Kooaba Makes Print Ads Digital for iPhone and Android

November 12, 2009

In the latest issue of Wired (US Edition) the magazine has teamed up with Kooaba to provide a new advertising experience. By downloading an iPhone or Android app the reader can take snaps of interesting adverts and get access extra content.

Kooaba uses image recognition which makes it possible for the user to simply take a photo with their phone which is then uploaded to the Kooaba server to be analyzed and matched against a particular print advert. It sounds pretty cool in theory and it did the job in recognizing the sample of adverts I tested. It’s however still early days and I currently have a few issues with the execution:

  1. You need to download a separate app to make it work in the first place
  2. The iPhone app is a bit sluggish and uploading to the server takes a while
  3. The content I was offered for my efforts was very limited (a bookmark and the ability to tweet the link), and a poorly optimised website for mobile usage
  4. Since it’s a brand new concept there’s no way to know what other ads are supported (although Wired had an index in their issue)

The technology have some conceptual similarities to the very popular music recognition application Shazam. However, whereas Shazam is fulfilling a very real need, the Kooaba app currently lacks a strong consumer incentive.

My above reservations to the app are possibly quite easily fixed (at least the technical ones), and I’m sure that getting the app pre-installed in phones is merely about negotiations. These fixes coupled with more widespread usage and awareness could make it a quite potent tool to track the journey from offline to online.

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November 13, 2009 at 2:45 pm

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Herbert Bay November 13, 2009 at 2:07 pm

Dear Magnus. Thanks for the review of our application in collaboration with the WIRED magazine. I am co-founder and CEO of kooaba and am always looking for such constructive feedback to improve our application.
In general, we are linking objects in the real world to digital information on the Internet through images. We are not creating the content on the Web, we are just linking the object to pre-existing content delivered by our customers. We are constantly working on improving the mobile app and the recognition speed and you will be seeing some great progress soon. However, our customers decide about the content behind the link. Many companies are not yet fully into mobile Web and the like. Therefore, it is sometimes difficult to meet the user’s expectations with the content available from our customers. For the interactive print case with WIRED, we are aiming at hyperlinking also editorial content to related videos, pod casts, interaction forms, etc. on the Web. However, this is not always simple given the strict copyright issues in the US. We are working on providing maximum user experience with our service. Please stay tuned and let us know about your opinion.

Thanks
Herbert Bay

Magnus November 13, 2009 at 2:35 pm

Hi Herbert

I appreciate your response and think your service is something that many advertisers will wan’t to trial to improve their campaign trackability and interaction. Regarding the content quality i’d imagine that once you’ve gathered momentum it will be a lot easier to get the right content of advertisers that will make consumers go “wow, this is really useful!”.

Looking forward seeing what the future holds for Kooaba.

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