Going Rogue: A Mobile Marketer’s Guide to Augmented Reality and Image Recognition Shopper Marketing Campaign Planning

Why go rogue? Tips to leverage mainstream photo marketing campaigns.

The Economist, BusinessWeek, Harvard Business Publishing, and hundreds of others in the mainstream media are talking about augmented reality and the implications it will have on ad campaigns.  In fact, most of the attention being paid to AR Lite marketing is not only about the future of mobile marketing, but what’s being rolled out now!

Shopper marketing technology is everywhere, Internet titans are staking out new territories, and the couplings between social media and mobilized ad campaigns are growing tighter.

But here’s the thing — we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of the effectiveness of actually influencing consumer shopping decisions via mobile banner ads.  What lurks beneath the surface is huge, and the implications of what happens next are significant for the business of retail, advertising, and even wireless carriers.

As Adweek’s Brian Morrissey writes in a recent article on Google’s acquisition of AdMob:

The big purchase is a clear endorsement that Google sees enormous potential in a market that’s still small. Despite the never-ending prediction of “the year of mobile,” the market has grown by fits and starts. According to eMarketer, advertisers spent just $320 million on mobile ads last year, a figure that’s forecast to increase to $416 million this year and reach $1.6 billion in 2013.

Here are some practical tips on how to include augmented reality in your mobile marketing campaigns.

Rule #1 – It’s all about the opt-in experience!

Your best users and biggest fans need to be empowered to participate in a cool, mobile experience when it’s convenient for them.  That means you should think carefully about whether you want to associate your brand with “pushing” a mobile offer when it’s not directly solicited or guaranteed to be relevant.  Instead, you should tell a story; a story that involves a mobile component, is tied into your overall marketing activities, and includes some specific special offers and social opportunities for your fans to engage with your brand on their terms.

To be clear, when we say special offers, we don’t necessarily mean just coupons.  Mobile coupons could be a sensible way to approach your objectives, but there’s a lot you can do with the post-click in mobile.  Sign-ups for insider information, mobile videos, mini-sites, Twitter and Facebook pages, product info, and game tips are a few thoughts. For some additional suggestions on what to “offer” mobile users see Pongr’s page on mobile marketing “ad-ventures” for brand image recognition.

Rule #2 – Be inclusive. Use MMS for maximum reach and supplement with smartphone experiences.

In our humble opinion, you need to be as inclusive as possible with your special, opt-in mobile offers. That means you need to acknowledge that there’s more to a successful mobile marketing campaign than just an iPhone or Android app.  Specifically, we recommend factoring MMS into your campaign plans.  It goes without saying that brands should be building, maintaining, and enhancing applications on smartphones, but to reach the masses you must do something more pervasive.

SMS is great, but it doesn’t give you the ability to be as interactive as you could.  MMS is where it’s at when it comes to getting the base of the pyramid to opt-in to your campaigns and provide unique insights about themselves.  If you want to collect user photos, encourage sharing on social networks, and build a memorable experience that takes advantage of the ubiquity of picture sharing on the Web, you need to have an MMS plan for all those feature phone users.  The best plan in the world won’t move the needle if it doesn’t have the reach.

“You’ve got to be able to run on all phones, not just smartphones.”Alistair Goodman, Placecast

Rule #3 – Be clever & take advantage of the latest technology, but keep it simple!

The third rule of getting augmented reality into your ad campaigns is to keep it simple. OK, nothing Earth-shattering here, but as we all know, the more complicated it gets, the less likely you are to have a successful outcome.   Worse, your target users might be left feeling dumb or betrayed by your brand because you didn’t include them, or set the bar too high with something too complicated.  We’ve written a number of posts and tweeted a lot about QR codes, so we won’t rehash it all now, but fundamentally, Pongr believes a pure-play image recognition solution is better for users, creative directors, brands, and pretty much everyone.  Exceptions include enterprise use-cases like airline ticketing or monopolized wireless carrier countries, like South Korea.  Besides, if you want to look magical, why not go for the best, keep it easy, and keep it omnipresent.

Augmented reality is not new to many of us in the artificial intelligence/machine learning community and there’s been plenty of moderately nifty consumer applications out for a number of years.  However, with major brands, publishers, media companies, and consumer technology providers embracing the underlying components of augmented reality, we’re all about to see some dramatic & widely used AR and AR Lite applications in mobile marketing.

Advanced image recognition technologies and MMS advertising solutions are here now.  If we’re even close to being correct, image based search and other AR technologies will soon influence how you effectively send & receive message to customers.

If you’d like help planning or executing campaigns using augmented reality, image recognition, MMS, or mobile-to-social brand interaction, give us a call or zing us on Twitter!  Pongr provides leading-edge image recognition technology and turn-key augmented reality marketing solutions.

If you’d like to share your two cents, we definitely want to hear it!

Augmented Reality and AR Lite for Mobile Marketing

The “Augmented Reality” hype train continues to gain momentum, and like the hackneyed idiom goes, where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

Below are a few tips we think you should keep in mind when doing your research on mobile augmented reality apps, the design of your own mobile marketing initiatives, and, for you futurists, your predictions about the Mobile Internet & Smart Phone Tsunami . . .

  • Nearly everything you see today that is being called Augmented Reality is a mashup of 2 things: the GPS (or non-GPS location identifier like WiFi or cellular triangulation) on the phone and 3rd party data APIs (e.g., Wikipedia, Google Maps, Yelp, eBay).  From now on, we’re going to refer to this set of mobile applications as AR Lite apps.
  • The use of the camera (or open video stream) is currently mostly about style and interface.  Some mobile phones (iPhone 3GS and some Android handsets) are using compass capabilities to provide a general sense of perspective in the app – that’s what separates an LBS enabled mobile app from this newer set of AR Lite apps.
  • The compass is what tells the AR Lite application where the user is “looking” – not the camera.
  • If you want a granular sense of perspective via the camera, you should use image recognition.  Like the AR Lite apps, a full-blown image recognition enabled mobile app is not magic (although it is magical and full of science), so you should learn more about this topic on its own.  Pongr is happy to help.
  • There are major wireless network and video compression matters that need to be fully addressed/rolled-out before mobile application developers will be able to utilize an open streaming camera view for the purposes of search (whether general purpose or vertical specific).  From a practical perspective, it doesn’t make sense to rely on high-quality streaming video for search just yet.  It will in in a few years, though.
  • We are likely to see a bifurcation among the AR Lite apps and image recognition based applications before we see them blend into a fully-functional, mass marketed video type of search.  The blend will occur only after the major carriers (or even just one) rolls out 4G/LTE networks. Even then, it remains to be seen what the data capabilities will be.
  • It is possible, if not likely, that carriers will have a heavy hand in controlling this next generation of mobile search because the consequences to their network assets (and profitability) are significant.  We may see alternative data infrastructure providers/sources, but that’s another topic altogether.  And, of course, in the U.S. and other countries, the network neutrality issues will greatly shape what happens with mobile video based search.

Contact Pongr or @Jamie_Thompson for more information.

An Insider’s Look At Mobile Augmented Reality

What does Augmented Reality mean to you?

Here’s the skinny on mobile augmented reality: the apps you’re seeing right now are only using half of what augmented reality will become.  In terms of layered information on top of a mobile camera view, location data is powering most of what has been labeled “augmented reality” apps by the press and many pundits.

Some degree of perspective is available from the compass in the new iPhone, and certainly other phones will be getting this additional data source to fuel their own versions of quasi augmented reality apps, but the meat and potatoes of the apps that encourage you to keep an open camera or video stream are not yet using any type of wide-scale image recognition.

At the moment, it’s easy to get confused with this and naturally assume that because you point your phone’s camera at an object and information pops up in the display, it must have something to do with the camera interpreting what it sees, right?  Not the case.  In fact, in some apps you can actually put your finger over your mobile camera and you’ll still see the same data.  Try it!

