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SnapTags are the latest weapon print publications can use in the war against digital content. The American scanner made its Canadian magazine debut on Monday

Social SnapTags made its Canadian debut Monday in LOULOU magazine’s June issue. SnapTags are a new image recognition technology that bridge traditional print and digital content.
They work similar to QR codes and offer content, promotions, coupons and other incentives to readers upon scanning. It’s the latest way for print culture to incorporate novel technologies that appeal to the 18 – 35 demographic.

“We like to be really forward thinking because that’s where our audience is,” says Julia Cyboran, LOULOU‘s Multi-Platform Content Director. “They like their smartphones and they like apps.”

From an editorial perspective, Social SnapTags work better in print than QR codes, most notably because they look less like advertisements. They take the form of branded, colour-coded circles that read more like page stamps. “The SnapTags are more visually appealing than previous types of image recognition technology and that’s what’s really fun about them,” Cyboran says.

SnapTags can be read through a free SnapTag reader app by developers Spyderlynk, a Denver, Colorado based mobile marketing company. LOULOU has its own free scanning app called LOULOU Extras also developed by Spyderlynk, available for iPhones and Android. Most any smartphone can snap a photo of a tag and submit it via email to receive the same incentives. These tags are designed with both consumers and marketers in mind, though there is greater benefit for the latter. While consumers receive incentives, marketers have the potential to greatly increase audience interaction, social media engagement, sales and traffic for a relatively low advertising cost.

Unlike QR codes that can be generated almost anywhere on the web, Spyderlynk doesn’t plan to make the technology publically available so its revenue model is more secure. Spyderlynk approached Rogers Publishing when it was looking to expand into Canadian markets and LOULOU took the bait. “It was an obvious fit for us to be the fist magazine to launch on the advertising side and also on the marketing side through contests,” Cyboran says. Offering exclusive incentives through these SnapTags is also another weapon print magazines can use in the war against digital content.

For marketers, SnapTags work like any other advertising campaign. Tiered pricing packages are available from $750 to $2,500 per month. The more platinum packages collect consumer data, allow for limited coupons per person and provide greater analytics. There are additional fees for all Facebook likes received through the app, which start at a minimum of $500. LOULOU’s sales and marketing departments work to form partnerships with brands such as Birks and Puma, both featured in this month’s issue. It’s too soon yet to tell the potential impact these tags will have on readers, but LOULOU plans to incorporate more tags into the magazine if they’re well received.

Novel technologies are nothing new for the fashion mag. LOULOU was one of, if not the first magazine in Canada to have scannable barcode deals and SMS codes in its publications. It’s especially now more relevant considering the fresh cancellation of fashion/lifestyle leader Sweetspot.ca. Though LOULOU represents the first Canadian magazine to introduce the tags, Glamour already uses the tags in the States. In addition to magazines, numerous brands have taken to SnapTags in print promotional campaigns including Coke Zero, Dior, COVERGIRL and Miller/Coors.

“I have a feeling initiatives like this will continue to become a part of our regular landscape,” Cyboran says. “Our audience is so connected technologically speaking that these are the types of things they’re going to expect from us in the future.”


Sheena Lyonnais writes about tech for Toronto Standard. You can follow her on Twitter at @SheenaLyonnais.

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