MINI Print Ad Drives Consumers Online

Expect to see more print ads like this in the future that require users to place a graspable medium in front of their computers' Web cam, resulting in an experience unlike anything I've seen.

The ad for MINI launched Nov. 28 in three German magazines: Auto, Motor und Sport, Werben & Verkaufen and Autobild.

Creative consists of three pictures that demonstrate the three steps needed to complete the transformation from print to online realms.

The print ad uses a technology created bymetaio called augmented reality in whichdigital content, such as 3D animations or movies, can be viewed in the real world in real-time. Munich-based agencies Buzzin Monkey and die agentour GmbH collaborated on the campaign.

Here's how the technology is activated. Consumers remove the print ad from a magazine, type in a URL online, then hold the ad in front of their Web cam.

What happens next is really amazing. The MINI convertible will appear in 3D on top of the Web page, making it appear that it's sitting atop of the ad the user is holding. When the user moves the print ad, the 3D MINI moves too, in real-time. Viewers can get a bird's-eye view of the front, back and interior of the car.

Now for the bad news. This only works on a PC; users need to install a 3D-plugin and activate their Web cam to experience augmented reality. In short, we're a ways away from instant gratification. However, metaio is working on an upgraded version of the technology that will run completely on Flash and cut out installation steps currently needed.

Augmented Reality technology, according to metaio, has existed on an academic level since 1990, but remains in early adoption mode for commercial use, having first been used in late 2006.

Book publishers, toy companies and car manufacturers have been quick to embrace the technology. While it's too early to determine how many people will interact with the ad, it's never to early for guesstimates.

A similar project conducted in the Netherlands for TV Magazine Totaal TV concluded that of all the readers that went to the site, 3% interacted with the technology. Getting more to play is the challenge. Judging by these campaign numbers, metaio estimates between 30,000 and 35,000 consumers will interact with the MINI ad.

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