Interactive pics empower marketers

This month, Mississauga, Ont.-based Hewlett-Packard will be introducing a new online feature enabling browsers to study a photographic-quality 3-D interactive image of its latest product.

This month, Mississauga, Ont.-based Hewlett-Packard will be introducing a new online feature enabling browsers to study a photographic-quality 3-D interactive image of its latest product.

The PC and imaging giant hopes to lure Web browsers to make a purchase decision online using a technology package created by Toronto-based digital photo company Diginiche in conjunction with Toronto-based Publicis. The package incorporates technology from New York-based digital marketing technology provider, Viewpoint Corporation.

Browsers accessing HP’s site at www.hewlettpackard.com from late June will be able to witness a virtual demonstration of the manufacturer’s newly launched Multifunction device which acts as a printer, scanner, fax machine and copier combined. The new technology enables a browser to click on the product to make it move or rotate, zoom in to see a photographic-texture close-up of specific areas, or click on a feature to see a detailed moving demonstration. During the demonstration, bubbles pop up carrying information about the product.

Chris Burdge, director of client services at Publicis, says that the success of the project will be carefully monitored with the hope of expanding it to market other HP products online in the future.

‘With a new product category like this it is important to provide a certain amount of education about what it actually does,’ says Burdge. ‘This interactive demonstration is the next best thing to being in store.’

HP hopes eventually to bring the technology to stores selling its products, such as Future Shop. ‘The idea is that a sales guy can direct a consumer to a computer which will give them all the information they need,’ says Barry Fogarty, Diginiche president.

Since its conception in 1995, Diginiche has used a range of technologies including Viewpoint, QuickTime, Flash and Java to enable a digital marketer to demonstrate the abilities of a new product outside the showroom.

‘There are 580 million people online right now,’ says Fogarty. ‘The number of people who research a product online before making a purchase decision is extremely high, so we give marketers a great opportunity to show off the functionality and sophistication and key features of a product.

‘We tend to be technology neutral,’ he continues. ‘We get to know the client and use whichever technology is most appropriate for their needs, depending on their audience and budget.’ The cost to the client can vary from as little as $1,000 for a simple Flash animation installation to up to $40,000 for a more complex project, in addition to a licensing fee that is paid to the technology supplier.

J. Walter Thompson in Detroit has also worked with Diginiche on behalf of Ont.-based Ford, to market Ford’s Explorer vehicle online. Browsers going to www.fordvehicles.com can take a virtual tour of the vehicle, and access 3-D images of the interior and exterior features.

Among its other projects, Diginiche has recently created an online package for Spanish tourism group, Sol Melia. Consumers browsing the company’s Web site can now access 360-degree interactive panoramic images of hotels and resorts offered by the company, and can carry out virtual tours of hotel rooms.

Meanwhile, in early June, Toronto-based MZTV Museum of Television introduced a new feature to its site at www.mztv.com, to give browsers a virtual tour of the museum’s collection of vintage TVs with information about how they work. During a virtual tour, which also uses Viewpoint technology, the browser can see the internal mechanical components of a TV in action.

With 50% of online Canadians now having hi-speed access, Fogarty believes online marketers have the ability to create much richer, more compelling content and to suck the consumer in before they even enter a showroom.