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Augmented Reality Marketing
Aug 06

See Yourself Here: Augmented Reality Marketing & Brand Strategy


In: Strategy Insights

American adults are consuming increasing amounts of media. In 2016, we broke records with our average 10 hours and 30 minutes daily, and we’re only becoming more digitally driven. This explains many brands’ enthusiasm for augmented reality marketing.

So what exactly is augmented reality marketing and why should your brand invest in it? 

Augmented reality marketing integrates digital data into the real-time environment. Unlike virtual reality, which at this point requires bulky headsets, AR is increasingly accessible. The technology enabling marketers to develop augmented reality experiences is growing easier to use and more affordable too.

88% of mid-market companies (firms with annual revenues of between $100 million and $1 billion) are already using some form of virtual or augmented reality as part of their business. — Deloitte, 2017

Using a mobile or tablet device’s camera, augmented reality marketing superimposes digital images on the real-time reality in that particular space. Ideally, the augmented reality is scaled to fit the camera view’s spatial layout to offer a truly immersive experience. Augmented reality marketing might also use specialized glasses such as those from Snap, Vuzic, ODG, or Sony, but this isn’t necessary.

Examples of Augmented Reality Marketing

With augmented reality the number of things we can do with the simple swipe of a finger or click on an app grows exponentially. Consider these examples:

Luxury watch retailer Jura allows customers to try on its watches at home with what it labels its “world first cutting-edge technology.” The brand’s augmented reality app addresses the potential buyer’s desire to know “how it would look on [his/her] own wrist.”

L’Oreal’s branded AR apps allow users to try makeup and hair looks on a selfie photos. It’s Makeup Genius app promises “the future of makeup is now at your fingertips.” 

Ikea has also enhanced its consumer experience (and perhaps saved several couples from Ikea-shopping related meltdowns) with an app allowing people to see how items of furniture from the catalog would look inside their own homes.

TacoBell, an early sponsor on Snapchat, enjoyed Cinco de Mayo success in 2016 with 224 million people viewing the lens — which put the user’s face on a taco — in a single day. 

Google Maps is incorporating augmented reality into its Street View to help people follow directions in real-time. Plus, the new AR feature will personalize recommendations along the way, by adding a match rating system drawing on your past likes, reviews, and saved preferences.

What You Can Do Now with AR Marketing

Augmented reality marketing opportunities run the gamut. Your brand might experiment with:

  • Integrating three-dimensional ads allowing for greater detail and higher pixel/display size ratio compared to 2-D monitors.
  • Offering virtual product experiences via AR apps allowing buyers to view the product in their environment.
  • Localizing promotions to clients in the direct vicinity — such as a restaurant enabling guests to find wine pairings that match their menu items with creative use of AR.
  • Sponsoring Snapchat filters which can now be targeted to specific demographics and gender. 

Yet simply saying “we should do AR marketing” may not work for many brands. Despite the increasing acceptance of AR, challenges remain. A Perkins Cole 2018 Augmented and Virtual Reality Survey Report found many considering AR offerings viewed user experience concerns such as technical limitations and performance issues as a top concerns. The study’s respondents also worried about a lack of available, quality content to support AR experiences. Working with a digital-first marketing agency can offer brands the expertise and imagination to bring any AR idea to life. 

What it Means for Marketing in the Future

Customers are going to be expecting even greater immersion, wanting to be more absorbed in their devices and getting an immediate response from touch and gesture. According to Augment research:

  • 61% of consumers prefer to shop in stores offering AR experiences
  • 77% want to use AR to see product differences before buying
  • 85% said AR increases their confidence in their purchases. 

Along with providing a layered environment to this eager, engaged audience, AR marketing advantage is that it can be a shared experience — unlike the solo, shuttered immersion of VR.

Your customers are also all the more likely to abandon desktops and laptops in favor of the inclusive opportunities of mobile devices. Of course, the fact that people are moving to mobile is no surprise — India, Mexico and Indonesia are the largest mobile-first markets with up to four times more smartphone than desktop audience. Countries such as the UK, USA, Canada, Brazil, and Spain still have more overlap of mobile and desktop audiences. AR is only helping this trend gain traction.

Additionally, personalization will continue to be critical. With AR letting people merge their photos, voices and personal environments with digital data, brands that can add value to people in an individualized way will see greater success. Snapchat, Google, and Facebook are already using AR technology, but there is potential for this to be bigger than entertainment — providing real, practical value to users could be a differentiator.

Key Takeaway

Marketing aims to engage customers and prospects and tell them stories. Augmented reality makes these efforts even more immersive. With AR, you can invite people to experience the brand story and engage with brand properties on an even more intellectually and emotionally resonant level. 

If you're thinking you'd like to get into these experience, the sooner the better as the AR market is expected to grow to $117.4 billion in 2022, according to Markets and Markets research. Goldman Sachs’s predictions are less bullish calling for virtual and augmented reality to represent an $80 billion market opportunity by 2025. Regardless, there is little doubt that AR marketing is appealing to brands because it drives customer engagement, supports customer education and can be customized to individual consumers.

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