Augmented reality and marketing: technology creates new opportunities

It might have happened a few years ago to observe people of all ages walking down the street, engrossed in their smartphones, seemingly wandering around landmarks and even private property. I can assure you that 90% of the time they were all playing to PokémonGo. The virality of this mobile application worldwide is largely due to augmented reality (AR). If the success of PokémonGo is now relegated to 2016, the same cannot be said of the latter, which, with each passing year, reveals its enormous potential for the business world in terms of marketing and user engagement.

In this resource, I will explain:

  • what augmented reality is and how it works;
  • why augmented reality and marketing can be a winning combination for your business;
  • what are the benefits and requirements of an AR marketing strategy for your brand;
  • some examples of successful augmented reality.

If you are curious why augmented reality is the future of marketing, this is the article for you!

Augmented reality and marketing: what it is and how it works

Augmented reality, (AR), is a set of hardware and software technologies that, through the use of artificial intelligence, create an enhanced view of real life through the superimposition of digital content that can be objects, films, tactile and olfactory sensations and sounds. The result is a fictitious, but highly interactive and attractive environment.

When was augmented reality invented? AR originated in the last century in the military and aeronautical fields to allow pilots to display virtual flight information in their visors to avoid distracting their eyes. Over time, it became firmly established as a technology within everyone’s reach with the rise of smartphone use. One of the first AR apps, Layar, was launched in 2009. Using geolocation data, allowed users to frame a monument and receive historical information directly on the device’s screen. Only today, however, do we have hardware powerful enough to enjoy the full potential of this technology, which manages to make the invisible visible.

How does AR work? First, you must know that AR requires specific apps and certain digital devices to work. To achieve 2D or 3D projections, the user needs to point their device at their surroundings. In this way, the technological recognition system will be able to capture the reference images, thus creating a scenario that combines the real and virtual worlds.

If, despite this explanation, you still can’t get an idea of how AR works, think of Snapchat, the first social that in 2015 introduced filters, features that superimpose effects and animations on the framed subject in selfie mode and that a few years ago also became part of Instagram Stories. Or to the aforementioned PokémonGo, which by exploiting the geolocation of the smartphone, guided players in the real world to find and catch the many beloved Pokémon.

Augmented reality and marketing: the devices used

As I have already mentioned, augmented reality makes use of various devices. Smart Glasses, Head-ups, and portable devices such as Smartphones and Tablets are among the most widespread and you are probably familiar with whether wearable devices or not, through the use of these devices the user can enjoy a unique experience in which real-world objects are enriched with virtual perceptual elements and information.

Let’s take a look at some of the devices that use AR.

Smart Glasses 

The first Smart Glasses, launched by Google in 2013, are the Google Glass Explorer Edition. The ”smart glasses” look like simple spectacles, but are equipped with two displays and a high-definition camera. The elements that make up these technological spectacles exploit augmented reality, allowing the user to observe their surroundings and display images, videos, and data on their lenses.

These wearable devices currently find various fields of application: from medicine to tourism, from the world of entertainment to gaming, and even the industrial and manufacturing sectors.

Head-up

Initially designed for military purposes, Head-ups were used, in critical situations, to project directly onto the transparent screen in front of the pilot all the information needed to conduct the mission. This allowed the pilot to maintain a high level of attention, thus reducing the distraction threshold when retrieving crucial data. Today, HUDs are also in common use on ordinary scheduled flights, in new-generation cars, but also in many other contexts. Among these sectors, the automotive industry has invested so much in this technology. It is possible to buy a car equipped with interactive displays attached to windshields that provide and project more accurate information to help the driver drive more safely.

Smartphones and tablets

Augmented Reality, implemented on devices such as Smartphones and Tablets is certainly among the best-known forms. In this case, to be able to use it, in addition to having a Smartphone or Tablet, you need a specific AR app that is connected to the device’s sensors.
Thanks to specific AR apps that allow its use, through the camera, you can observe on your display the reality that surrounds you enriched with information or virtual elements related to what you frame. In the professional field, augmented reality through Smartphones and Tablets has several areas of application. For example, think of AR for business, marketing, education, and entertainment.

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What is the difference between augmented reality and virtual reality?

Attention to confounding augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). The two terms are mistakenly used as synonyms, but there is a substantial difference: AR is a technology that aims to integrate reality with virtual elements, while VR creates a new world, ”parallel” to the one in which we live, in which users interact with 100% artificial objects.

