The Sydney Morning Herald and The Sun-Herald partner with MasterCard for the May launch of AirLink, its trademarked, groundbreaking iPhone technology.
It’s no understatement to describe May 18, 2012, as a momentous day for the Australian publishing industry.
That’s when The Sydney Morning Herald launched AirLink*, which the newspaper expects to be a game-changing technology that brings its newspapers to life.
AirLink is a bridge between an iPhone and the newspapers. It allows readers to scan a photo associated with a story in the newspaper, and to receive a video or extended photo gallery connected to that story. Developed in-house at Fairfax Media, AirLink is integrated into the existing Sydney Morning Herald smartphone app, and does not require users to download a third-party app.
AirLink also has the flexibility to include the latest news and multi-media from across the globe, even after press deadlines, giving Australian readers up-to-the-minute experience of their newspaper in a difficult time zone for breaking international news.
Unlike some augmented reality apps or QR code readers, the groundbreaking AirLink technology encourages print readers to treat Fairfax iPhone apps as companions that help enhance the news experience across print and mobile.
Fairfax Media’s AirLink officially rolled out in The Sydney Morning Herald on May 18 in partnership with launch advertiser MasterCard. A half-page wrap around the front page of the newspaper that day announced its arrival. The wrap featured an AirLink to a video of the Herald publisher and editor in chief, Peter Fray, welcoming readers to a newspaper of the future.
Fairfax creative manager for cross-platform, Zac Skulander, who helped develop the programme, believes AirLink has huge potential. He likens the technology to the magical newspapers in the world of Harry Potter: still images, news and feature stories come to life as video and then “talk” in real time. The technology is linked to up to 10 articles in each edition of two flagship Fairfax Media mastheads, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Sun-Herald.
Fray describes AirLink as a cutting-edge, audience-focused technology that allows Fairfax to fully integrate print and digital content, saying that AirLink bridges newspaper and mobile platforms. It provides a wealth of additional content to readers on their iPhones, providing an enriched experience of the newspapers “unlike anything they have seen before.”
Rick Gleave, mobile director for Fairfax Media, is just as excited: “AirLink is another example of how we are continuing to set the standard through constant investment and innovation in mobile technology.”
For advertisers, AirLink has opened new avenues to communicate with Fairfax’s discerning and affluent audiences. It provides additional opportunities to enhance a client’s print creative using video.
Ed Harrison, Fairfax Media Metro commercial cirector, says AirLink delivers on the company’s promise to provide advertisers with multi-platform, creative firsts: “Being able to offer television commercials and other forms of digital content via our newspapers opens up some really exciting possibilities for our advertisers.”
Four days after the official launch of AirLink, the Herald ratcheted the first commercial application up. MasterCard unveiled its AirLink newspaper advertising campaign as part of its “Priceless Sydney” launch — which provides unique, exclusive offers and experiences as well as privileged access to the best that Australia’s largest city has to offer.
Meanwhile, the MasterCard print campaign linked the Priceless Sydney ads to related video content, promoting an extended series of special Priceless Sydney events.
The first video on The Sydney Morning Herald app for iPhone showcased the “priceless” offers available, including sampling the city’s best restaurants and bars, and seeing the hottest designers, live concerts, and sports events.
“Sydney is the one of the first cities in the world to pioneer the MasterCard Priceless Cities programme, and it makes sense to partner with another first by becoming The Sydney Morning Herald’s launch partner for AirLink,” said Michelle Pilot, vice president/brand marketing at MasterCard Australia. “We see AirLink as a way to bring the Priceless Sydney programme to life. By taking a static print ad and offering an enriched experience through video, we give readers the opportunity to further engage with the programme.”
Mat Baxter, CEO of Universal McCann, echoed the support: “Fairfax's AirLink technology adds a highly interactive layer to print advertising. This is exactly the sort of innovation from publishers UM is looking for, and we're thrilled that one of our most progressive clients, MasterCard, has seen its enormous potential and chosen to be the launch partner in The Sydney Morning Herald.”
* AirLink and its related devices are trademarks of the Fairfax Media Group.