Allrecipes’ June/July issue, which hits stands this week, has QR-code enabled audio content sprinkled throughout. It’s the first time the magazine has used a SmartCode to unlock exclusive audio content, and helps home cooks connect with the brand across channels in fun, informative ways, said Jennifer Darling, editor-in-chief of Allrecipes. Thus far, Allrecipes has shared recipes from the website, and helping its readers shop for products using SmartCodes. Past SmartCodes have also led readers and consumers to video.
“Audio is the next logical step for us because Allrecipes is a community of people and they’re always talking through their ratings, reviews, recipes online, and we curate that in the magazine,” she said. “Actually hearing their voices was a really great step for our community.”
Audio content through SmartCodes allows Allrecipes to expand their offering within each issue, without having to increase the cost of their magazine, Darling explained. “It’s a great benefit to the reader and to us because we can tell more of a story by expanding with this information. It’s just being sure that your content is relevant to the reader.”
The voice behind the new content is Elise Mayfield, host of IGTV series “Smart Cookie.” Mayfield recorded six separate audio clips for the June issue, including one about her and a mix of funny things that introduce her personality, Darling explained. For example, there’s a SmartCode on the June issue editor’s letter, introducing Mayfield and the SmartCode-enabled audio content in the pages to follow. “We also wanted to share some cooking-related tips, so, she talks in one of the audio clips about muffins and how to make sure that you’re mixing them right.”
Incorporating multimedia elements into a print magazine is a fine balance, according to Darling.
Allrecipes’ magazine readers still enjoy their print experience, preferring to set set aside a moment or a few minutes to peruse the magazine and enjoy it, she said. “So, we don’t want to disrupt that by just having crazy amounts of these codes on our pages, without being very thoughtful about where we’re sending our readers and what kind of content we’re offering them,” she said. “It’s about being true to our brand and being true to the reader who come to us for all kinds of food content, which is what we’re keeping in mind as we move forward.”
SmartCode content is limited only by the team’s imagination, Darling said. “That’s the question on everybody’s mind,” she said, adding that there might be room for additional audio innovation for Allrecipes, like a podcast and a daily Alexa briefing.
Since the introduction of SmartCodes earlier this year, Meredith has incorporated dozens of them across its print issues, explained Corbin de Rubertis, head of innovation at Meredith Digital. Meredith’s Smart Codes are QR codes that connect to digital experiences, activating print stories with videos, imagery, interviews, targeted advertising offers, ecommerce and other multimedia content. For example, Midwest Living took readers behind the scenes with SmartCodes linked to interviews and videos earlier this year.
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Readers really seem to like them, according to De Rubertis. “SmartCodes break the traditional cycle of ‘read article, type in the link, watch the video’ which was frustrating and limited the user engagement,” he said. “We’re watching usage of the codes closely to see which types of executions seem to drive most engagement. Currently related video content and product offers seem to be performing the best.”
De Rubertis said the team has been working on SmartCodes for about nine months, but engagement is really taking off. “ROI is solid as cost to execute is very low, and we’re gaining critical first-party data that also fuels our print attribution credibility with advertisers,” he explained. “Fair to say that Meredith, with over 40 titles (with users often subscribing to multiple titles) and a very strong digital business, is in a great place to really push this technology across the portfolio – and that’s exactly what we’re doing!”
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