Of course, it won’t look as cool, but the information will remain unchanged.  Actually, if you do something like this while moving in an automobile at about 30 MPH, or faster, you’ll notice the degree of accuracy goes down dramatically.  Don’t try this if you’re the driver–just take our word for it!

This latency, or bottleneck, as you might think of it, has nothing to do with the lack of image recognition or the use of location data, but more to do with the multi-functional nature of the mobile phone and the wireless network itself.  In time, this will not be such a noticeable issue as data capacities grow faster and faster. Although we suspect that wireless data transfer speeds will have huge variations and “burst” types of technology will become premium services offered by carriers around the world.

As you might imagine, the personal navigation device market and built-in auto-nav systems are not likely to be replaced by mobile augmented reality apps anytime soon…  On the contrary, they are more likely to gain additional sensory input mechanisms via cameras connected as accessories streaming data to back-end, cloud-based image recognition systems. It might sound complicated, but it could actually be pretty simple.

You probably won’t see anything like this for the upcoming holiday shopping season, but maybe the year after…  The current batch of data being served up by augmented reality apps is definitely relevant when you consider close proximity to the user, but it has little relevance in any sort of dynamic environment or brand-centric promotional world.

Now, thanks to the iPhone and others for allowing easy access to latitude/longitude, there has been a low barrier to entry around creating location-aware mobile applications.  The lat/lng combined with a plethora of 3rd party data APIs has been a real source of inspiration for mobile developers.  Likewise, with access to the camera, creative developers have been using the lens view — not just on iPhone, but other handset platforms like Android, BlackBerry, Nokia, etc. — to provide a sense of high-tech, Web-Meets-Physical augmented reality experience.  Expect to see a lot more of this soon.  Yet, far fewer developers have been tapping into the power of pure image recognition.  There’s a good reason why you’re not seeing the image recognition component yet; it’s not readily available for the masses and it’s hard to independently develop systems that are robust enough to work in the real-world.

2010 will bring an onslaught of heretofore unknown application developers, brand marketers (e.g., emerging advertising agencies and media integrators), new analytic tools and vertical mobile search engines (special purpose apps that cross more than one mobile platform and likely leverage unified mobile browser standards) to market in a powerful way.  Pongr’s own research and development in and around the mobile marketing industry has shown a tremendous ecosystem of media companies, new and old, helping to pave the way for some remarkable new mobile brand-to-consumer solutions.  All will be striving to use a few core pieces of augmented reality technology; image recognition and GPS or other non-GPS location information like triangulation, WiFi, and even buoy-tethered mesh networks.  The above will be accelerated or hindered against the backdrop of the global economy, but will grow significantly in terms of actual dollars spent on mobile originated image recognition and location awareness capabilities.  We base our estimates on our own internally collected data points as well as external indicators showing significant demand for core mobile augmented reality technologies.

The usual tech titans, global marketing agencies, brands themselves, and wireless infrastructure parties will be dipping in and out of the augmented reality waters too, but as is always the case with cutting-edge technology, expect to see the most disruptive advances in platform-oriented augmented reality from startups.

There’s also going to be some opportunities for a few older companies in the GPS space to reinvent themselves, or at least to bring a few new mobile products to market, moving further down the value-chain closer to the end consumer.  This could actually breath new life into some of the behind-the-scenes types of companies looking to build livelier consumer brands out of their existing base of users – users that have been faithful and loyal “customers” for years.  You can put two and two together here and say that existing brands that quickly figure out an executable strategy around augmented reality will have an advantage as the Internet shifts from being personal computer centric to being mobile and always-on, always-available.

This morning I was listening to Tim O’Reilly on a FutureTense podcast discussing his new concept “Web Squared” and how image recognition via mobile phone cameras will be a major factor in adding additional information about the world to the Web.  More specifically, mobile cameras are the sensors that augmented reality requires, with or without GPS, to truly unlock the potential of integrating social networks, real stuff in the physical world, and the vastness of the Web as it already exists today.

