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Esquire Magazine’s December 2009 issue presented what they called “the Augmented Reality” issue. Really it was an issue of their periodical with special barcode-like squares sporadically added to the magazine’s pages. When held up to a user’s computer camera, the magazine becomes interactive on the monitor. I brought this topic up to my new media course while amidst our long discussion of convergence culture. We were talking about how television, newspapers and magazines, things that fearful and ignorant people say “are dying”, are actually going to adapt and change to the new culture. Well this issue seemed like a good place to start the explore a “you”-based trend because Esquire has decided to utilize the web camera with video integration and have you interact with magazine. (Esquire’s explanation here and Mr. Magazine’s blog on the topic here.)

Screen shot of Augmented text

Screen shot from the issue

It seems as if the magazine is with you in the mirror because the camera acts as a reflection of you holding the issue up to the monitor. It uses the camera for you. But why you? Because YOU are what is important. It’s because convergent culture is about you, the “royal” You. Meaning everyone, me, them and us included.

The success of YouTube over the course of the last several years have shown advertisers and savvy marketers that the products to be sold cannot be sold without You on board; without You in the plan.

This isn’t about me, this is about us, but us is referred to as You. All of You.

In the video The History of YouTube, the narrator explains that what Google bought when they purchased YouTube wasn’t just a website and “they weren’t buying a company, they were buying a community” and “if you were a YouTube user, Google was buying You“. This is a very powerful and moving statement and it almost seemed glossed over and accepted. I had shown this video twice before, acknowledging the different parts of this video and now it seemed important to explain what the YOU in YouTube was creating a trend in marketing.

Lately, a few trends in marketing have been pushing You much stronger than before. Yahoo!’s new “Anthem” advertisement is about you, the HTC ads are about you, the Flip Camera advertisement is especially about YOU.

But it’s more than that… because You are part of the product. In all three of these commercials, there is no other word than “You” in reference to people in these commercials. And what’s more interesting is the usage of the copy in these commercials. In the Yahoo! ad, the use of “consume” and the imagery of the kid eating ice cream are attached in Your mind, but when thought about, you realize that they are referring to purchasing a product. (And “flirting” showing children.. interesting metaphor for adult online dating.)

It’s something to think about as consumers though, how you are accepting technology and culture and experiencing a life where your collective unconscious includes the acceptance of a machines and YOU together. The camera, the device, the you. This is not only an interesting thought, but an interesting visual, especially in the follow-up HTC commercial.

What point of view are You being seen from? The answer is your phone. Which is slowly become inseparable… from you.

Why does this matter? It will hopefully make you think about how technology will interact with you in the future and how products that are adapting to the new technologies. The Esquire Magazine Augment Reality is not new. The idea of interacting technologies has been around for awhile. The question will be, what will be? What about IPTV and converged television technologies? What about magazines that ONLY have the graphic barcode-like squares and you have to read the magazine through your cell-phone’s camera? Either way… It will involve You.

This trend will be ongoing for awhile while marketers and advertisers figure out how to bring all of their products directly to You.

One of my students asked today why we still need to go out and do things if all of this will be accessible to You at all times.

Because none of YOU will want to be this:

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