Augmented reality has become a hot topic in almost every industry; from software to healthcare. By 2020, experts predict that there will be more than a billion users of this technology. The success of apps like Snapchat has created a boom in the industry and inspired big brands like Adidas, Coca-Cola and Google to start applying augmented reality to their marketing campaigns.
Despite its growing popularity, there is still some confusion around what augmented reality actually is. Not to be confused with virtual reality, augmented reality (AR) superimposes 2D or 3D computer-generated information and images on real-life scenes in real time.
An example of this is the Dulux Visualizer app, which uses your camera to show you how your wall could look when painted in a selected colour. This is different from virtual reality (VR), which uses a specialised headset to provide sensory cues to create the impression of the real world.
Besides its novelty, there are many reasons why marketers should consider using augmented reality as a new way to get customers to interact with their favourite brands. Here are a few.
It’s a human truth that if something takes too long, we are likely to ditch it. If a campaign requires us to do too many things and the effort starts to outweigh the reward, we are likely to move on. This presents a challenge that must be solved by marketers – how do we come up with an innovative marketing approach that does not complicate the user experience?
Well, AR seems to be the answer. A lot of this technology is now geared towards mobile devices. Both Apple and Google have released software that makes it easier for developers to make AR apps that use built-in features. By simply pointing the camera or scanning QR codes, users can watch the magic unfold before their eyes.
One of the other key issues facing marketers today is how to market to the increasingly digitally-savvy consumer of 2019. With all that is out there, it is not enough to just provide these consumers with a world-class product or service. They require much more. They want a unique and personal experience.
With AR, there are endless possibilities when it comes to creating an exciting user experience. These can range from elaborate apps that manipulate 3D space, to simpler camera-based apps. AR allows you to promote the product and transform the user journey into an interactive experience.
The luxury fashion brand, Dior, released an AR filter that allows people to virtually try on their sunglasses and upload pictures to their stories. The combination of camera-based AR with traditional social media marketing creates a unique and engaging user experience. Using the high-end standard of their brand, they caught the attention of the millennial audience by offering them the opportunity to share what they would look like in designer sunglasses.
A more complex example of the use of AR marketing is IKEA. They developed an AR app called Place, where you can choose true-to-scale 3D models of furniture from their catalogue and virtually place them in your house. The app saves you from physically moving the furniture yourself in order to find the right spot to place it. Now you can do it by simply dragging it across your screen. You can also buy the item directly from the app. Here IKEA is not only promoting the product, but also the convenience of the AR app.
Both cases show how the interactivity of AR’s can hook consumers because it is an interactive experience and simplifies the consumer journey.
Challenges of augmented reality
AR has the potential to creatively disrupt the world of marketing, but like any other tech innovation, there are some practicalities to consider.
Currently, AR technology is still in its infancy. Due to the cost and specialised skills required it is more practical for larger businesses to pursue full-scale development to the scale of IKEA’s Place app. Granted, this is also dependent on the app itself. If you’re developing an AR app that scans QR codes to trigger images and video, then small and medium businesses can also get on board.
With industry heavyweights like Facebook, Apple and Google working to make the technology more accessible and compatible for mobile users, these practical concerns are sure to be addressed in the near future.
In the next few years, AR is set to become an invaluable tool to use as part of your marketing strategy; whether you’re a large corporation or a smaller business still finding its feet. AR presents a versatile new way for you to engage your customer base in a way that is more immersive and accessible. But it all comes down to whether AR can add value to the customer’s experience of your business.