An introduction to AR marketing
Augmented reality is just one of many new technologies changing how we interact with the world. Although AR is not yet a mainstream innovation, its presence is growing fast. The global AR market is currently worth around $27bn. Statistica predicts this will grow to $209bn by 2022. For context, the global smartphone market is worth around $431bn.
The viral success of Pokemon Go shows how AR lends itself to gaming. However, the entertainment and gaming industry actually does not hold the largest market share for AR: marketing and advertising does. When considering mobile AR, the market value for marketing and advertising is worth over $1.09bn. This is almost twice the value of other applications of mobile VR, such as gaming.
This article will explore augmented reality in more detail, and how it’s making waves in the marketing, advertising, and tech PR industries.
What is augmented reality?
Augmented reality is an experience that involves the integration of digital information with information from the user’s real-world environment. This happens in real-time, so the digital aspects are overlaid onto what’s happening around the user at that moment. This experience is usually displayed on a screen or monitor in front of the user. This could be as small as a tablet or mobile, or as large as an advertising billboard.
AR uses visuals, sound, and even haptics (touch/movement) to create an immersive experience for the user. This relies on a high-tech balance of cameras and sensors.
One of the first mainstream uses of AR to appear was the ‘down first’ line used in American Football. More well-known examples include Pokemon Go and other games, as well as some Instagram and SnapChat filters.
AR and VR (virtual reality) have some similarities and are both types of extended reality. However, VR requires the user to wear a headset, shutting out their environment. AR’s relation to the real-world makes it a better choice for advertising and marketing.
This video shows an AR campaign by IKEA. By scanning pages of the catalogue in the IKEA app, customers can use augmented reality to see what items of furniture would look like in their homes.
How can AR be used in marketing?
Since AR is a relatively new tech development, we have only just scratched the surface when it comes its potential uses. However, there are a number of ways augmented reality is currently innovating the marketing and advertising industry:
- Provide more realistic examples of products or services (AR catwalks, AR showrooms)
- Try on products (AR mirrors)
- Raise awareness of a brand and its message (creative and interactive AR campaigns)
Here’s another example of an AR marketing campaign. This one’s from Pepsi…
Why use AR in marketing?
The main reason businesses are using AR marketing is that it generates greater engagement with their brand. Prospective customers aren’t just looking at your content – they’re interacting with it. This means they are much more likely to remember your messaging.
The Drum reports that well-executed AR experiences can “lead to dwell times of over 85 seconds, interaction rates of up to 20% and click-through rates to purchase of 33% – numbers that dwarf anything across print, online or television advertising.”
Because AR experiences are so immersive, maybe even using elements of gamification, they can often generate more emotional responses in viewers. Whether it’s humour, surprise, or suspense, making your viewers feel something is another way to make your message more memorable, driving brand awareness.
Although AR shouldn’t be used as a gimmick, this is still a new and exciting piece of tech. Customers aren’t used to seeing it, so it grabs their attention. In a world saturated with content, messaging, advertising, and products, anything that can help you cut through the noise is worth exploring.
Best practices for using AR marketing
- We alluded to this above, but it’s worth repeating: don’t think of AR as a gimmick. It should only be used as a thoroughly planned strategy. Think about your other channels (website, social media, etc) and how they will integrate with the AR experience and messaging.
- AR can be expensive – very expensive. Explore your options before jumping into AR headfirst.
- Don’t lose sight of why you’re doing it. What are you trying to achieve with your AR experience: is it raising awareness, or selling more products online? Your AR marketing experience should be useful as well as fun.
- When creating an AR marketing experience, make the instructions clear and the use intuitive. Prospect customers aren’t going to interact and engage with your AR experience if they can’t figure out how to use it. Which leads us onto our final point…
- Think of the customer experience. Hubspot found that up to 65% of customers find traditional adverts intrusive and annoying. While this provides an opportunity for AR marketing to capture consumer attention, don’t forget to consider how your customer will interact with and experience your AR content. You don’t want to risk accidentally turning them off your brand and messaging, in a more immersive way.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our brief introduction to AR in marketing, advertising, and tech PR. If you’d like to read more, here are a couple of resources we found useful when writing this article: