LITTLE ROCK The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette is launching a new application called PLUS that will allow readers to view videos directly from the print edition of the paper by using their smart phones or tablets, starting July 1.
“It is used to bring parts of the newspaper to life with animation,” said Conan Gallaty, online director at the newspaper. “It’s a great way for readers to find out more information.”
The Democrat-Gazette is the second newspaper in the country to use the app, said Nat Lea, vice president and general manager of the newspaper’s Little Rock-based editions.
“We believe strongly in the need to find ways to improve the paper and the coverage of what we believe are important events in Arkansas,” Lea said.
The Philadelphia Inquirer uses a similar app for its Sunday edition, according to Aurasma, a division of Hewlett-Packard that produces the app.
By using the Democrat-Gazette PLUS app, readers can unlock exclusive content by hovering the camera of their mobile device over a picture in the paper, said Lauren Offers, director of marketing for Aurasma.
“When it recognizes something, it triggers a digital memory creating a gateway to the digital world,” she said.
The Democrat-Gazette PLUS app is available for free from the App Store for the iPhone 3GS and above - and for iPad 2 and newer - and at Google Play for Android devices that run version 2.2or higher.
Readers can search for “Plus Arkansas” to find the app.
After the downloading the app, readers can scan photos and advertisements with the PLUS logo and watch videos by holding their devices above the printed item.
When scanning a photo, the mobile device has to be directly above and in line with the picture. Videos can be enlarged to fit the screen of the device being used by double clicking the video.
“We love this technology because it allows people to view multiple video files and multimedia quickly without having to go to a computer,” Gallaty said. “There will be a lot of content to add to the newspaper and we think it will be compelling.”
Video content will show events such as sports, action from the police beat or images with feature stories.
The Democrat-Gazette hopes to have four to five pictures in the news sections that will link to videos, Gallaty said. The length of the videos will vary, but most will range from a few seconds to a few minutes.
Since videos and web links can be updated at any time, the app also will allow readers the opportunity to go back to the printed newspaper later in the day to see an updated video or retrieve later information, Lea said.
Each video can offer multiple options to readers, Gallaty said. Once the video starts playing, links to related stories or videos may be offered and readers can share the video and story via social networking sites, such as Facebook.
Arkansas Life and Sync, two niche publications from the Democrat-Gazette, also will have interactive issues starting next month.
The PLUS app is not just limited to news stories.
“We also believe advertisers will take advantage of this and detail what their services are,” Gallaty said. “We are finding more companies producing more videos for their websites and YouTube to share with consumers - this allows them to put it in front of the readers.”
One of the primary functions of the app for advertising is that it will show up to four links in a video, allowing advertisers to link to a website or a phone number that will be dialed if clicked on, Gallaty said. This gives the user the ability to make an immediate purchase.
Scott Stine, advertising director for the newspaper, said companies will be able to use the app to explain more about their business or product.
“It gives their customer more details about their product when advertising in print,” he said.
For example, a car dealership will be able to have a print advertisement in the newspaper and a separate video that the advertisement launches.
Stine said advertisers will be able to supply their own video to be featured, or the newspaper can help them produce one if they do not already have a video.
Walter E. Hussman Jr., publisher of the Democrat-Gazette and president and chief executive officer of its parent company, WEHCO Media Inc., said he believes that advertisers will eventually be able to use the app to show information about their inventories and what they sell in stores.
“It allows advertisements to tell more than they can do in print alone,” he said. “The newspaper can become a guide to a lot more information.”
Offers, the Aurasma spokesman, said newspapers worldwide use the app to change how people interact with print newspapers and to make stories last longer by providing additional content.
John Morton, a Maryland based newspaper analyst, told the Democrat-Gazette in May that PLUS is one of the many ways newspapers will use mobile apps to generate content.
“Clearly, newspapers have to keep abreast of this stuff or they will wind up seeing a lot of their business taken away from them,” he said.
Lea said he thinks the app will become an important part of story-telling in the newspaper.
“I think it has potential to change how readers interact with a story,” he said.
Readers can try the new app in today’s paper by hovering their Aurasma-compatible smart phone or tablet over the picture showing the app in use.
Speaking of the app, Hussman said, “This can provide reader with more value. Advertisers with more value. To me, providing more value to readers and advertisers has got to be win-win.”
Front Section, Pages 1 on 06/19/2012
Print Headline: App bridges printed page, video for Democrat-Gazette’s readers