Balfour, the Texas company behind most of the nation’s varsity letter jackets and high school yearbooks, may be responsible for a new catchphrase, interactive memories. The company is piloting a new program that utilizes QR codes in high school yearbooks. That photo of the championship touchdown pass can now become a video of that touchdown pass with a mere scan of a QR Code. Balfour will be hosting the interactive content on their securely-hosted digital platform, BAL4.TV.
Targeting new technology to the youth of our nation is a no-brainer. From the beginning of time, students have been early adopters of new technology— just ask any teacher who has had to contend with a Nintendo DS or text messages. What we might label “testing new platforms,” teenagers consider merely “living their lives.”
The publishing industry is in large part responsible for the spread of QR Code usage. Finding new, exciting ways to engage readers is it’s bread and butter.
“The publishing industry has always led the way in delivering robust content to niche audiences in digital formats, and publishing yearbooks is no different,” said Alyce Alston, President and CEO of Balfour and a former magazine executive. “Balfour is enriching the traditional yearbook experience by bringing sight, sound and motion together and delivering those special memories in formats that are clearly more relevant and in demand by our consumers.”
Balfour is piloting its BAL4.TV platform with current 2011 yearbook customers, allowing schools to experiment with the technology for free. The BAL4.TV platform claims to be simple to use and allows for secure hosting and streaming of school videos from associated QR Codes for up to 30 years. Balfour plans to roll out the platform to all of its customers for the 2011-2012 school year.
“Balfour is delivering on the promise of technology by providing the interactivity that students crave, while securely hosting and monitoring any web content that might present itself through a school publication,” added Alston.
“Imagine a yearbook photo of the winning touchdown springing to life -- the race to the goal line, the roar of the crowd, the fight song playing– all from the pages of your yearbook,” said Amy Katzenberg, Digital Revenue Officer for Balfour. “Now imagine watching that over-and-over again…at your 20 year class reunion.”
While potential applications for QR Codes in yearbooks are limited only by the imagination, the opportunity to sell advertisements with the codes is a head-turner for many schools: a multi-media ad, sold at even a slightly higher price than a standard print ad, could help generate additional revenue.
In the publishing world, content may be king- but advertisements are god; without ad sales, publications disappear into the ether. This truth encompasses everything from The New York Times to the local high school yearbook. If QR codes can effectively provide an enhanced user experience while concurrently increasing ad sales then widespread adoption across all media outlets is only a matter of time.
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