Thus, while both offer us the possibility of altering our perception of the world, they differ in the depth of this perception and the sense of immersion they can offer us. Moreover, in contrast to virtual reality, augmented reality is applied more frequently mainly because it does not necessarily require the use of sophisticated and expensive tools such as helmets, visors, and gloves to experience it: it is enough, as we have seen, to own a common Smartphone. Hence, by exploiting the visual, auditory, and orientation sensory capabilities of mobile devices, AR represents, from a technological point of view, a considerable saving in terms of development and implementation time.

Augmented reality and Marketing

Nowadays, markets are increasingly driven by consumers’ needs and desires. Companies are, therefore, finding themselves changing the way they operate by moving towards experiential marketing strategies. Facing a market that is more and more saturated and competitive, companies are constantly looking for strategies that aim, on the one hand, to improve their positioning and turnover and, on the other, to find new customers and retain those already acquired.

Augmented reality has certainly found one of its main applications in marketing. The post-modern consumer today can foresee the position of a piece of furniture in his living room even before he has bought it or, thanks to smart mirrors, check whether a piece of clothing fits before he even puts it on.

augmented reality and marketing examples

And it is precisely the possibility of increased engagement and customization that makes augmented reality and marketing a winning combination for the company of the future.

The use of augmented reality allows marketers to implement marketing strategies that attract the attention of potential customers more easily than traditional methods. This is because AR makes it possible to create content that consumers can actively and directly experience.

On the other hand, marketing has been evolving for some time now from a more product-focused strategy to one based more on the experience consumers have with the product itself. Focusing on the emotions and positive sensations resulting from the experience favors the creation of an ongoing and solid bond of trust between the consumer and the brand.

Being able to receive hints or additional information about a product just by framing it with the camera, getting useful directions to move around in the surrounding environment and reach certain places, seeing the actual size of the product one is interested in, and interacting with it before buying, are just some of the examples of augmented reality applied to marketing that already reveal its profound innovation.

The competitive advantages of augmented reality in marketing

Having defined the innovative potential of the combination of augmented reality and marketing, let us now look together at how this new technology can be integrated into marketing strategies and what benefits such AR strategies bring to brands, distinguishing them from the competition. First of all, you should know that AR marketing can be integrated into websites, thanks to compatible browsers such as Chrome and Firefox, mobile applications, banner advertising of display campaigns, Facebook Messenger bots, social networks, cars, and bus stops that turn waiting for public transport into a memorable experience.

Increased engagement

If your goal is to increase customer engagement, the combination of augmented reality and marketing is the right way to pursue it.
There are several reasons ing of all, miAR marketing allows the user to have a direct and immersive a particular brand. The increased involvement of the user and the possibility of letting him or her experience something new and all-encompassing through the use of AR translates into a whole new way of approaching and getting to know a brand, and into a strengthening of loyalty.

Moreover, with AR there are endless possibilities for customization and variation of marketing campaigns. With the help of devices, wearable and otherwise, and other hi-tech solutions, AR allows the user to have a truly immersive and exclusive experience with the product. AR can also enhance the consumer’s shopping experience. In fact, unlike traditional advertising methods that were limited to providing information about the product on offer, now the consumer can not only obtain information in first ex and quickly, but also a realistic and complete view of the product itself including all its nuances and angles even in the absence of a physical prototype.

Enhancing customer loyalty

Capturing the attention of consumers, in a saturated world like the one we live in, is very difficult. Resorting to AR, a new and innovative technology, could succeed in generating a surprise effect, intriguing users to the point of wanting to know more about how it works. Therefore, for a brand that decides to use this technology, the possibility of making its campaign go viral is much higher. Such a result would certainly benefit its awareness and reputation. AR marketing is a good ally for building mental availability in the minds of one’s potential customers. Being recognized and remembered in comparison to competitors is crucial to enhancing one’s customer loyalty. Augmented reality and marketing experts contribute to enhancing customer loyalty with:

  • Unlock the brand. The consumer, by scanning the selected object (printed photo, packaging, catalog, etc.), unlocks the hidden content that appears in augmented reality on the mobile device, thus offering a new shopping experience. The brand has the opportunity to get closer and communicate its product to the customer, conveying its values and giving them an experience that reflects its vision.
  • Try before you buy. This is a strategy mainly adopted by e-commerce platforms. In a nutshell, customers are al to take two or more products without buying them. The user, after selecting the chosen products online, can request them without making any payment. Once received, users will be able to see and try them out and decide whether to buy them or return them. Underlying this strategy is the need to reduce perplexity about the risks of online shopping and the desire to reproduce online what -strategies happen in physical shops.

