While there has been a lot of focus on magazines developing “app” versions of their magazines as they try to find new ways to reach readers — Time Magazine has done it, GQ has done it, just to name two of many — some still believe that there’s something to be said for holding the thing in your hand and flipping through the pages.
At the same time, they recognize that maybe there’s some middle ground incorporating the print version of the magazine and the ability to go online for a little extra content.
So, welcome to Microsoft Tag.
In Microsoft hyperbole terms, Tag is “a breakthrough technology that transforms everyday things in the real world into live links to online information and entertainment.”
In normal speak, it’s a souped-up barcode that — after software is downloaded — allows for more much information and takes pretty much any reader with a camera-enhanced phone that can surf the web to make the journey from print to online.
While Tags have generally been used in advertising, Entertainment Weekly, which is out today with their summer movie preview, is taking a big step forward incorporating them into editorial content — allowing readers to jump from the page to trailers for 20 of the previewed films.
In addition to the trailers, readers will be able to visit “Tag”ed content from five advertisers.
While EW’s first effort with a new technology wasn’t as successful as they had hoped — according to Mediaweek, only about 5,000 people (out of EW’s 10 million-plus readers) made the digital jump when they worked with a different vendor — they think they’ve got the kinks worked out and more issues should be on their way.
Entertainment Weekly is saying that this first time anyone has used third party video content within edit though it is worth mentioning that Golf Digest used Tags in their November issue to allow readers to see extra content such as video of lessons being described.
So, what’s it all mean? Is having Tag technology going to save magazines? Who knows.
Here’s the thing… a couple of years ago, Gawker reported a rumor that EW was considering going online-only like the Christian Science Monitor. They actually didn’t appear to mean anything bad by it… they were saying the magazine’s ad pages were down (important to note they are back up; a spokesman says up from last year so far) and circulation while very good, was somewhat stagnant (which still seems to be the case), while their web traffic was just terrific.
I think what EW has done with this issue — and Golf Digest, previously — is recognize that it’s not an either/or situation. People like holding magazines, books, newspapers… they also like to go online.
So, while I am pretty much a Mac person, I have to give kudos to Microsoft for a technology that seems able to help bridge the gap between the two media.
Will more publications follow EW? Will EW follow itself and develop specialized content beyond links to ads and movie trailers?