aliveTimes Internet has opened up the tools for creating augmented reality based marketing campaigns for its Alive app to brands and agencies with Alive Studio. Alive uses image recognition technology to scan an image and launch an appropriate action, such as playing a YouTube video or launching a website.

Till now Times Group has been customising and running these campaigns for brands, but going forward it is letting agencies create campaigns themselves. Afaqs quotes Ajay Vaishnavi, director, Times Mobile as saying that the app has been used for 200 campaigns by brands associated with the group.

To create a campaign using the studio, you need to select an image of 300×300 pixels and then the target image. You also need to give the campaign a name, apart from setting its start and end dates. Formats supported include audio, video, WAP page, click to capture and polls. Alive Studio also offers statistics to monitor the roll out of the campaign. Data shared includes number of scans made in an hour, platform used and the number of unique users who scanned the image. There doesn’t seem to be any demographic information collected such as location, which could help brands better understand and rate a campaign.

Pricing: The product is available in four tiers depending on its usage. It costs Rs 15,000 for 1,000 scans of five images, Rs 30,000 for 5,000 scans of five images, Rs 100,000 for 25,000 scans of 10 images and finally Rs 500,000 for 200,000 scans of 20 images. While the first two are 30 day packs, the latter ones are valid for 90 days and are available in more templates. If you want to try out the service and see how it works, it is also available as a 15 day trial during which time three images can be scanned 25 times. Companies can also create their own custom app augmented reality apps using the APIs offered as part of Alive Studio.

Trojan horse of sorts: By opening up the solution to brands, Times has increased the chances of them using the campaign across various media platforms including competing newspapers. Hindustan Times had also launched a similar app in 2013 to access multi-media content by scanning an image. Now imagine if advertisers started using the image supported by Alive app on HT or any other newspaper. That way BCCL makes money even when the ad is in a competing newspaper! It is a very smart move from the company that has repeatedly stressed how much it cares about advertising revenue.

Times Internet launched Alive app in December 2012 and Vaishnavi claims it has registered one million monthly downloads and do around 5 million scan every month. The Alive app technology works on the basis on grayscale information or luminance of an image. Support for full color images will be rolled out later. The technology in a way competes with QR codes, but the app does not recognize QR codes or OCR as of now.

What’s strange here is the company says in its FAQ section that it does not support QR code since it believes QR codes goes against the seamless experience of AR campaigns, however in an interview with NextBigWhat, Times Mobile director Ajay Vaishnavi has mentioned that they will be adding support for QR codes over the next month.