Like Facebook, MySpace, Wikipedia, and even Google Maps, the power of augmented reality is not in the technology for the sake of technology, but the data that it provides at a moments notice.  Unlocking location awareness capabilities on the iPhone helped Apple go from 0 to 100 MPH in the mobile phone industry, and augmented reality becomes AUGMENTED REALITY when, for the masses, it is unlocked and fully capable of leveraging the real world mobile sensors we have all practically grown as a wireless data bodily appendage.  Weird, but true. Some people even have multiple mobile devices they use regularly. Think Edward Mobile-hands.

While the words “augmented reality” are still a little squishy today, meaning many things to different people, the sticky part of “augmented” will occur when mobile users around the world have the ability to share and submit information they collect from their mobile camera sensors into a fully image searchable database.  Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and others have automated web crawlers, but the next great search engines will leverage mobile sensors, as well as the users for whom information is a two-way street of giving and getting–be it in a purely social network setting, a wikipedia-esque capacity, or a brand oriented conversation amongst consumers.  Some of the forthcoming information silos will emerge as better than others and certain types will lend themselves more readily to business value, but the commonality will involve mobile phone cameras, faster wireless networks, image search and location awareness.

To discuss in more detail or share your own thoughts on what’s going on with augmented reality, find me on Twitter at @Jamie_Thompson and @Pongr.

Bridging The Gap Between TV, Print, In-Store, Mobile & Social!

Pongr TV Image Recognition

As some of you know, we have been re-focusing our efforts on building the most accurate and robust brand image recognition system to allow mobile users to submit pictures and get brand promotional campaign messaging in response.

Most people generally assume that this is limited to static images, however we’ve been conducting a number of internal experiments and customer proofs-of-concept around the notion of linking video into the system.  This morning, while waiting to join the daily Pongr development scrum call, a TV ad on CNBC caught my attention and I decided to give it a try.

Pongr matched the shot originating from my BlackBerry and returned the search results from Pongr’s automated mobile delivery service.  The entire process happened in the span of about 15 seconds on a normal mobile carrier connection–not WiFi, and with a bad signal at that.

While our image recognition system still requires more data to make it as useful as possible for people, we are pleased that the application to TV is working as well as the application to print, billboard, in-store, etc.  We have an even more robust system still under development, which will provide additional forgiveness to less than optimal user generated images, and can’t wait to give that a shot.

To learn more about Pongr’s image recognition technology and interactive advertising software for brand and agency partners, please visit our B2B solutions website.

 

A picture speaks 1,000 words when shared into a social network where friends can naturally “see” your brand.

This post will touch upon the value of a mobile picture, when it comes to the rational economics, and sometimes irrational choices, of what’s going on in the social and physical universe. Mobile picture taking, social network sharing, and how we all, as consumers, make the purchasing decisions that we do are increasingly intertwined and need to be discussed by mobile marketers, traditional media experts and technology solution developers, like Pongr. As regular buyers of goods and services, we think often about how to spend dollars (or dongs, dinars, dirhams, or otherwise hard-earned unit of currency as may be the case for you) and what appeals to us can be boiled down to a few words – value and relevance.

At lunch today, a marketing executive said to me, “it used to be easy to market to people – you would show them the value points and they’d decide if they liked it enough to buy it.” The underlying theme of our conversation was around the shifts in how we, as wired (or wireless as the case may be) consumers connected to our friends, family, followers and fans, are looking for more than just a list of “features” when it comes to buying the things we do. We want relevance more than ever. We want experiences. And, we want it all connected into the multiple dimensions of our lives; online, offline, social, work, family, etc. We want it now, but not without checking in on those other worlds, all connected through the Interwebs. Online and physical are not distinct in the mind’s eye of hundreds of millions of enthusiastic mobile fans. Why not push beyond the parochial views of “traditional” media and create something better; something fresh, something fun, something valuable for consumers, brands and media purveyors alike.

