The New York Times gets into augmented reality with a new app
Publishers have been jumping on the virtual reality and 360-video bandwagon, but have been slower to harness its cousin, augmented reality.
That’s starting to change now, with The New York Times’ branded content arm, T Brand Studio, creating a project with IBM called “Outthink Hidden,” inspired by “Hidden Figures,” the Fox movie about African-American women working at NASA in the 1960s. The project launches inside the Times’ new app today, T Brand Studio AR, which is free on iTunes and Google Play.
The Times has been interested in AR for a while, but like a lot of emerging technologies, it requires expertise and is expensive. The Times had to wait until it acquired the agency Fake Love, which gave it the technical know-how, and the funding, which IBM brought.
For IBM, said Ann Rubin, vp of branded content and global creative, the project was a way to associate itself with the values of diversity and inclusion.
“VR is really amazing for immersing yourself in a piece of content, a story, a narrative,” said Josh Horowitz, one of the founders of Fake Love. “AR is interesting in that we’re still taking information that’s outside our environment and we’re applying it contextually to where we are in real time. It allows us to actually take information and apply it to decisions we’re making.”
The concept will be familiar to fans of Pokémon Go, the AR game that caught on last summer by encouraging people to roam around and “catch” Pokémon characters with their phones. The idea is to make a smartphone into a virtual museum to learn about lesser-known people in the STEM fields using 3D images, video, audio and text that’s activated by sensors.
Sebastian Tomich, svp of advertising and innovation for the Times, said that whereas VR requires the user to wear a headset and involves the virtual world, AR is appealing because of its real-world applications. He didn’t give specifics, but said it’s likely the Times will pursue more ad-supported AR projects around real estate or cultural events that have a physical presence.
But time will tell if the Times will get the ad support it needs to fulfill its AR ambitions. While AR has a lot of applications for editorial content and marketers, like VR, it’s expensive and hasn’t been widely adopted enough yet to convince brands to put money into it, said Dave Meeker, a vp at digital marketing agency Isobar, where he advises clients on emerging technologies.
“There’s not enough hardware in the consumer marketplace, not enough content,” Meeker said. “I need content to drive people to the hardware. I need hardware for brands. You need people to download the app.”
Parham Aarabi, CEO of ModiFace, a tech company that has created AR experiences for dozens of consumer products brands, said he’s working with publishers to avoid that friction by embedding AR experiences in websites or messaging apps. “There has to be limited friction. It has to be very easy to use,” he said.
‘We’re out there hitting the pavement’: Ad management firms scoop up sites ahead of cookie changes
Ad management platforms such as Cafe Media and Freestar have collectively gobbled up the rights to thousands of sites' ad inventory.
Browser makers, now including Mozilla’s Firefox, are already ditching Google’s proposed cookieless ad targeting method FLoC
Google's cohort-based tracking needs browser support to work, but browsers like Brave and Microsoft Edge can easily block its functionality.
‘It’s OK if someone wants to work 3 or 4 days a week’: How female news leaders are changing media culture for women
There's still a long way to go before the media workplace is a level playing field for men and women, but female news chiefs are pushing hard to change internal cultures.
SponsoredVideo: How employer rewards and incentives changed in 2020
The nature of employer rewards programs has transformed, accelerated by the events of 2020 — a year of sweeping change. Employees shifted to digital, their preferences moved to digital wallets and they asked for new and surprising ways to use the rewards their employers delivered. In these new interviews, employer rewards experts talk about the evolving […]
Cheat Sheet: What a ‘radical’ GOP antitrust bill that would kill big tech acquisitions has in common with the Democrats’ push for reform
Bipartisan momentum behind Sen. Josh Hawley’s antitrust bill is likely to be tepid, but it could spur more dialogue on anti-competitive behavior in an tech-ruled era.
Member ExclusiveMedia Briefing: How publishers are pushing podcasts to new audiences
Podcast listening has rebounded from an initial pandemic-induced dip. But publishers still have work to do to attract more people to their shows.