With client brands always wanting to stand out and reach their customer in as many ways as possible, content marketing embraces new technology quicker than most. Already old hands at social media and mobile content, agencies are now looking to use the latest innovations to give their clients more distribution channels and wow-factor content. These are just a handful.

Near-field communication
With eight out of the ten most popular smartphones now built with near-field communication (NFC) as standard, the technology is set to revolutionise the way consumers interact with marketing and how they pay for goods. It works by transferring data between a microchip embedded in an outdoor advert or printed page and a smartphone. The user simply taps their device against whatever’s holding the chip and data can be transferred – usually a URL. What this means for brands is that they can connect with their customers in the right place (the store) at the right time (when the customer is thinking about purchase), again bridging the gap between the printed page and the digital arena.

Augmented reality
You will have heard all about augmented reality – the accessing of online content via a smartphone held over a magazine page ¬¬¬– but the emergence of reliable 4G networks will make this process quicker and easier. Like other bridging technologies such as QR Codes, augmented reality moves the consumer smoothly from the print to the online environment, allowing your brand to spend more time with your customers and adding data capture and digital sales to the previous print-only relationship.

Netpage is an app that allows a magazine user to save PDFs of printed content on their smartphone before sharing it via social media. Offering interactivity without changing the print design, the app gives readers an opportunity to Tweet a piece of editorial as soon as they see it, rather than try and search online for the same piece, content that may not be posted until days after the issue’s publication date – if at all. For brands investing in their own magazines, this is a great opportunity to have their customers distribute key pieces of editorial themselves, adding the vital element of recommendation while they do it.

The concept of embedding video technology within the pages of a glossy magazine has long been a dream of publisher and advertiser alike, but with Marie Claire carrying the UK’s first video-in-print ad last year, that dream may be getting closer. The small video screen and speaker are driven by a small chip and activated by the reader opening the page. Quality of both video and audio are good, with surprisingly long pieces of content able to be played (the D&G ad in Marie Claire lasted 45 seconds.) There’s no denying it’s expensive, but fusing print and video in this way is a must-see experience for any consumer, a memorable experience any right-thinking brand would want to provide.

Digital personalisation
OK, so getting a magazine with your name on the cover may be a little creepy, but what if the publication gave you vital business insights entirely specific to your company and sector? That’s what Google AdWords did recently with a print DM campaign to boost the effectiveness of the receiver’s online marketing. Google took what they knew about each company and created a bespoke publication for them, showing the current state of their AdWords campaign and how Google could improve it. It used data and digital printing to gain a toehold in the reader’s mind, promoting both their service and their expertise in a small, 12-page booklet. The moral is, if you have reliable and up-to-date data on your customers, use it to provide something useful and memorable.

Sam Upton