Have you been wondering if you need to integrate augmented reality into your 2019 marketing strategy?

Rumour has it that 2019 will be the year of augmented reality… just like 2018 supposedly was. Join us as we look at some of the hype that surrounds augmented reality – we’ll consider a couple use cases, and establish whether augmented reality is another high-tech gimmick, or a useful tool to raise organic brand awareness.

Introduction to Augmented Reality:

Augmented reality is all around us, you probably just haven’t noticed it. The concept is simple: the physical world is scanned by a camera in real time, and digital enhancements are added for users to interact with. Increasingly, instead of virtual and augmented reality helmets being used for games and simulations, products are integrating augmented reality experiences via smartphone cameras. Ever used a snapchat filter? That’s a prime example of augmented reality at your fingertips. As smartphone cameras have gotten consistently better over the years, we’ve seen brands like Google, Apple, Gatwick Airport, IKEA, Home Depot and more harness its power.

Is It Worthwhile?

Whether you want to pursue augmented reality as a means of engaging with customers, or even as a feature on an existing product, you must evaluate its usefulness. Augmented reality has many constraints, and if it’s merely being used as a gimmick, it can lose its effectiveness.
While it’s reported that users are often quite likely to view ads for longer when there’s augmented reality involved, that isn’t always the best metric of engagement. The “wow” factor might keep customers engaged with the advertisement or feature, but it isn’t always going to result in sales or conversions. Once augmented reality becomes a mainstay of just about everything we use, the “wow” factor won’t make up for hurdles to user interaction.

Use Cases

eCommerce:

We’ve increasingly started to see more and more online retailers using augmented reality to their advantage. IKEA has developed IKEA Place for consumers to test out how that couch they saw online will look in their living room. Likewise, in the US, the Home Depot app allows users to see what paint colours will look like in your home (we all know how deceiving the lighting can be in online photos!). It’s not just homewares, either; the Sephora app allows users to test out shades of lipstick and other cosmetic products via the front-view camera.

Naturally, getting involved with augmented reality early is a great way to improve customer engagement (discussed below) before it becomes an eminent feature that consumers take for granted. But you’ll need to establish whether AR should play a role in your business first. Consider your client’s product inventory. How much would it cost to get good 3D imaging of all products? Are your products primarily being sold to regular, savvy consumers, or to one-time customers? Further, is your reach strong enough to warrant having an app or website tool developed solely for your brand?

Real Estate:

Instead of giving buyers business cards or take-home brochures for property developments, real estate agents can provide direct augmented reality snapshots of the properties they’re selling. UnifiedAR is one such company that’s developing tools for this purpose.

Augmented Reality

If you’ve got a client in property development or high-end sales, this is something that can really set them apart from other projects and agents. UnifiedAR has even developed an augmented reality house walk-through, allowing users to walk on undeveloped land and see a snapshot of what their new house could look like.

Customer Engagement

I know we’ve just talked about not using augmented reality as a gimmick, but there are some cases where it works. In 2014, Pepsi placed a unique digital billboard inside a London bus shelter. This billboard captured video from one side, played it live on the other, and overlayed it with enhancements, like missiles firing and flying UFOs. The ad was all about viral organic reach and brand recognition, not Pepsi itself. The AR was a gimmick… but it definitely worked.

However, most of us on TheDigitalCrowd (including myself) aren’t in the position to have a purpose-built billboard placed in a local bus shelter. But think outside of the box; how could you captivate your customers and encourage them to share your brand’s content with augmented reality? If you intend to use AR as a tool for customer engagement and organic reach, you should be ticking these boxes:

  • Meaningful, inspiring interactions
  • Capitalising on the needs, wants and fears of your consumers
  • Easy, visible engagement with the brand

In short, don’t make augmented reality a hurdle to customer interaction.

Summarising Thoughts:

While I don’t suggest using AR if its completely unnecessary for your product, it has to be said that it can really do wonders for organic reach. A well-thought-out augmented reality campaign could bring your brand to the spotlight. At the same time, there are some genuine functional use cases that could be embedded into your product or website, depending on the market for your product.

Who knows if 2019 will truly be the year of AR? It’s certainly not going anywhere. I think it’s gotten to the point where we’re relying less and less on the term ‘augmented reality’ and seeing it more as just a feature of our favourite websites and apps. The trick will be to adapt it in a manner that doesn’t hamper the user experience or leave potential customers confused.

Have you seen any cool AR apps, product integration, or just an inspiring augmented reality marketing campaign? Let us know in the comments!