Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Several Magazines Debut Ads and Stories with Embedded Web Links

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Several Magazines Debut Ads and Stories with Embedded Web Links

Article excerpt

NEW YORK -- After years of chronicling the derring-do of entrepreneurs, Forbes magazine is taking a little gamble of its own this week. It's partnering with a technology startup to test a novel way of bridging print media with the Internet.

Forbes is mailing out free handheld digital readers to all 810,000 of its subscribers to see if they'll take to the idea of jumping around the Net by scanning little bar codes in ads and stories.

No typing required here. The bars are embedded with specific Web addresses.

It's the first major rollout of a technology from a Dallas-based company called Digital Convergence, which also has deals in place to use the system this fall in several newspapers, the Kaplan test-preparation courses, and Wired magazine.

Jim Berrien, the president of Forbes magazine, says he's already recouped the $2 million it cost to mail out the scanners in the extra ads bought by companies curious about trying out the new technology. The codes will start appearing in Forbes' "Best of the Web" issue dated Sept. 11 and continue indefinitely.

The Forbes experiment is certainly large-scale, but it's not the first time companies have tried to get old media to link up with the new.

This summer, Popular Mechanics and Wired have been running ads using a competing technology from Digimarc, a company that makes secure watermarks for passports and currencies. And there are other efforts under way to get different Internet-enabled scanners into the marketplace.

Digital Convergence appears to have an early lead, though, in getting its "digital cues" out to the public and sealing deals with different media outlets to use its codes.

"Any technology that requires people to relate differently to media is a challenge," says Dan O'Brien, an analyst with Forrester Research. "Their success depends on a change in user behavior. …

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