Improving the customer experience

If the majority of users believe that AR brings great added value to their shopping experience, this makes us realize that the public is now ready for this new technology. There are several reasons why users prefer AR-mediated purchasing. Firstly, the user, by interacting with the digital model of the product he or she wants, begins to develop a ‘sense of belonging’. Moreover, AR experiences, by succeeding in totally immersing consumers in the product experience, will prompt the user to have a more than positive impression of the brand. Finally, AR tends to reassure consumers during their customer journey. Being shorter and more direct, it ensures that all product features and details can be verified first-hand, and allows consumers to clear up any doubts about their purchase.

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The requirements for an AR marketing campaign

Not every brand can afford AR campaigns. By this, I am not referring to the budget but to the fact that, like any other marketing tool, augmented reality must be integrated following precise rules and strategies. Let’s see together what are the minimum requirements that each brand has to meet to achieve satisfactory results:

  • it brings added value to customers. Augmented reality and marketing are a union that works. But it is crucial that at the basis of AR marketing strategies, there is real brand recognition by the consumer. claudin will only bring home good results if the consumer perceives real value in the product you are promoting. Make what you want to sell unique and appealing and provide exclusive information that differentiates you from your competitors.
  • it considers the geolocalisation of the user. The basis of a good AR marketing strategy must be the study of your target audience. Study where your audience is and identify their needs and desires so that you can design and implement augmented reality and marketing initiatives that work and in which your target audience will certainly be happy to participate.
  • it makes users interact with each other. Augmented reality is only well effective if it is used in such a way that users interact with third parties, objects, and products. Through interaction, consumers can experience, test and fulfill their expectations.
  • it uses AR at the centre of a structured and precise strategy. As I have already explained, using AR without a well-structured strategy will make little sense and will not allow you to achieve your goals. Remember that augmented reality plays a crucial role in communication between a brand and its consumers. Think carefully about what you want to convey and do it through the powerful medium of AR.

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Examples of augmented reality

Many companies have decided to invest in augmented reality and marketing. Their marketing strategies have thus been implemented through the shopping experience of their target group.

LEGO

LEGO has recently launched a new line, the Lego Hidden Side sets. the time it is not a traditional construction toy, but a ht-out, Youth that makes use of augmented reality. LEGO has devised a special app for the little ones that, through the use of a Smartphone or Tablet, will catapult them into a fantasy world of ghosts to hunt down. By scanning colored discs in each set of the game, young players will be able to experience a whole new reality made up of otherworldly adventures in ghost-haunted cities! The choice of augmented reality could only be a must when it comes to catching entities that cannot be seen in reality!

IKEA

Created to overcome the problem of returns, IKEA has come up with the IKEA Place app. By installing it, you can interact with products from the IKEA catalog. The app includes 3D models that allow the potential customer to check if that piece of furniture or sofa is the right one for their home! By scanning the room with the camera, so that the app can get a sense of the space, the desired piece of furniture is selected and appears in a 3D version in the framed room. In this way, the user can see the dimensions of the product with 98% accuracy and how it matches the rest of the furniture. The objects are accompanied by extensive descriptions, organized by category, and can be rotated 360 degrees. At the top of the screen Oluionis, there is a product link to the IKEA website to finalize the purchase.

British Museum

What happens when a museum meets augmented reality? Immersion, involvement, and interactivity. And that is exactly what the British Museum in London in collaboration with Samsung aimed for. Thanks to this strong partnership, the interactive platform SSDC – Samsung Digital Discovery Centre entices and engages youngsters with the history, housed in one of the world’s most famous museums. Through the AR app, visitors will be able to interact, through the use of their devices, with the museum’s collection, thus obtaining new or additional information, and implementing and enriching the traditional museum visit.

Conclusions

Although relatively new, augmented reality, within the reach of Smartphones, is already revolutionizing the way of marketing and the brand/customer relationship known so far, giving rise to interactive marketing that is increasingly subjugated to the will of the consumer. Doing AR marketing means significantly increasing the customer base, retaining existing ones, gaining more engagement, and increasing the popularity of the B2C and B2B terms. This translates into more sales and turnover. It is, therefore, a technological wave that brands must be able to ride to keep up with the times and anticipate what will become the new frontier of advertising.

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