While the Pokémon Go game (Lim, 2016) and the puppy dog filters of Snapchat popularised Augmented reality, it is still a novel concept that marketing, and media are trying to incorporate it into their domains. But what is augmented reality? According to Euromonitor International, cited in WARC, 2018, “Any digital overlay that is used in conjunction with real world items or places is considered Augmented Reality.” Currently, mostly accessed from smartphones, dedicated devices are being developed for utilizing this concept of reality, conceptualized in 1968, but only named as augmented reality in 1990’s (Isberto”,2018).But with the understanding currently available to the media consumers, the results so far have been great, but is this trend short-lived or is it meant to last the test of trending?
Understanding Augmented Reality at this moment-
Augmented reality allows the audience to modify the real world that they are experiencing in real time, adding an extra digital component to everyday life. This growing interface is just being introduced and according to, Max Dawes, Marketing Director at Zappar, “AR by itself won’t lead the horse to water”, he believes that the development of the AR should be based upon the usage occasion along with other practical provisions required in the earlier stages of a product life cycle (Pena- Taylor, 2018).
Augmented Reality was first coined in 1990 for Boeing to deliver real-time information to its engineers on the ground. According to a research study done by Mindshare Future, Zappar and Neuro Insight, the impact of augmented reality (AR) is high, both in memory and emotionally. “Participants exposed to AR experiences displayed a 70% higher memory response than the control group that performed non-AR tasks. Long-term memory encoding is important as the brain perceives a future use for the information”, Andrew explained, along with it “being not only a more compelling medium, commanding exceptionally high attention levels – as much as 45% higher than the average for TV viewing or online browsing – it also elicits a heightened emotional intensity, particularly”,” Andrews said, among younger people.
According to eMarketer (cited in Bochenek, DeGrote and Sorninin”,2018) the base of enabled devices will continue to grow, which will help drive usage in a positive trajectory, along with an estimated 32 percent rise in AR users by 2020 in USA as shown in the figure attached above.
As a result of the increasing AR consumers, advertisers are showing interest toward using it in promoting their clients and engaging the consumers. But before we delve into how marketing can use Augmented Reality, we need a strong hold understanding of its advantages and drawbacks according to Euromonitor’s Passport report from 2016 are stated in the figure below.
Along with those very relevant advantages and disadvantages, a stand-out feature of AR is that while it does immerse virtual concepts into the real time and space, it can be a bit of a privacy control issue.
An understanding of Augmented Reality in marketing today can be the campaigns that utilised it. One campaign is the Cadbury Marvellous campaign, that built a highly interactive discovery game ad centred around the three elements of the chocolate, that is, gems, jelly and pops. The campaign was entirely mobile led, 80% users who started the game ended up completing it. The game managed to capture the attention of the target audience, even though it was a small game challenge.
Another great example is Facebook Messenger’s augmented reality play. One of the first brands to use the feature is the cosmetic retailer Sephora, which will allow users to virtually trial make up. The social network unveils its AR feature following facing products from Apple and Google like ARKit, ARCore, respectively.
Meanwhile, Ikea, has released an app for consumers, which allows them to try furniture in their homes.
But one of the greatest examples for the heralder of AR into general usage is the Pokémon Go game, discussed through the paper. This game included elements of pop culture and made AR its core, instead of an additional feature. It also didn’t complicate its explanation of AR.
Augmented Reality in marketing-
An advantage with using AR for marketing over Virtual Reality is that the cost for device set up is quite low since, smartphones are near-universal and low cost, compared to the substantial costs of VR rigs. It is also due to this that AR is a low barrier entry AR is commonly deployed by brands for at-home activations or increasingly through branded AR assets made available to the mobile user in third party apps such as Snapchat. (Sword, 2017). Consumers will not accept being “immersed” in poorly thought-out branded content or spot ads, since AR interrupts their regular environment.
Since most old schools of advertising don’t work with AR, the marketers will have to think laterally to incorporate it. (Sword, 2017) like Makeup Genius, an app by L’Oréal Paris, that turns smartphone cameras into virtual mirrors that enable consumers to digitally ‘apply’ any L’Oréal Paris eyeliner, lipstick, or blusher they scan in a store, has been downloaded more than 16 million times. AR is extremely beneficial to brands in that, it is seamlessly integrated into our lives easier, and It’s easy to set up and brands can use existing apps such as Aurasma and Blippar, which come with a ready-made user base. Brands that have their own mobile apps can upgrade to offer AR functionality. (WARC, 2017).
Some benefits to adding the AR experience to marketing strategy could be that, it provides them opportunities to offer more utility, the consumers will have more “Brand experience layers” where brands become more distinguishable. The AR involvement will also be driven by the consumer preference, thus creating more interactivity with them, leading to better brand experience. (WARC, 2017)
To use AR for marketing, we must consider a specific role for it to fit into the existing brand perception and not oversaturate the media channels as well. It can be a significant too in consumer engagement as mentioned earlier, but it requires to smooth transition from existing communication. It also can be used for generating revenue like the Goldrun campaign by Airwalk where an app was developed and people who captured a virtual shoe in the AR simulation would be eligible to buy a limited-edition shoe pair. (Mascioni, 2011).
Because AR is relatively new to consumers as a mass availability, there is a good chance of it being a traffic driver if incorporated since it promises to be entertaining, utilitarian and familiar (once used) (Euromonitor International”,2016).
As we consider the evaluation, we could consider the metrics- total app downloads, active sessions generated by an AR simulation and engagement metrics such as dwell time. For a more outdoor campaign, we can consider the footfall and exposed audiences. (Mascioni, 2011).
While AR has been used in marketing for around a decade now, its potential remains largely untapped. Wellington states that any digitally savvy agency can cope with augmented reality. (Bowman”,2011). But it’s utility rather than novelty that’s likely to give AR longevity and making it a better marketing tool in the marketing bag of skills. (Stoller, as cited in Bowman 2011) Once the shininess of novelty wears off for the consumers, AR will have to be used in a much more prudent manner and as more brands adopt this technique, your AR concept will have to be more closely linked to your brand values more than being used to engage the consumers.(Forsey”,2018) In concurrence to Wellington (cited in Bowman, 2011), AR will add another dimension to marketing, but it’s the ability to create a compelling game that is the big boon for brands. Whether by jumping on the bandwagon after Pokémon Go and Snapchat or utilizing the newfound enthusiasm for AR to revamp the existing channels, brands increasingly are becoming aware of the AR technology as a trend in marketing that they certainly cannot ignore for the next few years.