The success of the Pokemon Go mobile app, which became an overnight smash hit in July 2016, has shown that consumers are ready for augmented reality (AR). What's more, the applications of AR stretch well beyond games and entertainment, from education and construction to healthcare and marketing.
The lesser-known little brother of virtual reality (VR), augmented reality uses interactive digital elements to enhance real-world objects and environments.
For example, GPS and navigation mobile apps can combine augmented reality overlays with input from the user's camera, displaying the route that you need to follow to arrive at your destination.
With so much potential for AR technologies, it's no surprise that research firm Markets and Markets projects massive growth ahead for the AR industry. The AR market is expected to grow more than tenfold to $61 billion in 2023, up from just $4 billion in 2017.
One of the most promising use cases for AR is in advertising campaigns and creatives. According to one study, AR boosts engagement in digital ads by 30 percent.
In this article, we'll discuss how companies can use AR in their marketing, as well as the benefits of doing so.
How to use augmented reality in marketing campaigns
Businesses have been using augmented reality in ad campaigns for several years now, but it's only recently that the trend is catching on.
According to Deloitte, 9 out of 10 companies with annual revenues of $100 million to $1 billion are now using AR or VR. On the other hand, only 10 percent of marketers at smaller firms currently use AR, but 72 percent are interested in doing so in the next year.
Some examples of successful marketing campaigns using augmented reality are:
• Absolut Vodka: Customers scanned the logo on the bottle's neck hanger to receive cocktail recipes, a 3D tour of a Swedish village, and a step-by-step guide to the vodka manufacturing process.
• Uber: The ridesharing company set up a "magic mirror" television screen inside a train station in Zurich, allowing passersby to picture themselves in a variety of environments (such as San Francisco and the Australian outback).
• Nike: At a Nike shoe store in Paris, customers could use augmented reality to visualize different colors and designs on the same pair of white sneakers.
• Timberland: A Timberland store in Warsaw created a "virtual fitting room." After taking a picture of their face, customers could "try on" different clothes and accessories to see how they looked.
• Starbucks: In a Starbucks cafe in Shanghai, customers can download the Roastery augmented reality mobile app to see educational animations about where their cup of coffee comes from.
The best augmented reality marketing campaigns are those that create some additional value for the customer – whether that's having a few seconds of joy and entertainment, taking a tour of a faraway place, or enhancing the shopping experience.
With that in mind, how can marketers create ad creatives for mobile apps that fully leverage the potential of AR technology?
Grab the customer's attention
AR-enhanced ad creatives often ask the customer to expend additional effort by downloading an app or scanning a QR code. In order for the campaign to be successful, customers have to be curious enough to want to expend this effort.
Create an emotional connection
Augmented reality is inherently a visual medium. The immersive, interactive, lifelike nature of AR provides ample opportunity to connect with customers. Take advantage of this to build your brand awareness among your audience.
Add a touch of magic
They don't call it "augmented" reality for nothing. AR ad creatives should offer your audience a bit of escapism and fantasy, whether that means exploring new locations or experiencing new situations (such as a zombie attack). Techniques such as gamification can provide a major boost to user engagement.
"Hyperlocal" marketing targets prospective customers in a highly specific constrained geographical area, such as a particular city or neighborhood. AR can show users interesting locations and establishments nearby and even show them the different routes needed to get there.
As mentioned above, one of the biggest roadblocks to using AR in ad campaigns is the need to download another mobile app in order to interact with the advertisement.
Augmented Reality Digital Placement (ARDP) is a technology developed by Blippar that obviates the requirement for users to install a separate app on their mobile device. For example, Blippar has proposed a banner ad for automotive companies such as Renault that invite smartphone users to "Jump inside our car right now."
Once they tap on the ad, users can explore the car's interior by moving their device around. In addition, by allowing the ad to access their smartphone's camera, users can see their real-life surroundings through the car's windows.
According to Blippar chief operating officer Danny Lopez, an augmented banner ad might cost anywhere between $7 and $15 per 1,000 impressions, which is roughly the average for rich media ads that include audio and video.
Whether you're a seasoned pro in augmented reality or you're just starting out, there's never been a better time to check out AR marketing.
AR and VR technologies promise to transform the ways that customers and prospective customers shop, interact with their favorite brands, and search for information.