So what’s the relevance to Pongr you say? Easy. Pictures and video originated from mobile are one of the new major sources of consumer and brand intelligence; intelligence for the user who’s looking for something valuable and relevant, and intelligence for the brands looking to maximize the value experience for their customer and themselves. Sharing pictures, and soon enough video, is a quick and painless way to get information about your thoughts, and possible intentions, to trusted purchasing advisers like friends or product experts.

Sharing pictures into social networks while simultaneously running Pongr’s visual search recognition system is a way to exponentially increase the value of that experience. Mobile users get to engage in a one-to-one relationship with the brand they desire, yet that 100% opt-in “search” or “connection” can easily be transformed to a one-to-many when the mobile user “shares” their mobile picture or video and any relevant Pongr provided search results, user generated tags, or comments. The “share” takes the form of a link that fits nicely within the confines of the 140 character limitations on Twitter and similar constraints for Facebook, and points to the actual user generated photo (plus the branded response if one was created by the user’s target owner).  The richness of the experience and the information sent to and from the mobile user searching for a connection with a possible purchase is unprecedented when brands, or the people responsible for their interactive marketing campaigns, customize the Pongr response.

Now back to the economics of all this mobile picture taking, sharing into social networks and Pongr’s automated visual recognition system… According to data gathered from leading consumer marketing research organizations, including the Nielson Company, the importance of socially guided influences on consumer purchasing decisions cannot be overstated.

Jonathan Carson, President of Online, International for the Nielson Company recently said, in reference to the trustedness of “social” when it comes to advertisements, “The explosion in Consumer Generated Media over the last couple of years means consumers’ reliance on word of mouth in the decision-making process, either from people they know or online consumers they don’t, has increased significantly.” You can find additional stats on the social phenomenon on trust in advertisements on Nielson’s advertising blog.

In today’s world of economic challenges and fundamental shifts in consumer purchasing patterns, it is absolutely critical that marketers find effective ways to leverage the mobile-to-social phenomenon that is occurring around the world. Consumers rightly demand an experience that tightly integrates all aspects of marketing.  So, to those reading this that want to actually sell anything to the new world order of consumers who will be more careful with their spending money, but in turn more “social” about what they buy and how they make their choices, you, our marketing friend, must find creative and effective ways for tying your distributed media efforts together.

It’s All About Execution: Software Project Management at Pongr

Developer Meetup at Pongr

Zach and Daniel discussing Scala at Pongr's office in Boston.

At Pongr, we don’t like to waste too much time in meetings discussing theories over and over. We like actionable information, ideas and requirements so we can rapidly execute to push the limits of what we build in terms of software, science and our business.

We operate several distinct teams: scientific research, software development, business development, and operations – and many of us are remote workers.  Every so often it definitely helps to meet-up in person.

 

This week we brought the remote team members to Boston for some planning and coordination around new product development stuff that we’ve got cooking.  As some of you know, we’re big proponents of agile development.  We do short, but highly detailed daily scrum calls for the engineering side of our operations. The other teams conference 2 to the 3 times weekly for 15 minutes to an hour, depending on what got done, what needs to be done, and who’s blocking who.

Effective communication is critical for start-ups to move swiftly, decisively and get meaningful stuff done. Our project management tactics have developed as we’ve grown, but the underlying themes of crystal clear tasking, accountability, visibility and success criteria have remained constant. That’s not to say we don’t have to revisit prioritizing tasks and backlog management, in fact we do it weekly.  By keeping a real clear sense of what tasks need to be accomplished each and every week, we ensure that tangible progress occurs. After all, we’ve got some big ideas, but it’s all about the execution.

Mobile Marketing & Image Search: The Beginnings of the Pongr Photo Marketing Blog

Image Recogniton and Mobile Marketing Outlook by PongrComputer vision is sometimes called “Robot Vision” or a subset of Machine Learning. We’ll be applying a lot of different types of AI to our mobile photo marketing solutions in the coming months and years.

