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Real Simple marries mobile and print via image recognition

Time Inc.?s Real Simple is placing mobile at the center of a recurring front-of-book section that uses image recognition to bring static pages to life.

The scanning technology is being rolled out in the March issue of Real Simple. Digimarc is powering the technology.

?We took the best of the Real Simple magazine and layered on interactivity to bring digital to print,? said Kathleen Harris, managing editor of, New York.

?We want to give the reader an experience that is not a one-and-done," she said. "In the future we hope to have scan technology where the URL is the same, but the content might change everyday.

?In terms of the experience from a design perspective, design is so critical to Real Simple and we wanted an experience that felt seamless. In the past, we had tested out using tag readers, but this is the first large-scale effort using the technology and it seems to work more seamlessly.?

Scanned incentive
Real Simple is mobilizing its front-of-book section The Realist.

To help educate consumers about how the technology works, a full page at the front of the magazine walks users through it.

First, readers can download the Digimarc Discover application, which is available for free on iPhone and Android devices.

Additionally, calls-to-action that feature an image of a smartphone appear on the nine editorial pages in the section.

With the app, consumers can hover their mobile device 4-7 inches above the page.

The app then loads additional content that ties into the editorial content on each page.

For example, the opener page, which features the best chocolate bunnies for Easter, links to a page on Real Simple?s mobile site that includes more winners.

Socially interactive
Social media also plays a big role in how Real Simple is leveraging mobile and print.

A trend page about tangerine-colored items directs users to a Pinterest board from Real Simple where users can view more products and click-through to buy them.

Equipping static print pages with mobile is nothing new for publishers. However, what makes Real Simple?s execution stand out is that every page of the section involves a mobile component.

Additionally, the section will be a recurring part of the magazine?s print edition.

Although it is too early to determine results, Real Simple is seeing some interesting trends in how readers consume the digital content.

?One thing that we have seen that is very interesting is that the spikes in scanning are happening on weekends,? Ms. Harris said.

Mobile past
Real Simple has used mobile in the past, especially with apps.

For Mother?s Day last year, Real Simple rolled out a mobile app that lets users shop for gifts (see story). 

In 2010, Real Simple launched its No Time to Cook? application for iPad, iPhone and Android devices with Sara Lee?s Hillshire Farm as the launch advertiser (see story).

?[Mobile] is still not 100 percent commonplace," Ms. Harris said. "In terms of the Real Simple reader, we want to make it easier for her through directions, and the more that she becomes accustomed to it, she will begin to expect it."

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York