How Augmented Reality Can Breathe New Life into Marketing Communications

Print ads are undoubtedly one of the most tried-and-true forms of marketing communications. But that doesn’t make them feel any less antiquated. Even when advertisements push the envelope with creative infusions that defy the standard construct, there’s only so much they can do to sell products or services in a way that makes consumers care or, at the very least, doesn’t bore them.

Augmented Reality (AR) is a real-time view of the physical world, altered with computer-generated stimuli, that has proven to be incredibly successful for marketing purposes by creating personalized content that fosters a meaningful connection to promotional print materials.

Home furnishings giant IKEA, for example, created an AR program to go along with their 2014 catalog. Users could scan the printed images of items they liked with an app which then allowed them to see how the furniture would look and fit inside a room. This approach not only turned catalog shopping into a new way to interact with a product before buying it, it also helped consumers avoid a dreaded pilgrimage to the world’s most intimidating furniture store.

Vespa, an Italian scooter company, used augmented reality to add functionality to their magazine campaign. By viewing the ads through an AR app, consumers could build their own customized scooter, selecting from various colors, styles and accessories. GPS instructions to the nearest Vespa dealer were also conveniently included.

The New Yorker integrated AR technology into the front and back covers of its magazine to modernize the experience of printed reading materials. Both featured an illustrated cityscape that, when seen through an augmented reality app, allowed readers to view the artwork as if they were a part of it, creating an entirely new way to engage with a traditional medium.

Each of these brands utilized AR techniques that elevated the consumer experience by giving good ol’ print pieces a much-needed face-lift. By including a call out to view them with an augmented reality app, you can literally make words jump off the page with things like product photos or service demonstrations that give a 360-degree view of every attribute.

Ultimately, augmented reality enables printed pieces to include additional creative and informative content that may not fit within a typical template. As marketers look to find ways this established form of communication can be revitalized to keep up with far more innovative tools, AR should be considered for the technology’s ability to monopolize a consumer’s attention span while deepening their relationship with what is being promoted.


3 Ways Augmented Reality Marketing Can Modernize Traditional Consumer Experiences

In a world of digitized transactions, face-to-face commerce can feel downright old school. We’ve grown accustomed to the convenient wealth of information available to us as part of the online consumer journey. Of course, this has made a web presence imperative to every successful marketing strategy. But there are plenty of industries which still rely heavily on in-person interactions. Fortunately, these established touchpoints can now leverage augmented reality (AR) technology to create customized engagement opportunities able to compete with the unique experiences brands can offer via the Internet.

AR is a real-time view of the physical world that has been altered with computer-generated stimuli such as graphics, video or sound. AR marketing enhances consumer encounters with personalized content that fosters a meaningful connection. And it can do so across industries where live exchanges with consumers inevitably mean more revenue. Here are three traditional in-person experiences that could stand to benefit from the modernization inherent in augmented reality.

1. Brick and mortar shops.

With competition from delivery services like Peapod and AmazonFresh, customer retention is of utmost importance to conventional grocery stores. Some chains have rolled out loyalty cards to satisfy their customers’ needs by tracking and offering discounts on frequently purchased items…and to give their cashiers more things to ask you about during checkout. According to Supermarket News, when retailers use shopper data mined from such programs and apply it to pricing, promotions and assortment, they can see a 4%-7% increase in gross profits.

Now imagine a customer loyalty platform which allows access to additional layers of purchaser information by incorporating augmented reality marketing in the form of personalized touchpoints that build a bond between the consumer and retailer. A PwC poll showed that 52% of respondents felt the in-store experience is a major feature that brings them back. So an app that scans the produce section, offering tips to help pick the freshest fruits and vegetables, or gives meal prep advice and side dish suggestions when selecting meats would give the store a competitive edge over its e-retailer counterparts by adding value to the shopping trip.

2. The real estate industry.

The real estate industry could use AR technology to take the home buying experience to the next level. Currently, agents spend up to $2,500 “staging” a property for potential purchasers by making it look like a cozy and comfortable model home, not unlike you do the first time you plan to invite a date back to your place. Tactics may include depersonalizing and decluttering or minimalizing furniture to show off the size of the space. By positioning a property in its best possible light, it will spend 72 percent less time on the market and generally sell for more money according to the Real Estate Staging Association.

