Good marketing is all about connecting with your audience and closing the gap between reality and people’s imagination. Augmented Reality (AR) displays on a smartphone’s camera screen and, using computer vision-based recognition to augment graphics, video and sound, lays virtual objects over the real-world image. It is, therefore, perfectly placed to help bridge the imagination gap and create an experience which allows customers to visualise what products may look like in reality.
What’s more, smartphones are now a fixture of modern life, enabling consumers all over the world to not only communicate effectively but also pay bills, shop and even remotely control devices in their homes and cars. According to Statista, the current number of smartphone users in the world today is 3.5 billion, meaning 45.12% of the world’s population owns a smartphone. This figure is up considerably from 2016, when there were only 2.5 billion users, 33.58% of that year’s global population.
This reliance on smartphones is likely to increase as more features become available, meaning Augmented Reality is easily accessible to the masses, more so than virtual reality, and thus its growth potential is huge. According to research by Global Market Insights, the AR market size is set to exceed $50 billion by 2024.
Augmented Reality brings together a new way of sharing information and encouraging interaction which ultimately helps accelerate business operations. It is considered more appealing than virtual reality because of its ubiquity – it can address the burgeoning market of smartphones and tablets as it expands.
As well as offering the customer valuable product information, AR can enable new learning activities amongst staff, improve brand awareness, save on material costs and gain a competitive advantage. AR technology innovations offer new opportunities for almost every vertical, let’s take a look at the benefits of Augmented Reality in business across different industries:
As many industries adopt Augmented Reality technology, it’s evolving the way businesses market to consumers. AR establishes an immediate, sensory connection between the brand and audience and encourages repetitive engagement and loyalty.
Think of augmented reality as adding another dimension to your content marketing, with both you and your audience creating that dimension. Focus on the fun, accessible and visual aspects of AR, keeping in mind what your audience wants to see and how it will help them. Here are some key advantages to Augmented Reality marketing:
Augmented Reality is an experience in which virtual objects are superimposed onto the real-world environment via smartphones, tablets and AR glasses. Virtual reality (VR), in contrast, is a fully immersive experience where a user leaves the real-world environment to enter a full digital environment via VR headsets.
Virtual reality applications can be used across many industries in a similar way to AR – helping surgeons plan surgery, children learn in a simulated walk on the moon and soldiers train for combat scenarios. Arguably, VR is not currently as useful as AR for marketing because, of course, VR headsets are not as accessible as smartphones.
However, with the amount of research going into VR, prices for the hardware are decreasing and, as the technology advances, it’s worth considering how you could leverage both AR and VR to take your marketing to the next level.
AR is a huge asset for digital marketing campaigns as it has the ability to offer personalized, additional information and create authentic experiences for the right audiences. Millennials, in particular, engage well with AR as they are prone to a relatively short attention span. AR-based campaigns can lead to much higher interaction, dwell times and click-through rates. Augmented Reality seems like an obvious next step in digital marketing for the following reasons:
Connection to social media influencers – influencer marketing is already a billion-dollar industry, with influencers being a key tool for brand marketing and awareness. Using AR technology, influencers can make virtual experiences more personal for their fans – enabling Q&As, contests and meet-ups to become more real.
Adding a new dimension to marketing materials – AR enables you to take any previous 2D marketing content or digital data and produce an integrated 3D image of products – creating a more immersive experience. You can also breathe new life into video content, overlaying additional useful information.
Capture data on consumer behaviour – using Augmented Reality technology offers potential to capture more data and real-time feedback, allowing you to assess how much time your customers are spending interacting with your brand and what exactly they are looking at.
As more and more brands are using Augmented Reality campaigns to have an impact on potential audiences, we can look at some of the most successful for inspiration.
One of the most talked-about advances in Augmented Reality advertising in 2019 is the launch of the Virtual Catwalk on the Asos app in June. Customers point their device at a flat surface, click the ‘AR’ button on the product page, and models virtually appear wearing the product – giving the customer a refreshing new way of viewing the products in real life. Customers can view what products would look like on different size models so they can get an idea of how an item might fit their body shape.
When Ikea launched its Augmented Reality Place app in September 2017, customers responded enthusiastically. It turned its physical catalogue into an interactive catalogue, allowing users to visualise how furniture would look in their own home before buying it. The app catalogues over 2,000 products that you can place anywhere in a room by pointing your phone at a particular area and watching the object appear at scale.
In 2017 in Poland, Visa created a popular AR campaign named ‘Try something new with Visa’. Providing an unforgettable experience in several shopping centres, members of the public were able to view the real world mixed with computer generated images. Whenever a person entered the designated circular mark on the floor, realistic animations of virtual animals such as giraffes, pandas and elephants, would merge with a live video of them that was being projected onto a huge LED screen. This brought much amazement to those watching, plus people could take photographs in which both images were visible and share them on social media.
Last summer, YouTube rolled out an AR-powered ad campaign with its new virtual makeup feature Beauty Try-On that works directly in the YouTube app on a mobile device. When watching makeup tutorial videos, users can click a button saying ‘try it on’ to launch the camera in a split-screen view, so they see a live stream of their own face on the bottom screen. They can then scroll through various product shades, applying different colours and seeing which one works best. MAC cosmetics were one of the first brands to take advantage of this feature.
Some of the most impressive AR campaigns are those that use it with paper objects. This was the case with The New Yorker magazine, which used AR on one of its covers. To access the information, users had to download the app Uncovr, which then allowed them to walk through New York City in the same black and yellow graphics featured in the magazine. The artist, Christoph Niemann said: “The idea of an Augmented or Virtual Reality is inherent in any drawing—it’s almost the definition of a drawing. If you create a world on paper, you create a window. Usually, you just break the surface with your mind, but you always have the feeling of: What if you could step into that world or if something could come out of it?”