The Guardian ran its first augmented reality (AR) print ad on Saturday featuring an embedded competition and video content to promote its iPad edition.

Readers were able to access the digital content using AR app Blippar.

If using an iPad, the ads also linked the user directly to the App Store so they could download The Guardian iPad edition.

Blippar co-founder and CMO Jessica Butcher said the company approached The Guardian several months ago and had been waiting for the right opportunity to integrate AR into the paper.

We also ran an editorial trial last week – unlocking two images within the pages through to video and digital content. We hope to be expanding upon this trial rapidly.

She said it is very important for Blippar to get the backing of major publishers to expand awareness of the technology among consumers. 

The company is already working with News International, IPC, Future and Haymarket and is in talks with several others.

These are just the very first, early steps towards our vision of papers and magazines habitually being read phone in hand and ‘blipped’ to extract further info and interactivity. This of course also complements our advertiser proposition hugely.

She said the number of number of readers ‘blipping’ content is directly proportionate to the number of interactive elements within any one edition of a publication.


Guardian News and Media’s mobile business director Steve Wing said that providing readers with instant, relevant content was in line with the company’s open and digital first strategies.

The commercial opportunities of this kind of technology – such as enabling consumers to get immediate access to our Guardian iPad edition in the App Store – are obvious.

AR is becoming more commonplace in print ads as publishers seek to find new ways of engaging readers and driving more revenue from traditional media.

By signing up several key publishers Blippar has a good headstart on the competition, but it is by no means the only AR app available.

Billabong used Zappar for a recent ad campaign, while Net-a-Porter used Aurasma and in the US Taco Bell built a custom AR app.