Analysis of Print Ads with Mobile: Part 3

Bryce MarshallMore and more print ads are using mobile calls to action to engage readers. Within the May issue of Wired, I’m taking time out here in the Lunch Pail to dig deeper into the experience provided by four major brands that used mobile calls to action in their ads. (Check out my previous analysis of Volkswagen and Kohler) Next up: Buick.

Buick steps outside the box

There’s a lot to like about Buick’s 2-page spread for the Buick Regal Turbo. Buick is clearly trying to update their brand image to appeal to younger buyers. To bring this point home, Buick leverages Google Goggles as their mobile response technology. At the bottom right of the ad is a subtle Goggles icon. Just below the icon in the bottom right border of the ad is a refreshingly clear call-to-action statement: “Unlock this ad’s interactive features.
Photograph this entire ad with Google Goggles on Android or iPhone.” I’m excited that Buick is experimenting with mobile response methods beyond 2D barcodes, SMS, or mobile URLs. But knowing that this process (and Google Goggles itself) may be unfamiliar to some users, they provide explicit instructions (though I would have liked to see a short statement on the need to download Google Goggles from the Android or iPhone app stores).

Google Goggles is a nice tool, though I’m not sure how many day-to-day consumers are familiar with how it works. Essentially it’s a visual search tool: when you use Goggles app to scan an image of anything, it kicks off a Google search based on image recognition. In essence Buick is asking users to use Goggles to recognize the print ad, and direct the user the matching information, which happens to be Buick’s mobile web site for the campaign.

Here’s the price of experimentation though. First users must scan the entire print ad for this to work. In order for the Goggles app to scan the entire 2-page ad, you have to hold the phone a good 2-3 feet above the ad. This is problematic if the magazine is sitting on your lap. I had to set the magazine flat on a table, stand up, and hold my phone at chest-level in order for this to work.

Once Goggles has recognized the print ad, the app brings up the search results based on that image. Fortunately for Buick, the first search result is the link to the mobile-optimized site (at right) for the campaign. But there are more problems. Don’t hold your phone high enough above the magazine to scan the entire ad? Goggles also recognizes parts of the ad, and the search results are different. In one case Goggles recognized only the headline in the ad, and the search results took me to a Google page with dozens of results most with links to Buick’s standard, non-mobile website. When I first scanned the entire ad with Goggles, the app listed two additional search results below the link to Buick’s web page – and neither result was anything Buick wanted to be a part of. We must remember that Goggles is a visual search engine, and apparently Buick cannot (or did not want to) limit results to only the intended destination. This is a bit of an issue.

Buick gets high marks for creating the best mobile web destination among these 4 examples discussed in this series. The site is very tied-in with the campaign, offers 3 short videos for effective but quick engagement opportunities, and a single CTA to “discover more” which links to the Regal’s product page on, where an interested user can view additional details and find a dealer. Nice work.

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