Mobile marketing is one of those big, hairy, fuzzy beasts that no one seems to really have their arms around, yet. Everyone knows that it’s coming, it’s going to be a major part of how brands market and sell products and services, but few retailers, publishers or advertising agencies have a crystal clear sense of exactly what “mobile marketing” means for their business. In particular, the print media and the social media landscape is teeming with change – some good, some bad – and risks and rewards abound.

SMS oriented marketing has been producing amazing results for brands that have executed it well and tied SMS calls-to-action into an integrated marketing campaign.  Although, for many, SMS has been an expensive and complicated pursuit into mobile marketing and the payoff has yet to materialize. For brands that have executed SMS well, the click-through rates have been astounding. We expect those leading-edge adopters to be among the first to try image search enabling their print media.

Like most new media marketing techniques, the results have varied based on creativity, execution and overall integration into a holistic brand management strategy.  Social media marketing has picked up a lot of momentum in 2008 and it looks like it’s going to be a strong piece of integrated interactive media campaigns moving forward. The number of brands on Facebook are growing rapidly, while Twitter is becoming an increasingly popular way for raving brand fans to communicate with one another, and in some cases, the brand itself. Twitter has made social interaction with brands faster and easier than ever.

OK, so you’re probably asking what this has to do with mobile marketing and image search, right? Well, the answer is that mobile marketing is the “big picture” next step in the evolution of integrated marketing campaigns and image search is how we’re going to get there. You see, consumers, brands, advertisers and social media mavens have made it clear that simple, fast, elegant ways of expressing their interests are what ultimately stick in the marketplace. Perhaps the most important part of that is the SIMPLE part.  If it’s easy people will try it.  If it’s hard, forget it. What better way to make linking the physical world of print media to the digital world of the Internet and social media than to leverage pictures…

The science behind image search is definitely not trivial, but Pongr can execute and integrate image search into the existing world of print and online media so that the link via image search is elegant and seamless. So, think of it like this, 90% or more of the consumers buying new mobile devices in the United States will have cameras on their mobile phones by mid 2009. Those users are fully embracing the notion of using their phone to take pictures of their friends, places and stuff.  Picture sharing through mobile has become one of the fastest growing major attractions for Facebook and other social networks.  The message is clear: people like taking pictures from their cell phones.  For marketers looking to tap into the promise of mobile marketing, what better way to actually execute an integrated media campaign than tying together print advertisements with a mobile call to action and links to the digital world!

This may sound a bit pie-in-the-sky right now, but the pace of “what’s possible” on mobile is moving so fast that there is 100% certainly that mobile marketing will start to take shape in aggressive, ubiquitous, practical ways through 2009 and 2010. A few years from now, we will be beyond the questions of “How do I leverage location awareness in mobile marketing campaigns?” and “How can I extend the reach of print media to social networks?” and we will begin to wonder what’s next…

As the entire team at Pongr embarks on a journey to help bring practical mobile marketing solutions to brands, agencies and publishers looking for smart partners that can help provide better service and deeper insight into consumer trends on mobile and social networks, we will be sharing our thoughts and experiences in mobile marketing and image search through this blog.

Tele-Atlas LBS Innovator Series at CTIA: Pongr Wins 1st Place and a Sweet Cash Prize for its Image Recognition Software!

Jamie Thompson of Pongr shows image recognition to the Stormtroopers
Jamie Thompson shows image recognition technology to Stormtroopers at San Francisco’s Moscone Center. Pongr’s visual search took 1st place in the Maps-in-Apps challenge.

Pongr recently participated in the Tele-Atlas Maps-In-Apps competition at CTIA. We’re proud to announce Pongr was the first-place winner and received a cash prize for the best mobile application using map technology!

We’ve still got a long ways to go, but we’re really excited about image recognition and the possibilities for leveraging our knowledge in the space with a broad set of partners and customers.

