The Telegraph is boosting revenues with truly interactive campaigns across all digital and print platforms. Mark Hargreaves reports
NEWSPAPERS throughout the country are having to seek fresh ways to succeed in this brave new digital world where news is often given away for free – a model that is simply unsustainable in the long term.
To survive, publishers are having to innovate and develop new commercial opportunities that embrace the potential of digital technologies. In most cases, they are concentrating on how to monetise digital-only offerings but some are recognising that there can be a symbiotic relationship between traditional print and cutting edge digital technology.
One newspaper publisher that has recognised just how successful the marriage of print and digital can be is the Telegraph Media Group where chief production officer Peter Green says: “The Telegraph definitely sees the marriage of print and digital as a way forward for the industry. In fact, we have had this perception for some 22 years since the launch of our original website.
“Most importantly, what the Telegraph understands is that we need to service what our readers want and provide them and our advertisers with a wide range of creative and exciting innovations designed to enhance their relationship with our newspapers.“One such innovation has been the introduction of interactive supplements. The first one was published in May 2011. The drive behind the supplements was to increase revenue by adding value to a campaign with a seamless link from the paper to rich digital assets.”
Peter Green: 'The marriage of print and digital is a way forward for the industry'
The technology, created by Digimarc, allows the Telegraph to imbed digital watermarks into images that, unlike generic QR codes, are invisible to the human eye. This provides the Telegraph with the opportunity to watermark images to provide readers with additional information, video, and picture galleries. With Digital Space, the Telegraph developed an app, Telegraph Go, which allows readers to use their smart phones to ‘read’ the watermarks.
Importantly the technology necessary to imbed the digital watermarks has no impact on the Telegraph’s own workflow. It’s a bespoke system that lets the Telegraph integrate the technology into its workflow with minimal, if any human intervention. It also poses no challenges for the printer to overcome. A key factor for the Telegraph is that the technology did not generate any extra work or use up management time.
The first client that the Telegraph worked with using this new technology was Brittany Ferries. Green says: “Brittany Ferries needed to inspire people to book a holiday package with them to Cantabria in Northern Spain. The diversity of the region and a number of road trips were to be used to inspire people to take their car as a preference to cheaper low cost airlines, as Brittany Ferries was the only option for sea-based travel to Spain.
“The Telegraph has a travel-loving audience with many travelling to Spain by air. Research indicated that the readers had not considered using their cars to travel to Spain despite liking the idea of touring holidays.
“The client wanted an improvement on freefone numbers and web addresses shown at the bottom of the printed copy. Digital watermarks provided us with the perfect solution, enabling readers to use their smart phones to link directly from imagery within the supplement to information about the location featured within the image. This information was provided direct to their smart phone, by just hovering the phone above the image.
“The mobile audience which had interacted with the digital watermarks in print were directed to relevant ‘mobile optimised’ information online that complemented the print. For example, when reading the ‘10 Best Beaches’ feature, the mobile audience could view the beaches by hovering their phone over the image.”
Brittany Ferries achieved more than 1,500 hits via smartphones and more than 250 calls from the smart phone link. Sales were up by 55 per cent compared to the same period the year before and more than £100,000 in sales was linked directly to the smart phone activation.The success of the Brittany Ferries supplement has led to many other applications of the technology. Recent clients using the technology include British Airways, Emirates, Swiss Tourist Board, Sky and Citroen. The Telegraph has also used it on editorial within the paper’s Travel section.
Says Green: “The versatility of the technology goes far beyond just using it for supplements. We’ve also had success selling it into ROP and magazine advertising.
“Going forward, we see this technology having many other enabling factors: it will enhance how newspapers sell directly off the page. It will facilitate buying the newspaper with your mobile phone and provide a link for newspapers, TV and radio to a mobile device. “We are now in a position where we can create print, video and radio content that is watermarked. So very soon, you will be able to purchase a product or service from a radio ad in your car, the same as you can from your hard copy Telegraph.”