The MZ-media company from Mindelheim, Germany, combines the look & feel of its printed products with interactive Augmented Reality elements ("AR").For the implementation, the company uses genARate - an innovative AR platform from Konica Minolta, with which stunning and interactive experiences can be created simply by drag-and-drop without any programming knowledge.
With the Mindelheimer Zeitung, the media house publishes a typical regional daily newspaper. The circulation is around 14,000 copies, the sales area is in Unterallgäu, a county south Germany. The daily newspaper has been published since 1881 and is now run in the fifth generation by the Högel family. Since the 1950s, there has been close cooperation with the Augsburger Allgemeine Newspaper, which contributes to the editorial section and is also responsible for printing. Despite digitization, the print run has remained relatively constant over the past few years, and of course, the offer has also been expanded to include the Internet and social media. In addition to the daily newspaper, the MZ-media company publishes several weekly newspapers, magazines, and books with a strong regional focus.
The changes in the media landscape are forcing the entire industry to rethink the traditional business and break new ground. By connecting the digital and analog world, managing director Johannes Högel sees opportunities to increase print products' attractiveness and address younger target groups. As part of this discussion, the readers of an illustrated book came up with the idea of expanding the content of books using multimedia.
“Even a traditional media company needs an innovation story. And here Augmented Reality is a promising approach to get readers and customers excited about print again."
- Johannes Högel, Managing Director at MZ-media
“We produced an illustrated book, and many readers contacted us and wanted to know where individual photos were taken. So it was actually obvious to make this information available via an augmented reality app, ”says technical manager Peter Ruf, describing the first touchpoints with the topic of AR. A QR code would also have been a possible approach, but this would have been more of a visual disruption in a high-quality illustrated book.
Peter Ruf came across genARate accidentally. Using a free demo version, he got first insights and recognized the potential of the Konica Minolta solution - and not only in the book sector but for the entire product range, including advertising formats enriched with augmented reality.
The company is currently in an intensive test phase and is exploring the possibilities of genARate, whereby the first concrete projects have already been successfully completed. This includes, for example, the illustrated book Allgäu in Miniature, which stages sights in miniature photography and is enriched with AR elements. “We also gave the book away to our advertising partners for Christmas, and the reaction was sensational,” says Johannes Högel, summarizing the first experiences.
The publishing house has found another innovative application for genARate as the organizer of a virtual training fair. A journal was published for the fair, in which young people found tips for a successful application, among other things. The around 70 exhibitors had the opportunity to present themselves in the fair journal and use Augmented Reality to incentivize further visiting the trade fair. “The target group between 14 and 18 years of age is particularly interesting for us as a media company. With Augmented Reality, we can bridge the gap between print and digital, ”emphasizes Högel, and thus the fair journal became the ticket for a visit to the virtual trade fair.
Scanning a print product with the genARate app brings content to life, and the app also provides interactive multimedia and web experiences. A wide variety of content such as audio files, videos, animations, or 3D renderings can be integrated. In addition to the app, the genARate platform offers a web-based studio tool that easily creates such experiences and applications using drag-and-drop without programming knowledge. This is also confirmed by Peter Ruf, who anchors Augmented Reality in the prepress stage. “Our employees have the necessary skills to create an exciting experience with just a few mouse clicks. genARate did convince us, particularly in terms of usability of the studio and the integrated back-end. "
The use of the app and the interaction with the content can be tracked via integrated analysis functions. No personal data is recorded so that you are on the safe side with regard to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Konica Minolta offers the AR solution as a hosted SaaS model (Software-as-a-Service) with three different price models that differ in functionality and the number of scans included.
"Monetization is fundamentally an important topic, but we do not focus on it in connection with augmented reality," says Johannes Högel. "We are at the beginning of an exciting development and are currently testing the possibilities." It is essential to anchor augmented reality in the minds of readers so that it becomes a fixed component of media consumption. That is why the managing director also welcomes the widespread use of AR, for example, in connection with advertising inserts in German retail. "Every successful application helps us to positively charge the topic of augmented reality and thus make it a learned and established application."
“Even a traditional media company needs an innovation story. And here Augmented Reality is a very promising approach to get readers and customers excited about print again”, explains Johannes Högel. Advertisers from tourism, trade, and industry are impressed by the extensive possibilities - the app is not branded and can be used neutrally. He adds: “genARate's potential is far from being exhausted. We are in close contact with Konica Minolta to provide valuable input for the further development of the platform.” In the next step, Johannes Högel can imagine the integration of augmented reality into everyday editorial work.