Mobile Vision for 3G Marketing

Over the past six months or so, there has been an interesting buzz in the mobile marketing world around a new form of advertising dubbed “Mobile Vision.” Mobile vision’s roots are in the highly specialized area of research known as computer vision and artificial intelligence.

Riding on the success of 2D barcode marketing campaigns in Asia and Europe, a handful of computer vision scientists have directed their object recognition research towards print media. With the prevalence of camera phones in the U.S., over 80% in 2008 and over 90% by 2009, marketers are able to provide consumers with a highly unique opt-in experience by snapping a picture, sending via email, and in some cases MMS, and receiving a targeted response. What sets mobile vision apart from other solutions in mobile marketing, e.g., SMS and 2D barcodes, is that there is no need for a keyword entry — as in SMS or specific barcode (2D barcode and reader). Through computer vision and artificial intelligence, marketing images are analyzed against a database of optimized images and return a specific response based on that ad. Typical responses are similar to SMS such as, WAP push, coupons, store locators, sign-up forms for sweepstakes, etc.

As mobile vision campaigns typically utilize mobile email vs. MMS (due to carrier connectivity issues in the U.S.) the response can be longer than the standard 160 character limit on SMS. Another advantage to delivering mobile vision conversations through email is the obvious opt-in of a consumers email vs. phone number as in SMS. Again, these are similar campaigns to the “traditional” mobile direct response just with a next generation delivery method. There is something to be said about the “coolness factor” by encouraging consumers to start a conversation through photo sharing. Consumers are overloaded with boring old school calls-to-action like 800#’s, generic homepages, brick and mortar addresses and clipping coupons. Initial campaigns have had positive responses from both consumers and brands, and surprisingly high response rates for such a new technology.

As mobile vision becomes more ubiquitous in print and outdoor campaigns, we anticipate consumer response to increase dramatically and possibly rival SMS in the not-too-distant future. The bottom line is that 2009 is the year of squeezing every last penny of revenue and brand recollection out of print advertisements. As with other mobile marketing solutions, we encourage you to do your own testing and tweaking with mobile vision in your next print campaign. Pongr is available to help you evaluate your best options and implement our image recognition based approaches.

Update: since this original blog entry in 2008, Pongr has seen mobile marketing techniques applied by global brands and small businesses alike. Our image recognition and visual search technology platform has dramatically expanded to include the ability to index video content, making it searchable via mobile camera on all wireless carriers around the world. Whether you are on AT&T, Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile, Sprint or Orange, Pongr has the ability to connect traditional media and digital media via opt-in, direct-response mobile picture engagement.

There are a variety of social games and brand oriented loyalty models that have been integrated with our image recognition platform, including in-store marketing programs designed to get shoppers to check-in via their camera and out-of-home campaigns designed to get loyal brand evangelists to promote new products across large traditional media spending campaigns in major cities around the world. Sometimes and image recognition campaign is part of an iPhone and Android application, whereas sometimes it is part of a Facebook tab that utilizes Pongr’s API for visual search.

We still support the MMS and picture-texting approach for brand image search, especially in emerging nations like India, Brazil and China where the penetration of iPhone is lower than in the United States, but we are seeing more and more integrated approaches and campaigns executed with our image recognition API. Over the years, we have gotten better and better at supporting advertising agencies internal development teams so that it is easy and painless for them to build customized iPhone apps for their premium brands and connect to the image recognition platform behind the scenes.

Of course, there are many game related features and functions offered through the APIs that Pongr provides, but the core of the service revolves around the easy-to-use and on-the-fly image indexing system we have been designing and developing for years.  Pongr is the most robust, scalable and mature image recognition technology that has proven to scale in massive global advertising campaigns on TV, print and product packaging. We have served luxury brands, consumer packaged good companies, high-end computer equipment manufacturers and national retailers – all of whom have relied on Pongr for image recognition and mobile marketing solutions.