think you need to be part of this program, enter to win today at

Maarten Lens-FitzGerald
Layar Co-Founder


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