Times Internet, the digital arm of Times Group, has launched a self-service augmented reality platform via their mobile initiative Times Mobile. Called the Alive Studio, the platform is an extension of Alive, Times Internet’s augmented reality app that was launched over a year ago.
Alive Studio is a subscription-based service that will allow users to build augmented reality campaigns on their own and monitor them as well. With Alive Studio, Times Mobile is aiming to target brands, companies, publishers, media agencies as well as end users. The service offers a free trial, wherein one can try the platform out by building three campaigns that are valid for five days. Post that, it offers various packages ranging from Rs 15,000 for 1,000 scans valid for 30 days to Rs 5 lakh for 200,000 scans valid for 90 days. In terms of features, it offers pre-defined templates such as Video AR, WAP AR, ClickME AR, POLL AR, etc. It also offers an online dashboard that gives a summary of all campaigns, including reporting/ MIS tools that can be used to check effectiveness and analytics of those campaigns.
Talking to exchange4media, Ajay Vaishnavi, Director, Times Mobile said that over the last one year they realised that by having just an augmented reality app they were missing out on a large user base. “Though we have done really well by doing 200 campaigns in one year, we realised that we have a limited reach with this kind of model. That is why we decided to extend alive from being a restrictive in-house platform to an open one,” he explained.
Augmented reality is a new concept not only in emerging markets such as India, but in others markets as well. Augmented reality is the concept of superimposing virtual content (such as 3D graphics, videos, etc.) on top of a view of the real world. This is mainly done by imposing video and/or 3D content on an image; when one scans the image with the AR app, the video/ content linked to it can be viewed on the smartphone. Some of the earlier initiatives, apart from Times Internet’s Alive, have been the ARplus app that was launched by HT Media in January last year. Around the same time, Telibrahma also launched an AR platform, which was also aimed at publishers and advertisers.
Since the technology is in its nascent form, awareness seems to be a key challenge. Vaishnavi, however, is optimistic about the uptake. “Since we started Alive, we have seen a huge progress in the sector and it looks very promising,” he maintained.
On which industries or sectors would benefit from a platform such as Alive Studio, Vaishnavi said that the popularity of the technology cuts across sectors – from FMCG brands to real estate to movies. He also added that going forward, they will continue to do customised campaigns for brands via Alive. “We have observed that everybody has liked and appreciated AR in the industry. The industry is huge and we aim to reach a wider network of people,” he added.
Alive Studio’s popularity is also dependent on Alive app’s reach, since it is the most essential tool for the platform. “This is one of the challenges as well since the app’s number of downloads will play a huge role. We have done well in that area, but if we have reached 1 million now, we would like to reach 5 million or 10 million. The reach of the app is very critical,” Vaishnavi said.
The technology as such rides on the growing number of smartphones and increasing number of tech-savvy users who are willing to try something new. What doesn’t work in its favour is that firstly, it runs best on Wi-Fi and secondly, unless some great promotion has been done, it will take a huge amount of motivation for the user to scan the image and then view the content.