As originally published in Synergyzer Issue 2 – 2016: ‘Breaking the Mold’
Defying the perception that print media is archaic; Jang Media Group is pioneering a digital metamorphosis of the conventional newspaper reading experience, integrating it with television and web, making it more interactive for its young and technology savvy consumers. The group has introduced QR codes in Jang Classified and launched the Jang Real application in a bid to make print a more vibrant and interactive apparatus.
All this action began last year with an extensive campaign: A series of TV commercials reminding the audience of the longstanding credibility of Jang Classifieds as well as bringing into focus its online classifieds platform, in comparison to the free online classified portals.
Synergyzer Magazine covered the campaign extensively in Issue 4, 2015 titled, “All Eyes On You: Measuring Audience & Advertiser Spend (Part 2)”, in the feature, “Advertising the Classifieds”. The newspaper’s latest tech bend led us back to Mr. Sarmad Ali, Managing Director Jang Media Group, where he spoke about how using QR codes have fortified Jang Classifieds and the addition of augmented reality to the newspaper’s print interface.
QR CODES FOR CLASSIFIED ADS: LAYERING DIGITAL ON PRINT
Jang newspaper has the largest classified platform of Pakistan, with annual revenues exceeding Rs. 700 million. However, with the emergence of online classified portals, the media giant decided to upgrade itself and integrate digital with its print platform, introducing QR codes to make the buying and selling experience more vibrant and dynamic.
The overall process is the same with additional charges for utilizing the QR code option; the classified advertiser can opt for a QR code-enabled ad at the time of booking. They later receive a link, password and reference number to upload pictures and videos of the product on the classified website. What gives an edge to Jang Classifieds over other online portals is the part where the newspaper team carefully scrutinizes the material uploaded before generating a QR code for the product which is then published along with the ad. This provides a sense of credibility and authenticity to both the buyer and seller, reducing chances of deception commonplace with online advertisements.
Once the ad is published in the classified section, prospective buyers can use any QR reader installed in their smartphones to scan the code and view the pictures and video uploaded by the advertiser.
Adding Videos to Print Classifieds
“A fresh addition to this entire process is our video feature which goes beyond the only pictures option offered by other classified portals”, shared Mr. Sarmad Ali. “This feature offers prospective buyers a thorough, online view of the product, and helps with the shortlisting process while the seller gets to provide more information, generating greater credibility. For instance, a homeowner planning to sell his house can upload a room to room walkthrough video for prospective buyers to get a detailed view of the house.”
At present, the QR code service is offered for all classified adverts and enjoys a national reach with each classifieds edition printed in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad/Rawalpindi. This adds more value and reach to the customers to showcase their product or service in an elaborate way.
Bringing Readers up to Pace
Introducing a new feature is just the first step, and Jang Group knows it all too well. A rigorous advertising campaign has been launched to raise consumer consciousness educating consumers on how to use the QR codes with a stepwise description of the process. The audience is being engaged at every level through tutorial videos and blogs posted online; brochures, leaflets, and posters placed with authorized booking agents, and special half-page ads in the newspaper.
Local and Global Reaction
According to Mr. Sarmad, “The efforts are paying off as consumers are responding well to this new feature with average 120 – 150 ads being published every Sunday with QR codes with scans amounting to 60,000.”
He further added, “International media associations have also recognized and reported about our QR campaign in their publications and the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) has awarded Jang Media Group the Asian Media Award for this initiative.”
JANG REAL APP: WATCHING TV ON NEWSPAPER THROUGH CELLPHONES
Yes, you read it right. Now you can read the headline news story in Jang Newspaper and watch the corresponding coverage on Geo News, the corporation’s news channel using the second innovation by Jang Media Group: the Jang Real application. Available to Android and iOS users, this app, based on the technology of Augmented Reality, merges digital information with real-time environment, integrating the print news story with its electronic counterpart.
Although Augmented Reality has been used for advertising purposes all around the globe, Jang Media Group is the first to introduce this technology for news and editorial purposes through its newspapers in Pakistan, becoming pioneers of yet another cross-platform media tool.
If anyone believes that using such technology-driven interfaces are not easy to handle, it is important that they download the Jang Real app. It is extremely convenient to use and interesting to experience and makes the newspaper readership interactive and live, exactly what a reader today demands.
The Method to the Magic
So how does it all work?
Mr. Sarmad Ali explained, “All the headlines being published in a newspaper are finalized by 1:30 am in the morning. The corresponding news being aired on Geo News is then collected, and by 4 am the two are linked together on the app. When the reader receives the newspaper, all is set in place”.
“You can pick up any edition of Jang Newspaper and see that the relevant augmented headlines have registered markers placed at its four corners”, he shared. “Once a smartphone with the Jang Real app open on the screen is pointed over the headline, the app automatically scans it and opens up the video coverage of the news”.
The technology works by having your phone’s camera recognize the tracker on the newspaper which then places a digital video box where the tracker is and it seems that the video is playing on the paper through the mobile phone. Since the tracker position is updated real-time through the camera, moving the paper results in the video box moving with it giving the impression that the video is playing on paper.
There is more on offer with additional tabs at the bottom of the screen which lead the viewer to the online version of the news story and provide direct access to Jang e-paper of the day, where other stories of the day can be read and viewed. Readers can further comment or give opinions as well as read the op-ed columns about the particular news story.
“Currently, only the main headline is being augmented. Our plan is to augment more headings, even ads in the newspaper.”
Registering the App
Since the idea was novel, it was important to have it registered amongst the masses. For this, a campaign was designed that clearly laid out the steps to use Jang Real. The informative print ad, engaging TVC and compelling web banners lead to the tutorial of how to use the innovation that is new to the Pakistani audience.
Elaborates Mr. Sarmad, “Once the mechanism seeped in, the app downloads started to gain momentum as everyone wanted to try out how newspapers came to life. We used the markers as a sign for augmentation. Be it the news or ads, the readers now know that the parts of the newspaper with markers are augmented”.
Ad-opting Augmented Reality
The initiative, still being in its nascent phase, is generating revenue from the thirty seconds adverts which appear just before the reader can watch the news. “We, however, plan to introduce the option of augmented advertisements soon”, shared Mr. Sarmad Ali, “which would mean that the ad published in the newspaper can be scanned by the user to watch its electronic counterpart carrying more details than the print version.”
Since launched at the beginning of March 2016, the app has been downloaded over 60,000 times, with Android downloads exceeding that of iOS. On the other hand, around 40,000 scans are carried every day on an average, which the media giant considers a success based on the fact that the entire concept is still in its nascent phase.
With its two latest campaigns, Jang Media Group claims to have embarked on an endeavor to change the print media landscape of Pakistan, sending out a strong message that print is still alive. It seeks to transform the newspaper platform into a more animated and dynamic medium and only time will tell if Pakistani readership is willing to embrace the change.