Meredith Aims for Millennials With Augmented Reality

Mobile app draws from parenting brands

Augmented reality and mobile technology are two major trends in digital content, and a new app from Meredith Corp. combines them both.

The free Mom+ parenting app, available via the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, lets readers get exclusive content on their smartphones by scanning icons in the print editions of Parents, American Baby, FamilyFun and Ser Padres magazines with their mobile devices. Current extras include a beauty buying guide from Parents, sunscreen how-to video in American Baby and photo gallery in FamilyFun. There’s also a video from Kraft Singles, the app's launch sponsor. The app was developed with mobile marketing firm Nellymoser.

In the past two years, Meredith has seen a doubling of smartphone ownership among millennial moms, which led it to experiment with augmented reality. Yet despite millennials' embrace of technology, said Carey Witmer, evp, president of the Meredith Parents Network, the company hasn’t seen an erosion in its print readership. “I don’t know anyone who has ditched print altogether,” she said. “We see a very stable base of print readers.”

The product shows how magazine publishers have experimented with new app formats since the iPad was introduced three years ago, when most were just replicating their print editions. Increasingly, titles like New York and Fortune are blending Web and magazine content.

The Mom+ app has been available for a few weeks, and while Witmer declined to reveal how many times it has been downloaded, she said she's encouraged to see 25,000 entries to a sweepstakes that require the app.

That may be a small figure given that Meredith is a scale play (the Parents Network boasts that it delivers 36 million consumer touch points per month). But the app provides lessons as Meredith looks to roll out the model for brands like Better Homes and Gardens and Every Day with Rachael Ray. The app also encourages consumer interaction with print, which still provides the bulk of magazines' revenue.