But what if staging could be customized based on applying buyer preferences with augmented reality technology? A family likely to update a traditional home with modern design elements could view these modifications through a realtor’s AR app, or they could turn what was a basic guest room into an inviting children’s playroom by seeing bright colors on the walls and an overflowing toy chest. An empty backyard could be altered with images of a perfectly placed fire pit or a party-friendly pool and hot tub. By offering these visualizations, augmented reality tools can take buyers beyond the limitations of virtual video tours, actively making a house for sale feel less like someone else’s space and more like their very own dream home.

3. Entertainment and event marketing.

An effective hashtag can be crucial to promoting an event as these callouts help attendees organize their experiences and stay virtually connected to the occasion, which is why bridezillas now agonize over generating the perfect one. Better still is for marketers to actually provide participants with unique content they can share via social media to pique their friends’ and followers’ interest in what they’re up to.

An augmented reality application could easily place the image of a concert-goer on center stage right next to the performer, allowing them to forgo the expensive meet and greet tickets to get virtually up close and personal with their favorite singer or band. Similar technology could layer a photo of an excited football fan into a shot of the end zone without the risk of getting tackled by players twice his size. By including a feature that allows these generated photos to be screengrabbed and shared straight to Facebook, Instagram, etc. the interactivity of the event has been heightened with unique pictures far surpassing the average cell phone shots taken at concerts and games. Given that a Ticketfly study showed that almost a third of 18-34-year-olds are using their phones during half of an event or longer, organizers can and should be using AR to steer this usage in a way that will help sell future tickets.

From small businesses to large events, a variety of traditional industries could stand to benefit from these unprecedented augmented reality marketing opportunities. The sky truly is the limit, and it could very easily be augmented, by any organizations willing to take advantage of AR.


3 Keys to Creating the Right Augmented Reality Marketing Experience

“Augmented Reality” presents a world of opportunities just waiting to be visually altered by smart brands taking advantage of this multi-dimensional tool for enhancing user experiences. Studies have shown that over 60% of consumers see clear benefits in using AR technology in their daily lives, and there are now hundreds of AR startups on AngelList with an average valuation of $4.6 million.

Enriching the physical landscape with imagery and videos in real-time is both attention-grabbing and memorable, the pinnacle of marketing campaign effectiveness. But to reach the ultimate trifecta of ROI it also needs to be build a connection between the brand and the consumer. Here are some of the best practices now commonly used to create augmented reality content that drives the highest levels of engagement.

1. Building It

The first thought that comes to mind when you hear “augmented reality” may be a giant head-mounted display that takes away from the coolness factor of being an early adopter. After all, people had some choice things to say about the first wearers of Google Glass. But AR technology can be used on all sorts of screens including less cumbersome mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. The easiest and most cost-effective way for brands to get into this space is by utilizing an existing augmented reality viewer to build a campaign. This allows for testing the waters to learn what consumers respond to best before investing time and money into building your own app which can cost anywhere from $30,000 to $700,000 for high-level functionalities.

2. Perfecting It

Once you’ve established the right technology to wow your audiences it’s time to determine how you’ll encourage users to interact with their environment. Brands that have gone all in on AR campaigns will utilize mapping technology to let consumers virtually try on makeup or they’ll gamify a day at a theme park to make it somehow even more stimulating. But on the most fundamental level, augmented reality viewers are designed to simply place virtual objects in the real world, making this innovative technology well-suited to liven up even the most basic ad offerings like direct mail campaigns.

3. Promoting It

With the pieces in place to launch your augmented reality campaign, the final step is driving audiences to interact with it. Simply put, people won’t accidentally open an augmented reality viewer and take a look at your content. The only way users are going to know you have an AR experience is if you make sure they get that message loud and clear. That is why all the most successful AR marketing programs have one thing in common – strong calls to action. Virtually every consumer touchpoint should contain a reminder that an app on their device can expose them to a whole new world of exclusive content.

With predictions that augmented reality could hit $120 billion in revenue by 2020, now is the time for your brand to explore the technology and get comfortable using it. By making smaller investments while learning what works best to reach your consumers, you’ll have mastered the art of the AR campaign by the time all those AngelList startups have matured into the marketplace.