Magazine/Cameraphone Ad - "Cross-platform" usability...

This is a photo of an ad I encountered in the print edition of Newsweek recently, where the reader is encouraged to recruit good volunteers for Big Brothers / Big Sisters by (1) taking a cameraphone photo of the orange square on the page, and (2) sending that image to a friend who'd fit the role well. Besides rating high on the "cute" factor (note the aiming aids to the left and right of the target area, and the reminder to adjust your zoom), this is actually an ingenious usability idea by the advertiser. Most magazine ads require a reader to cross platforms - that is, they have to remember (or clip) something from the printed magazine, and then either make a phone call or look up a website. This design enables the reader to leap nimbly from the magazine to the sent photo message, without having to remember anything, or even cobble together a unique message to the friend. That lowered barrier could definitely make a difference in the number of people who go through with the whole routine!

The next step: smartphones which can identify the "" URL in the photo, and make that portion of the image a clickable link. Technology can do it, if designers can just think of it!

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