Do you remember all those people searching for Pokémons in the streets? That was the first time many of us had heard about Augmented Reality (AR), and many brands began considering how they could use this technology.
Although Pokémon Go was not the first AR application, the technology went mainstream as a result of the app’s phenomenal popularity. Today, more and more brands are turning to this technology to surprise their customers and to get one step ahead of the competition.
AR overlays virtual content onto physical images in a way that allows them to interact in real-time. The technology does this either through displays, such as HoloLens and Google Glass, or through the camera view of a smart phone, tablet, etc.
AR’s popularity is growing each day, because the technology:
• Enhances our experience with reality.
• Efficiently combines the digital and the physical.
• Is unique and noticeable.
• Offers a competitive advantage for businesses.
The Rise of AR
Tech giants Apple and Google have already introduced their developer frameworks for AR apps. Both companies are making huge investments in this technology. Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, is a strong proponent who is constantly advocating the use of this technology. He even mentioned that one day we will wonder how we ever lived without it.
While AR is not quite yet mainstream, according to Deloitte Global: “2018 is far from the endpoint for AR; many further years of evolution are likely to enchant users and enhance their creations. AR will merge into camera-based apps; we will struggle to recall a time when AR was a mere novelty. And at some point, in the future, it may become increasingly hard to tell reality from AR-enabled fiction.”
AR is driving advances in various fields including sports, medicine, education, entertainment, healthcare, and broadcasting. AR is pushing new frontiers with lots of creative marketing applications, as well.
AR and Marketing
Today, more companies are including AR in their marketing plans. AR offers tremendous opportunities for marketers by:
• Contributing to an interactive customer experience.
• Increasing the chances for WOM and social sharing.
• Enabling personalized experiences.
• Increasing user engagement.
• Improving user experience.
• Encouraging product trials.
• Increasing promotion opportunities including real-time marketing.
• Differentiating brands.
Increase User Engagement
The Drum reports that AR can capture people’s attention for over 85 seconds, increase interaction rates by 20 percent, and improve purchase click-through rates by 33 percent.
AR transforms traditional promotion methods into creative ones that increase customer engagement. When used for promotion, the technology draws customers’ attention, reaches more people, and increases customer interaction. Many companies are aware of the power of AR. They use the technology in their advertising and promotional efforts.
AR, which is expected to play a role in shaping the future of social media trends, increases WOM and social sharing opportunities as well.
One of the early adopters of the technology is Snapchat. Snapchat offers various AR-based lenses which allow users to take selfies, choose one of several face filters to bring their snaps to life, and share their AR-integrated selfies on their profiles. Snapchat also allows users to create their own lenses. Thus, users can create lenses that reflect their characters and interests. They can also make these lenses available to other Snapchat users. This not only increases user interactivity but also Snapchat’s popularity.
Chairish, a marketplace for vintage furniture and decoration, offers an AR-based app with a “View in Your Space” feature. With this feature, users can preview items in their own homes. To do so, they use a phone camera, snap a photo and share this to get feedback.
Chairish ran a contest on Instagram and asked users to create a space using items from Chairish’s inventory via the AR app. The contest not only received many submissions but also caused a spike in app download. This example proves that AR is an effective tool for increasing customer engagement and social share.
Siemens has been using AR in its marketing materials. Since the technology eases giving instructions and sharing information, customers can better understand product features. Using interactive content help Siemens to increase user engagement and ensure a better introduction of the latest products and solutions.
Encourage Product Trials
Imagine being able to see how a couch would fit in your living room before actually buying it — or being able to see which sunglasses suit your face or which lipstick looks good on you without physically trying anything on.
AR creates a more realistic representation of products. Customers can find out whether or not a product will fit their needs. AR allows customers to test drive new products, such as furniture and cosmetics, without even leaving home, thus helping them to make the right buying decisions without risk.
Facebook AR-Based Ad Campaigns
Facebook allows businesses to use AR to show off products on Messenger and on Newsfeed. For example, Michael Kors was among the first brands that tested AR-based ads of Facebook. These ads let users try the latest sunglass models of Michael Kors by using the phone camera.
L’Oréal Makeup Genius App
L’Oréal offers a virtual makeup app called Makeup Genius. The app transforms smartphone cameras into virtual mirrors and allows users to apply L’Oréal makeup products. The app which is only available in the US, allows users to find the makeup style that suits them and purchase makeup products accordingly. With this app, L’Oréal improves encourages product trial by providing a personalized experience.
IKEA has an AR-based app, called Place. The app allows users to see how IKEA furniture items look in their homes. By using this app, users can find out if the furniture they’re planning to buy fits in their homes.
Users can scroll through a catalog of furniture, point their smartphone camera at the location they want to furnish, and see how each piece would look in the space. The app eases customers’ lives by showing users how IKEA products will look in the surroundings of their own home before buying.
Offer Entertaining Experiences
AR can be used to create entertaining experiences. This technology is frequently used in gamification, which applies game mechanics to non-game experiences. AR-based entertainment apps not only offer something fun and challenging, but also increase customer engagement.
Disney Coloring App
Disney created an AR-based coloring app that transforms 2D images created on a printed page into animated, 3D characters. For example, a child colors a character such as an elephant in a book. The app monitors the drawing and fills in the chosen colors in real-time. So, the character on the printed page comes alive as a 3D character.
Pizza Hut’s AR Menu
Pizza Hut’s AR menu is a successful example of AR-based entertainment applications. This app allows users to browse through the menu and place an order, and it even has a game that allows people to win free pizza.
Le Petit Chef
Le Petit Chef, an AR-based app designed by a company called Skullmapping, is an animated 3D character for the restaurant industry that provides unforgettable entertainment for diners. Thanks to AR technology, this animated Chef appears on guest's plates at select locations and times. He spends a few minutes preparing the main ingredients of each ordered dish, and as soon as he’s done, the waiter appears with the meal.
Tips for Marketers Planning to Use AR
While using AR technology in your marketing efforts:
Consider your target audience, offer something they would value.
Don’t rely on novelty, offer something functional.
Deliver quality content that is relevant and useful.
Provide a meaningful interaction.
Think about the context and offer something accordingly.
AR creates new opportunities in marketing. By using this technology, marketers can transport their brands and stories directly into the customers’ world. The technology also helps to create a unique and creative experience which improves customer engagement. By investing in this technology, startups can boost the efficiency of their marketing efforts.