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Brand identity as a mobile trigger

Apr 1, 2011 12:00 AM

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Los Angeles-based Warbasse Design CEO and art director Philip Warbasse recently announced an important shift in integrated media, based on his firm's partnership with machine vision company WiMO Reality. Warbasse is known for integrating printed 2-D codes with mobile web applications in projects such as Disney's “TRON Legacy” and HBO's “True Blood” (see “Quick Response,” July 2010). This new alliance brings image recognition technology to the firm's offerings for mobile advertisers.

Any image can be a mobile trigger

WiMO Reality has a unique platform: Its proprietary marker uses image recognition and optical character recognition (OCR) technology. With it, WiMO can offer creative solutions for improving the aesthetics of mobile triggers vs. the QR Codes and other 2-D codes we have come to know. Image recognition technology goes beyond the black-and-white checkerboards that, regardless of content, look very similar. Advertisers can now differentiate themselves by incorporating their own, unique identities into their mobile triggers.

Everything can be clicked

QR Codes and the other types of 2-D codes are limited to the X and Y axes. What if you could scan a real-world, three-dimensional object? WiMO brings a completely new perspective to how users will be able to interact with brands, which will deliver content directly from materials in the real world.

Warbasse Design is developing the back end, or engine, of mobile campaigns. Through the use of multiple platforms, they offer the necessary depth to branch out and reach a broader audience.

For example, informational filters can be used to develop a platform where, let's say, scanning a head of lettuce delivers multiple results: where it was grown, its nutritional content, salad recipes and more creative content. The WiMO app's proprietary browser and media player have interactive video capability, so imagine where all of this could go from there.

Beyond Google Goggles

Scanning real-world objects for interactive content is nothing new — Google Goggles enables it. WiMO's image recognition is more sophisticated. The primary difference is that Google Goggles is based on a search within its engine. The WiMO method ties in all kinds of databases and can be specific to a user's location. Its approach to analytics gives brands a greater understanding of their customers, providing the ability to target content geographically and demographically.

Warbasse Design and geolocators

Warbasse Design and sister company Plush Mobile Servers are working in conjunction with WiMO Reality to develop mobile platforms that will create a unique user experience based on things like geolocation, phone type and opt-in information filters. The platforms will point users to stores offering discounts based on their specific location.

This will be achieved by developing multiple platforms that separate campaigns within a major brand. Warbasse plans to launch several options this spring that will make brand recognition a viable alternative to 2-D codes by providing more in-depth analytics. According to Warbasse, mobile analytics are the most integral — and often under-emphasized — part of a mobile marketing campaign.

Geolocators and variable campaigns

Geolocators are one of a handful of platforms Warbasse Design will use to deliver unique experiences and offerings. In this example, a geolocator indicates where the item is physically scanned, thus determining what type of content should be delivered. For example, a user who scans a Coca-Cola advertisement (or a can of Coke, for that matter) in Paris could have a different experience than someone who scans the exact same thing in New York. The action referenced in Paris has a specific location based on longitude and latitude, which is different from the location in New York. That physical location can be referenced in the database and programmed to return a different experience than the result users experience elsewhere.

It's all about the back end

“Brand recognition does not hold a lot of weight until you can address a larger audience,” says Warbasse. “And it's the back end where you can really do something. By employing image and brand recognition we can focus on the back end and get over the hurdles of brand identity quickly. Then, we can move on to what we really do best, which is creating engaging mobile experiences.”

To put it another way, the back end is what drives the whole process. For example, a 2-D code could be used much the same as the image recognition model I've explained above. The same engine — using geo-locations, phone type, opt-in information filters, etc. — could power a 2-D code campaign, and the overall process would look very similar.

The obvious (and intentional) choice for Warbasse is image recognition, because it dramatically reduces the time to market. A typical, designer QR Code campaign could take up to a month to create and even more time to implement. Using the Coke example, the campaign creator would be starting from square one. In addition to creating artwork, designing a code and developing the print collateral, etc., the can itself would need to be reproduced to include the designer 2-D code, which is no quick task. On the other hand, an image technology campaign can be turned in as little as one day because the can is scannable and, more importantly, it already exists.

A natural progression

Creating designer 2-D codes can be an exhausting process, because the codes must be tested to ensure they work on a broad spectrum of devices and readers. However, Warbasse sees the image recognition technology as a natural progression, not as a replacement to 2-D codes. He says, “Ultimately, we think image recognition will be a preferred a choice for advertisers who wish to leverage their unique mark.”

How it works

First, download the WiMO Reader app to your smartphone. For example, on my Android, I launched the “Market” and searched for “WiMO,” which returned a result for the WiMO Reader. You can download it directly from

Try it out

Using your mobile phone, launch the WiMO app and scan this AP logo. The image recognition technology will direct you to AP's Facebook page.

Find it online

Read these and more articles about capturing mobile opportunities for print products at

  • “QR Codes 101,” February 2011
  • “Black-and-white & read all over,” February 2011
  • “Print adapts to the wireless age,” February 2011
  • “QR Codes vs. MS Tags: let the code war begin,” April 2011
  • “Big events,” October 2010
  • “Quick Response: the road ahead for QR Codes,” July 2010
  • “Hold the phone for QR Codes,” April 2010

Chris Lehan is director of product development for Impressions Inc. (, a family owned printing and packaging company in St. Paul, MN. Contact him at