How Augmented Reality is Revolutionizing Marketing (infographic)

Those who have Apple’s iOS 12 for their smartphone may have noticed a new app appear that is simply entitled: measure. It allows you to easily gauge distances using just a phone screen and a line you place in the picture as a kind of measuring tape. The best part, when you move your device — the line stays put — hovering in the place where you set it. You can measure an entire room in various directions and the lines remain — as though they were really standing in mid-air.

On Facetime also, there is a new feature that allows users to create features that float in what appears to be real space. Words and images can be a part of a user’s Facetime experience. This could be expanded to creating data visualizations for online meetings that appear in space, rather than on a cold spreadsheet.

These examples demonstrate how consumers can easily take advantage of Augmented Reality (AR) tech. And the multiplicity of uses for AR are expanding exponentially everyday, from getting to your flight on time at Gatwick Airport to getting a floating fish to eat your emotions — the limitations are actually only the limits of imagination.

What is AR?

Augmented Reality is a way to superimpose digital information onto real world images or information via live interaction from a camera or imaging device. AR in gaming has led to innovations like the relatively ubiquitous Pokemon Go phenomenon where players catch avatars of characters in real time and space. But this is just one small aspect of how AR is changing every aspect of the digital world. With AR tech, you can do everything from getting alerts on the windshields of some new cars to putting a pair of dog ears on Instagram selfies.

Using Augmented Reality in industry is not new. The truth is, marketing is catching up to other industries that have already been using AR tech to effectively revolutionize how they do business. In healthcare, for example, AR is used both for educational purposes using 3D imaging to give medical professionals training options and to allow them to check patient vitals in real time. Also it is used in practice. Already, a scanner known as AccuVein projects an AR image of veins on top of the skin of a patient that allows medical professionals to inject or draw blood more easily.
Related: The (Older Than You Think) History Of Augmented And Virtual Reality [INFOGRAPHIC]
Similarly, in manufacturing, AR is being integrated with Internet of Things (IoT) tech to allow managers to simply look around a factory floor and see the vital statistics of every piece of machinery. Using a heads up display, they can be given information about temperature spikes, fuel needs, or electronic malfunctions before these become a problem.

Rather than seeing this as ground to be made up, marketers should reference what technology already exists and ways in which AR is already being used, to inspire their own strategies. Instead of looking for a patient’s symptoms, in the marketing sphere, AR can give consumers a look inside products and allow them a better understanding of how these can be integrated into their lives. At the same time, AR can help pattern consumer behavior for improved targeting.

How is AR currently being used for marketing

Location and wayfinding

One of the aspects of AR that has been promised to marketers is a display that shows customers how to get to a physical location of a store or restaurant. This is simple to apply to your brick and mortar building and allows a consumer to learn more about your business or product just by looking at your facade. Not only that, apps like Wikitude can lead customers to their desired searches, effectively pointing the way to what they need.

Product visualization

AR allows consumers to more easily visualize how large purchases like furniture are going to fit in their home. Ikea’s AR catalog has been a trailblazer for AR tech in this arena for the last several years. The app can place furniture pieces in an image of your home in 3D spaces so you can get an idea of what it looks like. Change the colors and styles to get the one desired.

Real Estate is particularly interested in using AR. The tech allows new home buyers to place their furniture in a new property and see how they like it. Also AR/VR tours give buyers a way to visit a potential properly without leaving home leading to fewer showings, saving both the company and the client time and money. This extends to interior design, architecture and even landscaping.

In fashion, Warby Parker uses a facial mapping software to put AR versions of their glasses on people’s faces - that way they can order online without fear of getting something that they don’t want. Similarly, the make-up company L’oreal, recently teamed up with Facebook to create an AR experience that allows consumers to see how they look when trying their make-up products, without the need to sit in a makeover chair at the mall.

Consumer focusing

While most consider AR as a way to add imagery onto a screen to point a consumer in a specific direction, a variation on this is that AR also can be used to remove distractions. Already apps are being developed that have the capability to show customers only, for example, the sugar free options in a grocery store, or to highlight the products they need to create a specific recipe.

Of course this requires that your iPhone can recognize what seems like an infinite number of products and images in order to differentiate one product from another. Google, of course, is on top of this. Their Google Lens is constantly learning, giving people the ability to use AR effectively to identify almost anything when just wandering around in the real world.

Uniqueness in the marketplace

A now relatively famous PepsiMax ad used AR tech on a London bus shelter to create a visualization of scenes of alien attacks, a loose tiger, and other crazy scenarios. This was just a way to promote a product that has a focus on portraying itself as being for a demographic that prizes fun and amusement. Movie companies have followed suit with posters that have AR components when viewed through the right browser. Facebook teamed up with the Spielberg film Ready Player One to create one of these AR experiences. These memorable interactions are ways to reach new potential customers and demonstrate the effectiveness of the space.

Interaction in a new medium

Lego recently created a way for master builders to use AR to have more fun including games and features that bring a set to life. Disney uses similar technology with coloring pages that allow you to see your drawings in action in a 3D world and soon will have ways for you to appear in full costume via AR wherever you go.

Metrics and data

Most importantly to marketers, however, is that increased engagement with AR means creating more opportunity to assess a consumer and their habits. When customers more easily access products and visualize them them on their body or in their living room it creates a better map for future targeting. Location studies can track consumer behavior under specific circumstances. How does the rain affect your consumers? Are their other environmental factors that haven’t been anticipated? AR interaction may give you a clue. That being said, metrics are still evolving. How does, for example, a digital video view compare on an engagement level to an AR use? Is time of use the metric to use? This is still being assessed and tech companies are putting themselves out there as consultants for marketing strategies in this space, providing useful info and articles about what to consider when getting started with AR.

Getting into AR

AR use is becoming standard for consumers. People say they prefer experiences that give them AR access. CleverTap points out in the infographic below on how to use AR, just how attuned customers are to utilizing AR for their purchasing. Their research shows that AR use doubles consumer engagement. It also says that customers are 50% more likely to purchase from a company that uses AR tech to improve their experience and 40% more likely to spend a greater amount than they would otherwise.

Is AR only for large companies with big marketing budgets?

AdAge calls AR a “trillion-dollar opportunity” pointing out that with the decline of television advertising and increase in digital exposure to the average consumer, the potential of a marketing shift into the AR sphere is staggering.

Already, they quote a Deloitte study which shows that 88% of midmarket companies (with revenues between $100 million and $1 billion) are using AR or Virtual Reality as part of their marketing strategies.

But AR should not intimidate marketers. Today access to AR for marketers has never been easier. SparkAR from Adobe and Apple’s ARKit allows anyone to create a AR experiences without using code or having much technical knowhow. You can easily create customized Instagram effects that involve your branding or develop other innovative AR additions that suit your products.

The future of AR in marketing

Today, while the sector is expanding technology has not yet caught up to the potential of AR. True access to AR will require wearable devices (like smart glasses) to gains real traction in the space. However, already there are pop-up invisible stores and retailers that bring the “in-store” experience to your home, allowing you to see their wares on your own shelves.

One of the most exciting things about the AR space is that while most people agree that it is an important aspect of future marketing campaigns, the capabilities have yet to be fully defined. By starting your foray into AR for your company now, your innovations could create ROI in ways that you haven’t yet anticipated.

Check the infographic below on strategies for starting out in AR.

What is Augmented Reality? How AR is Changing Marketing - infographic
How Augmented Reality is Revolutionizing Marketing (infographic)
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