No one can deny that physical media like print has been struggling. While this media may never go extinct, it is quickly become outpaced by digital technology. Rather than fight against emerging technologies, marketers should embrace new techniques and actively apply them to new and existing campaigns for more customer engagement.
But why stop there? Why not merge the digital with the physical?
That’s where Augmented Reality comes in. For those unfamiliar with the technology, Augmented Reality is a digital overlay of information on top of the real world. Usually this information is tied to a physical marker: whether it be an image, an object, geolocation coordinates, or a digitally mapped space. A range of content can be displayed (videos, 3D models, web information, sounds, etc.) and activated once the marker has been recognized.
But how does that help you? By linking physical and digital assets you can create a system of tools that work together to build a better experience as a whole, instead working independently. Imagine printing a picture and using it to place life-size products throughout your home. Or browsing through a catalog and ordering by simply turning your device towards an image and touching a button. Those aren’t hypotheticals, but real applications deployed by real companies to cut back on the barriers of purchase and help consumers understand their products.
Take IKEA for instance: For the 2013 catalog, IKEA revamped their mobile application with an Augmented Reality experience that displayed 3D models of various products. This seemingly simple idea of providing product visualization through a catalog resulted in the application becoming the most downloaded, branded app of 2012, despite its July release. The application’s success has led to two more generations (2014 and 2015) that include the ability to place life-size virtual furniture in your home.
On a smaller, more local scale, Phun & Dunn, a San Francisco-based agency, worked with Brewery Achouffe to create an application called “Summon The Chouffe.” The application expanded on Brewery Achouffe’s gnome mascots and beer varietals. A series of Augmented Reality experiences triggered by branded coasters and product labels was included in the application as a way for customers to interact and learn more about the brand.
The above examples are all based on print and mobile devices, but the growing trend of wearable technology and more powerful mobile devices hints at a future very much filled with computer vision. As the technology grows more prominent, access to digital experiences and content becomes easier with hands-free hardware and faster mobile connectivity. By leveraging Augmented Reality, marketers can stay in line with the technology curve as devices such as Google Glass and the Epson Moverio BT-200s become more common and capable of more interaction in future iterations without sacrificing classic mediums like print.
How do you create Augmented Reality? While there are several Augmented Reality service providers, it really comes down to the scope of your project. What content will you be augmenting: images or objects? Do you want your own application or would you rather integrate within an existing Augmented Reality browser? Do you have a development team or will you need software that requires minimal programming experience? Sometimes seeking some consulting around Augmented Reality is best, sometimes diving straight into an SDK is best: it all depends on you and your team.
Besides that there are a few things to remember when creating your own Augmented Reality experience:
- Avoid gimmicks. What are you trying to accomplish? At the very least you should be informing the consumer about you or your product. The more value you bring, the more trust develops between you and the consumer. If you bring no value, you lose interest and thus a customer.
- Make it interactive. The more a consumer engages with your product, the more likely they will establish emotional connections your product and brand. A pretty basic idea, but since Augmented Reality is typically interactive, most companies stop with an action or two. Give the consumer an experience, not just a point-and-click-and-video application.
- Use resources that are already available. You don’t have to have an internationally shipping catalog to implement a successful augmented Reality campaign; use existing content and enhance it with augmented reality. Phun & Dunn commissioned new artwork, but also augmented the existing product labels. For you it could be updating videos augmented on already distributed content or attaching an animation to your existing logo. Be creative!
When it comes down to it, always, ALWAYS, make great content. Don’t let the “wow” factor of Augmented Reality be an excuse for poor experiences. Augmented Reality is a tool, and leveraging it effectively is key. If you already make great physical and digital content, then maybe that’s all you need. But when you bring it all together with Augmented Reality, you can make some real magic happen.
Want to know more about Augmented Reality? Have some cool ideas but want to know if they’re feasible with today’s technology? Leave a comment below and let’s discuss the future of augmented marketing.
Adrian Plata is a Content Marketing Manager for the Augmented Reality company, Metaio Inc., in San Francisco. You can contact him directly at email@example.com or https://www.linkedin.com/in/adrianplata for any questions about Augmented Reality and Metaio.