Augmented reality (AR) – previous tapped the lesser known cousin of virtual reality (VR) – is changing the face of the future. All industries must take note of the possibilities of AR, as we move further into the digital world. It started with the development of the iPhone, and now we can place virtual furniture in our living room with the Ikea app. The industry is only expected to grow, and it’s time to look at what the augmented reality uses can do for your brand.
What is augmented reality?
Far from the plot of I, Robot and killer machines – augmented reality is extremely beneficial for your company. In simple terms, augmented reality is a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the world, therefore creating an augmented reality (makes sense). This ‘augmented’ view of the world is where AR marketing comes into play, enabling you to showcase your products and brand’s message in altogether different format – whether you take the inspiration of Ikea or even Pokémon Go. Take Pokémon Go, for example, the pioneers of AR. The mobile app became the most profitable app in 2016, with more than 500 million downloads by the end of the year, and a total of 750 million worldwide.
With large-scale companies turning to this technology, augmented reality marketing has experienced unprecedented growth within the past two years. To put it into perspective, augmented reality uses are significantly increasing, with the industry expected to boast one billion users in 2020. Further to that, revenue from AR is predicted to be worth four times to that of virtual reality marketing, with 60% of consumers believing there are clear benefits to using AR. This one statement should be enough for e-commerce stores to take note, looking into the possibilities of augmented reality shopping.
Augmented reality marketing
Our last point brings us onto the augmented reality uses – particularly in the marketing industry. Many firms are still finding their feet in the brand-new industry, but there is enormous scope for potential. For example, Ikea Place demonstrated the tool provides an opportunity for consumers to ‘place’ their products in the home. Therefore, the consumers already had an idea as to how that product would look in their house, thus encouraging them to buy. Once you’ve seen a particular product in your house and liked the look, it’s hard to resist the draw of purchasing. Following on from the success of the app, they built the AR app that provides guides on how to make their furniture, taking the users to an augmented world to do so.
Augmented reality shopping is, perhaps, the most advanced aspect of the industry, with large-scale retail stores adopting the trend. The potential for putting your products in the home of your targets is exponential, but it’s likely to hamper the high street even more as stores move online to meet consumer demand.
We also believe the world of digital marketing will have to adapt to the increase of augmented reality marketing. One major consideration to take into account is the lack of adverts. There isn’t a place for marketing ads and header bidding etc., so agencies need to get wise as to what to offer. How will the advertiser gain traffic? To combat the lack of advertising, we’ll begin to see AR taking the place of social marketing adverts and the like. Estée Lauder is a brand at the forefront of the trend, allowing customers to try their makeup virtually via their Facebook messenger chatbot. Similarly, traditional billboards will be replaced with engaging and innovative 3D content, streamed directly to consumers.
In our previous articles, we have explore the opportunity for video content – especially as there are more than 22 million daily video views on YouTube, Snapchat and Facebook. This figure is continually changing and increasing. One trend we have seen grow is that of 360-degree views. We’re all nosy, and the chance to get behind-the-scenes of your favourite brand or store is universally appealing. Using 360-degree videos is already part of many brand’s digital marketing strategy, but you can allow consumers to walk virtually through your office by implementing AR. The hospitality industry, in particular, can benefit from this enormously, enabling guests to look through the rooms before booking. Likewise, consumers can check the facilities for meeting rooms and functions etc. In addition, retail brands can place their products in the hotel rooms, mutually benefiting all companies. You could even go so far as to allow consumers to review your hotel through the app.
Benefits of AR marketing
We’ve already touched on the power of placing your products into the home of your consumers, but there are untold benefits for the use of AR in your digital marketing strategy. One such example is the ability to bring the digital world to life. You can link your digital marketing campaign to their physical experience. For example, a static digital advert could become a brochure or catalogue, or even a completely unique experience.
With the ability to shop etc. without even leaving their home, you are guaranteed to improve their experience with your brand. Your customers will have more information at their disposal, leading them to make informed decisions on whether they should buy into your company. Subsequently, you’ll see a higher ROI and customer engagement. Blippar, a company that specialises in augmented reality for mobile, has suggested that marketing campaigns utilising AR have a dwell time of 75 seconds. Compared to traditional TV ads and their 2.5 seconds, the scope for promoting your brand is nothing short of impressive.
Following on from the previous point, AR marketing – and virtual reality marketing – is particularly effective in building your online presence. You’ve got that ‘wow’ factor if you adopt the trend. Interacting with AR is still a unique experience, so you need to consider your digital marketing strategy before the advertising format becomes commonplace.
How can AR be used?
We’ve touched on why and how brands are incorporating AR into the digital marketing strategy, but that are untold uses when it comes to market.
The possibilities are still, relatively undiscovered, but examples include adding it to your social media marketing. Similar to the Estée Lauder campaign, you can provide a consumer experience that allows your customers to try the product and purchase, without ever stepping foot in your store.
AR allows you to not only reveal your location but take your consumer behind the scenes. You can tell the consumer how the product they purchased was made, and even guide them through the delivery process. This type of advertising could massively benefit the food industry, demonstrating what it is like to dine in your restaurant, for example. This transparency, subsequently, builds the relationship between brand and prospect, increasing engagement and revenue.
While some of us like to plan our shopping methodically, others purchase there and then. Augmented reality marketing is the perfect way to catch those impulse buyers, showcasing how their life would vastly improve with this particular product. Augmented reality shopping works perfectly for those prospects, blurring the lines between reality and imagined, rather than placing them in a virtual work with VR.
AR marketing examples
Ikea Place and the like have been mentioned above, but there are more examples of AR within the e-commerce industry.
The ‘Sephora Virtual Artist’ was an update to their iOS app, developed in partnership with ModiFace – a leading AR company. The feature scanned your face, determines where your lips and eyes are and allows you to try on their makeup. You could look at eyeshadow, mascara and even false eyelashes, as well as watch virtual tutorials on applying the makeup.
Snapchat is way ahead of the game when it comes to both AR and VR. Their Halloween horror campaign enabled users to travel 13 floors in a virtual world, coming face to face with different nightmares. Their app also allows users to place their Bitmoji – a specific character on Snapchat – in different places, and doing various tasks. There continuous updates and trends have ensured that they have increased downloads, with a massive 78% of 18-24 year olds regularly using the app.
One of the earlier pioneers of augmented reality, Dulux used augmented reality to answer that world-famous question: “will this paint look good in my house?” Their Visualiser app lets users point the camera at the wall to see what the individual colour will look like. The app recognises wall edges, and provides a better experience than that of paint samples.
Ultimately, the marketing world is changing and to survive in your industry; you need to learn to adapt. We can almost guarantee AR will begin to take over digital marketing in the next few years. What are your thoughts on the subject?