QR (quick response) codes, which have been around for years, are shortcuts used to make accessing websites with mobile devices easier. Now QR codes have been completely outdone by the newest twist on scanable objects. No longer must designers include an ugly black and white box in their designs. Now they can make almost any object a scanable blipp. Blipps are scanned using a mobile app named Blippar to unlock myriad user experiences such as playing a game, downloading recipes, providing additional product information and more. In technical parlance, these additional experiences are known as augmented reality.
The graphic elements that the app locks onto and scans are usually imperceptible to humans. This means that virtually any object can have a blipp associated with it. It also means, however, that users often have to be told that an image or product label may be scanned.
A highly sought-after market segment – teen girls – was masterfully accessed via a blipp in the form of a poster of teen idol Justin Bieber. Once fans scanned the poster using Blippar they could take a virtual selfie with him. Millions of teenagers took advantage of the opportunity, which, by the way, also helped boost sales of Beiber’s newest album.
Trade Show Signs
A colleague of mine who builds trade show displays said blipps are being used extensively on booth graphics. Almost any digital enhancement conceivable can be added to a static image to engage people on a higher level. One display with a New York City theme contained a blipp that, when scanned, started playing Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” on users’ cell phones. Another offered an opportunity to be entered in a raffle for a free iPad, but the required contact information had to be entered before the user left the booth’s perimeter. And once the visitor left the booth, he/she received a text message encouraging him/her to return for a free pass to an after-hours party.
Calls To Action
The biggest hurdle to date has been getting users to download the app. A close second is awareness of blipps.
As Blippar gains acceptance and users expect blipps to be included on packaging and pages, Blippar CTAs (calls to action) will likely become less conspicuous. For now, however, many blipps that designers intend for us to scan are made obvious with printed instructions and Blippar icons (see photo above). Eventually, Blippar executives anticipate that subtler icons like those we associate with Facebook and Twitter will be enough to entice action.
Creating Blipps with Blippbuilder
In the beginning, Blippar imagined it would create blipps for clients and in doing so would further monetize its Blippar marketing channel. Later, Blippar decided to create an easy-to-use, DIY tool, Blippbuilder, so that laypeople could create blipps and add them to their content.
Hope for the Printing Industry
Blippar is great news for printers who see the app as a way to keep their medium relevant in an increasingly digital world. Blippar executives have learned that CTAs need to be adjusted a little for newspapers and magazines. The Blippar website explains further:
Because print is a little bit different to products and packaging, we’ve made a unique CTA specifically for magazines and newspapers, reminding people to fill the Blippar app with the WHOLE page, not just the CTA. We’ve also included some advice about where to include different types of CTAs throughout the publication in order to get the largest number of interactions possible…
We see Blippar as having great marketing potential, but it has yet to be fully proven. Will it be just a passing fad, like QR codes, or will it gain popularity as people see its potential? We’re not sure, but we have downloaded the app, and, as Blippar executives have noted, that’s the highest hurdle to acceptance.