Are you using AR yet?, No….why not?

Giving consumers access to a unique experience is one of the key ways marketers can involve their brands more in consumers’ lives. The short, yet intense popularity of Pokémon Go, has given us a brief insight into how AR can be used on mobile to make the consumer experience more enriching.

Physical experiences, on the other hand, are immersive, gratifying, and memorable, but lack the sophistication or efficiency of digital tech. Your goal, when you choose to market with AR technology, should be to capitalise on all these qualities and make up for the weaknesses on both sides.

Games like Pokémon Go aren’t for everyone, of course, but that doesn’t mean that AR marketing doesn’t have other substantial, practical uses. AR has some helpful “try before you buy” applications, like a tool that helps with choosing furniture and accessories for your home. Buying items like a new sofa can feel risky because you don’t really know if a piece will work in your home until it’s there. And choosing wrong can be an expensive mistake. Companies like IKEA and Sayduck have made it easier to choose correctly by enabling users to “place” pieces in their homes and see how they fit, both in terms of size and aesthetics.

Rimmel is one of the early adaptors of Facebook’s AR technology. At Facebook’s annual F8 Developer Conference in April, Facebook announced it would share its Camera Effects API with a closed beta group of developers. U.K.-based augmented reality agency Holition, which worked with Rimmel to develop the try-on effects, was one of the developers invited to be part of the beta group.

The immersive, interactive storytelling that marketers will finally be able to achieve will create emotional connections with customers that will drive engagement, which in turn will promote brand loyalty. With brands investing in their platforms, VR and AR companies will be able to make the developments needed to appeal to a wider audience. VR hardware will become slimmer and subtler, and AR platforms will better utilise computer vision and deep-learning technology to blur the line between the real and digital worlds.

Like other marketing tactics, AR can increase ROI through brand awareness and increased engagement. Brands who get on board with the technology sooner rather than later stand a good chance of benefiting the most from getting ahead of the curve. Since AR is so new, the awe factor is still fresh with consumers, and just in time:

Strategies such as content marketing and a presence on websites and social media platforms have become normal today, and even more popular than traditional tools like billboards and brochures. Now, thanks to augmented reality (AR) technology, we’re entering an era where marketing can hybridize physical and digital experiences.

Through image recognition and AR, a brand’s product can now become its main media channel. Forget TV and out-of-home, Pepsi can show you branded, digital content directly off its cans and bottles. AR gives brands the opportunity to deliver relevant, personalised content in the moments that matter, when consumers care most about brands, at shelf and when using the product.

You could give people incentives to enter your physical store by rewarding them with digital or virtual goods in a kind of “check in” process. Let’s say you run a digital ad that encourages people to stop by your store at a certain time to receive a digital coupon or gift certificate, or even a free product. To be honest, this approach isn’t much different from running a traditional special, but it’s a good way to get customers familiar your app. If you plan to pressure users to rely on more digital transactions in the future, this could serve as a great stepping stone.

Advertise your brand directly by capitalising on AR apps that are already popular. Rather than having to develop your own AR technology, which would be expensive, you’ll ride the coattails of trending apps to draw in AR fans as customers. You could make special offers to users of a specific AR app, for instance, or make your place of operation a hot spot for an AR game that attracts new business.

Use a custom AR app to give your customers more in-depth forms of visualisation or product trials. For example, if you sell home décor, you might allow customers to use their mobile devices to project what a piece of décor might look like in a specific area of their home. Alternatively, you could offer users the chance to see the full dimensions and a three-dimensional view of your products in store (if they aren’t already on display).

Augmented reality is much more widespread, easier to develop, implement, and with unlimited applications. It seems that VR is being left in the dust in terms of marketing, but in reality, it’s moving at a turtle’s pace — slow but steady.

Print advertising is a dying breed with a diminishing ROI because of costs to produce and distribute, but its static nature could be revived with the magic of augmented reality. By having a brochure or flyer come to life, marketers could still use print adverts to showcase products or services with video demos, or showing 3D models. Melding together traditional forms of advertising with augmented reality will bring the synergy of a brand’s voice turning one channel into many. While the growth of augmented reality doesn’t mean it will have to compete with ad space, instead it will complement it. It may not be as cost effective (yet) and is much more complex than SEO or social media marketing, but brands are looking to jump aboard the AR train.

In our day and age, both VR and AR are easier to use then you think. For example: with a simple and cheap device like Google Cardboard, you can have a VR experience by inserting your phone into a cardboard viewer, which has two lenses. You hold the viewer over your eyes and explore various virtual reality apps.

Current News in AR & VR

VRChat, the social VR app, raised $4 million in a Series A funding round led by HTC Vive. Other investors include Brightstone VC, GVR Fund, and Rothenberg Ventures. VRChat was one of the earliest social VR apps, and it features a virtual pub and events including trivia game shows and one of the longest-running VR panel shows, Gunter’s Universe. The app has more than 200 user-created environments. This latest round of funding comes just a year after the company’s seed funding, which netted $1.2 million.

Houzz has launched an AR update to its View in My Room 3D furniture app. The app lets consumers virtually place true-to-scale home furnishings in a real environment and features a catalog of more than 500,000 items. It also autosaves previewed items to a shopping list supported by Apple Pay. A similar furniture app by IKEA was featured in the recent Apple launch event, but the Houzz app appeared in the App Store before IKEA Places. View in My Room 3D is currently only available on iOS, but Houzz says it will come to Android soon

Pimax has quadrupled its Kickstarter funding goal for the 8K VR headset. The company first revealed a prototype of its ultra high resolution headset, which has a 200-degree field of view, at CES 2017. Pimax launched a crowd-funding campaign on Kickstarter this month with a modest $200,000 goal, and it has already surpassed it and raised more than $880,000. The company plans to ship devices to its backers in December of this year.

New Zealand-based photogrammetry company 8i has launched an AR app called Holo. The app puts animated holograms of celebrities, objects, and animals on an actual environment, and the user can manipulate the holograms and take photos or videos with them. The celebrity list includes astronaut Buzz Aldrin, professional skateboarder Nyjah Huston, pop duo Superfruit, and many others. The company first introduced Holo in June, and people have already placed more than 3 million holograms, said CEO Steve Raymond. Holo with ARKit is available free at the App Store. —

Advrty has created a new ad platform for VR. Rather than using pop-up ads that inhabit the full field of view, the Advrty platform uses less intrusive product placement, such as a billboard or label on a cup. The company has created a context-based system to target ads without breaking the immersion for the user, and has a patent pending. The ad types include 360 video, three-dimensional objects, and even fully animated 3D ad-scenarios. Other companies including Immersv and Google are also experimenting with VR advertising.


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