How AR offers a digital and mobile solution to enhance, rather than erode, physical sales.

Caspar Thykier, Co-founder and CEO, Zappar

At Zappar we’ve done a ton of work in publishing, given talks at conferences and fairs and written a lot on the subject of best practice when it comes to augmented reality in this sector.

But publishing is a clearly a massive area covering so many different verticals from books to magazines, educational literature to newspapers, supplements and more. So we thought we’d break it down a little and look at magazines, and specifically where AR fits both editorially and from an ad sales perspective.

What is the problem we could potentially help solve with the use of AR?

First, some scene-setting…

As with much of the publishing sector, magazines are in long-term decline, with a gradual and inexorable move to digital formats online, on mobile and tablets. Newsstand sales of US consumer magazines dropped 12% in the first half of 2014 from a year earlier, while paid subscriptions declined 1.8%. Digital editions, meanwhile, continued to expand their presence in the industry, according to figures from the Alliance for Audited Media [ref: The Wall Street Journal].

The media cycles for consumers seem to be increasing at a ‘Moore’s Law’ pace, as do the multitudinous opinions of the masses putting greater strain on any weekly, monthly or quarterly release to keep up to date.

Right now magazines are caught brilliantly between a rock and a hard place with a printed publication that increasingly fewer people are still willing to pay for and digital format that unfortunately most people now expect to be free (or else they’ll find the next best thing that is).

All the while the cost of managing both (with multiple platform variants) for a publisher escalate and the eyeballs for any one diminish, making the job for the ad sales team and rates they can command that much harder to achieve.

So what can AR bring to the table?

Physical magazines will always play to a hardcore audience of advocates, especially where the content is geared towards a passion point or area of special interest (from fashion to fishing). It’s also true that the vast majority of people whilst reading their magazine will be within a hands-grasp of their mobile device.

So can the space between man, magazine and mobile create added value? Find out more next week...