Times Group bridges the offline and online with Alive

Back in March 2010, I had blogged about a trend that was just catching on, at that time. The last sentence went,

I suppose what we do with the power of interactivity is more important than adding interactivity in the first place, like this Ford Figo ad demonstrates.

The Times Group seems to have learnt this well. Today’s The Times of India has 2 instances where they bridge the print medium with interactive medium. No, not with a conventional QR code (which would have worked too, I’m sure), but with a native app developed by Indiatimes – called Alive.

The content that one gets to see once you instal the app and scan the relevant portion seems straight out of Arnab’s show on Times Now, bt I see that the publication has chosen two extremes to demonstrate their new app.

The front page one goes for the heart – a rather obvious and sentimental video clip showing the family of Jacinta Saldanha in mourning. It seems a bit manipulative, but if news television channels can do this, day in and day out, I see no reason why this app can’t ‘utilize’ this moment too. Considering we’re talking about The Times of India here, I’m not going to waste a perfectly juicy #outrage on something so obvious. The content is in bad taste, but that does not mean it is boring – I’m sure the Times sees value in adding the Alive slot for such a story – the app version of their (and most other news channel’s) TV stories.

Page 11 has a less manipulative, more practical news piece to bridge print and interactivity – Rehman Malik making a <unmentionable> of himself. It seemed more like a video recap of Mr.Malik’s notoriety and was completely in context of the article that had this Alive box. In fact, this one actually extends the value of what is in print, with an interactive clip.

The app worked smoothly and in my home wi-fi, the video loaded mighty fast too.

This is an interesting and commendable move by the Times Group. I’m sure they’d have excellent traction for the app install and video plays given that they have listed it on page 1 on a Sunday! The opportunities with this seems massive – imagine, something that is added as an exclusive. Or, a contest for a brand.

Or, let me take it beyond print – why not get Salman Khan to pause momentarily after a particularly rigorous and crowd-pleasing dance step in Dabangg 3, ask him to look into the eye of the audience and let him say, ‘Abey, dekh kya raha hai? Mere haath ko tere smartphone se scan kar aur tweet kar… abhi!

No, seriously! I like the possibilities this enables. This is what QR codes were expected to do, but I’m hoping with Times Group putting its muscle behind something like this, such interactive tactics may become more mainstream and offer more tantalizing ways to connect the offline and online.



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