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Campaigns Editor's pick technology

The New York Times launches AR campaign capability ahead of Winter Olympics

The New York Times' AR experience mobile editorial Team USA olympic games
The New York Times’ AR experience

The New York Times has launched its first ever in-article augmented reality campaign, spotlighting Team USA athletes ahead of the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, Korea.

Available within the publisher’s app, the feature allows users who are reading an Olympic-focused article to experience athletes in 3D by activating their phone cameras and pointing towards a flat surface. At key moments in the written story, the text fades to reveal an image of an athlete, including figure skater Nathan Chen and hockey goalie Alex Rigsby.

Walking around the 3D figures opens up new points of view and more information on their expertise. For instance, Austrian snowboarder, Anna Gasser, is featured executing a jump, which prompts the screen to encourage the user to walk the 60ft she travels, creating a physical idea of distance.

The experience is peppered with visual highlights that light up when the user walks around the virtual object. It’s a strong example of a brand nudging the consumer towards the behaviour of interacting with digital realities from a UX standpoint.

Graham Roberts, the publisher’s head of immersive storytelling, told AdWeek that it was imperative to develop an integrated approach that didn’t require downloading a different app or leaving an article to engage with – and thus, treating AR like any other piece of media consumers are used to interacting with. “There’s a whole language that needs to be learned on both sides, the producers and the consumers,” he said. “It’s almost like introducing the mouse for the first time; it’s a new way of interacting with something.”

The activation also includes a 3D view of ice dancers Alex and Maia Shibutani, sponsored by Ralph Lauren.

According to Jared van Fleet, director of new business at the publisher’s in-house experiential agency, Fake Love, the market for augmented reality within advertising is quickly picking up speed: “The first brands that we saw that were really excited to experiment were largely in categories like fashion or auto: brands that have premium physical products,” he said. “A lot of brands are starting to understand that they need to begin to build a strategy for how they’re going to communicate their brand in 3D, whether or not they’re B2B services or B2C physical products, in all kinds of forms.”

Van Fleet is also optimistic about what this means for consumer adoption of the technology: “When a brand with the distribution and credibility that The New York Times has gets into AR, we start to reach an audience that we haven’t really yet engaged with this technology. Any kind of new medium or technology is developed with iterations that take into account user behavior and understanding how people are responding.”

Working on this campaign was experiential agency Fake Love, who scanned the athletes for 3D rendering, and the publisher’s in-house content arm T Brand Studio, using Apple ARKit.

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business Comment Editor's pick

The big writers you should know about in #fashiontech

writers

I’m always asked how I do my research. Short of listing every event I go to, and speaking about how to network and maintain contacts, the easiest answer is almost always about reading.

On the right hand site of this site you’ll find a list of go-to sources for other entities covering either fashion or technology, and occasionally both. I curate the highlights of many of these through the digital snippets posts on Fashion & Mash each week.

But otherwise, I ensure I keep tabs on my fellow writers in this space too. I do so not only through their writing, but what they curate via their own social media channels. Here’s a breakdown of some names to know about:

Lauren Sherman

Perhaps the most prolific writer currently out there, Sherman became New York editor for The Business of Fashion in August 2015. She continues to write for a number of other outlets, and put us all to shame with a tweet on January 6 (third day back at work after the New Year) linking to, yes, her third big story of the year. She brings a fresh perspective to BoF, a wider stream of thought and more embracing view. She also curates a regular newsletter with other must-read articles, and produces a podcast with hubby Dan Frommer, who also happens to be tech editor over at Quartz.

Lauren Indvik

Former associate editor at Mashable, then editor-in-chief of Fashionista.com, Indvik has been bringing the worlds of business and technology together under the fashion heading since the early days of her career. She has recently ventured into the freelance world in a bid to get back to writing more again, so expect to see some great pieces popping up from her all over the shop.

Vanessa Friedman

It goes without saying that Friedman of The New York Times is a must-read. She continues to critique fashion as much as she provides a true business view on developments in the industry as varied how fashion week is shifting through to what she really thinks about wearable technology. Elizabeth Paton, who worked with her at the Financial Times and now serves as European Styles correspondent for the NY Times, based in London, is also one to follow. She too contributes to the newspaper’s On The Runway blog.

