- The New York Times Magazine's annual music issue will have print ads with interactive features that readers can see by scanning them with a smartphone camera — a first for the paper. Readers must use Google Lens, the image-recognition tool in the company's app, to access the features, per an announcement.
- The integration with Lens lets readers see videos and animations that accompany the music issue's editorial content. The annual "25 Songs That Matter Right Now" feature again has essays explaining the relevance of each song, but this year, readers can use Lens to hear the tracks in a playlist.
- Readers also can use Lens to digitally save and share articles and learn more about how its designers created the magazine's multiple covers as part of its "Behind the Cover" video series. The magazine's music issue will hit newsstands on March 15, per the announcement.
The New York Times Magazine aims to provide a more immersive experience for readers of its musical issue with digital content they can activate via Google Lens. For the advertisers with digital content, it's an opportunity to engage consumers and possibly measure how many of them respond to their ad placements. The magazine and its sponsors can use that information to hone future efforts to appeal to readers and convert them into customers.
For Google, the magazine's music issue is a chance to show how its image-recognition technology has expanded its search capabilities for the smartphone era, reaching beyond its core competency in indexing text-based content. Google Lens, first introduced three years ago as one of search giant's most significant breakthrough technologies, is integrated with the Android mobile operating system and several of its apps for Apple devices. Lens not only can identify millions of objects and images, but also is equipped to scan QR codes, translate languages and copy and save text. Last year, Google added shopping features to Lens and integrated the technology with its Google Maps navigation app to highlight popular dishes when users scan restaurant menus, among other features.
The New York Times is among the publishers that are creating immersive experiences to connect with a younger generation of tech-savvy consumers who rely on smartphones to see multimedia content. Gannett's USA Today also has developed several augmented reality experiences to enhance its storytelling with digital imagery. Cosmopolitan magazine last year hosted an online event on its mobile website to engage fans of the Netflix thriller series "You" as part of a collaboration with the Google News Initiative, the search giant's effort to support journalism in the digital age. As younger consumers seek experiences they can share on social media, these efforts may help to cultivate stronger bonds with readers who are tuned into smartphone integrations.