Hilary Milnes

As retail reporter at Digiday, Milnes churns out stories 10 to the dozen, varying from the likes of How Tiffany found its Twitter voice to Retailers spending 200% more on skippable YouTube ads. Her work is a credit to Digiday and its willingness to wholeheartedly cover the fashion and retail space as much as it does many other industries. Milnes’ in-depth coverage serves as one of the strongest resources for keeping on top of which brands are doing a good job in digital. She also only graduated in 2013.

Marc Bain

As fashion reporter at Quartz, Bain broadly covers the business side of the industry, with some great stories ranging from Bangladesh’s factories still being ‘death traps’ years after the Rana Plaza tragedy, to The huge underclass of ghost workers making shirts in their homes. He also has his finger on the pulse across things like endorsements, advertising and market movements. Another one ticking the ‘prolific’ box, and keeping us all updated in the process.

Adam Wray

If this list so far doesn’t give you enough to get through each day, then Adam Wray’s curation abilities will. He pulls together everything one absolutely must digest daily about the fashion industry in the Fashion REDEF newsletter – an absolute necessity to sign-up to if you haven’t already. It literally does what it says on the tin, providing you with a full daily understanding of what’s happening in fashion from every angle. His rantnrave section at the top is usually very entertaining too.

Also worth checking out:

  • Rachel Strugatz has held the position of digital news and features editor at WWD for some time, and continues to write in-depth analysis on the impact of social media on the industry, as well as exclusives on what US fashion brands like Rebecca Minkoff or Ralph Lauren are doing with digital.
  • As retail editor at Business Insider, Ashley Lutz reports on a large cross section of consumer goods companies (including fast food), but there’s a good sprinkling of fashion in there too.
  • Natalie Mortimer at The Drum is another one who covers a wide variety of subjects, including food and drink as well as broader retail, but more often than not, a strong dose of fashion. She gets some good UK exclusives too.
  • Kate Abnett is a more junior member of The Business of Fashion team, but the one curating many of the best fashion and tech stories for the site.
  • And if you’re into wearable technology, most of the team over at Wareable are also worth checking out. Features editor Sophie Charara does a great curation job via Twitter too.
  • Last but not least, keep tabs on everything I’m writing either here on Fashion & Mash, or via Forbes.
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Uncategorized

Gaming as fashion’s jackpot

H&M on Goldrun

There was a nice piece from The New York Times last week about how gaming can be applied to the fashion industry. It suggests e-commerce sites take inspiration from the likes of Angry Birds and Farmville, which welcome a total of three billion hours a week in play time.

It highlights initiatives from brands including Dunhill, Marc Jacobs and Jimmy Choo, and suggests point-scoring, scavenger-hunting, clock-countdowning ideas to engage with consumers and ultimately encourage loyalty.

This notion of brand gaming is something I’ve been reporting on for quite a while, not least because it’s been one of the most mentioned subjects alongside “mobile” and “location” at conferences around the world over the past year.

So here are some additional thoughts:

  • 200m of Facebook’s 500m+ users now log on to play games
  • Despite what might initially spring to mind, it’s not just for teenage boys – 71% of females aged 20-49 now play games, according to IGN Entertainment
  • The nature of gaming has changed. Where it was once a solitary bedroom activity for children, it’s now a shared experience – either with others online, or with the family in the living room space
  • Technology is allowing gaming to be more immersive – traditional controls are on the out, while social media and television are integrating too, said Jack Wallington, head of industry programmes at the IAB
  • Consumers are attracted by generating stats, gaining points and flattering their own egos, according to Joel Lunenfeld, CEO of ad agency Moxie Interactive – accordingly, by nature, gaming encourages greater loyalty
  • Foursquare co-founder Dennis Crowley said the theory behind his location-based social service is framed around incentivising via a game overlay. By “checking in” to different venues, users can gain various badges, which Crowley referred to as “digital candy”
  • Goldrun is another app worth looking at in this space. H&M ran a campaign designed to drive traffic and increase sales last November, where users in NY could hunt for virtual items, take a picture of them and in so doing, receive a 10% discount off their next purchase
  • Nike Grid is another example of brand gaming – athletes won points for running between phoneboxes and calling in to prove their achievements. Over 15 days last October, 12,500 miles were run across London, 62,000 phonecalls were made to the freephone hotline and 4,705 people liked the Grid on Facebook
  • Even Burberry’s Art of the Trench site could be considered to have somewhat of a gaming underlay. You go out, take a picture of yourself in your trench coat and wait to see if it’s deemed good enough to be posted online. If it’s not, what’s the betting numerous consumers go and try again – competition at its finest.