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  4. A Concise Guide to Augmented Reality (AR) in Marketing

A Concise Guide to Augmented Reality (AR) in Marketing

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Augmented reality is one of the biggest trends we’re seeing in marketing in 2022 so far. By incorporating AR technology into ads, pamphlets, signage, and more, businesses are able to provide their customers with a unique experience of unadulterated fun, and make their brand stand out among the echo chamber of the millions of brands just copying each other.

One reason why AR has been attracting so much attention is because it creates an immersive and interactive experience, despite there being no physical interaction. Amid the pandemic, when it’s more difficult than ever to build connections with customers, AR offers a safe way to interact with customers via an animation, a game, or a instagram-like photo filter, and encourages the customer to share this AR campaign with all of their friends on social media

What is augmented reality (AR)?

You may be familiar with Pokemon Go, the app that caused people of all ages around the world to wander the streets while staring at their phone screens. Pokemon Go actually uses the technology of AR to bring everyone’s beloved childhood characters to real life, as you could find a Snorlax chilling on your sidewalk or a Squirtle while on a trip to the beach.

It’s called “augmented reality” because the real environment that surrounds you is augmented by digital information. The way it works is that it uses your phone camera and then projects AR content onto the screen, whether it is an animated character, a video, or an interactive quiz.

Note that AR not only places animated 3D objects in the real world, but can interact with actual objects around you. For example, with AR, the Leprechaun on your box of Lucky Charms could start dancing or a photo of Morgan Freeman in the newspaper could start speaking and give you an inspirational speech. Really, the possibilities with AR are endless.

The three types of augmented reality

There are mainly three types of AR technology: location-based AR, spatial AR, and marker-based AR. Let’s take a closer look at all three types to better understand how AR works.

Location-based AR

Location-based AR is AR that displays digital information by linking GPS-acquired location information to real-life scenery captured by the camera of a smartphone or tablet. Pokemon Go and navigation apps that use AR arrows on the screen to show directions are also classified as GPS AR. This type of AR is often used in events such as city tours, as the information displayed changes depending on the location.

Spatial AR

Spatial AR, also known as projection AR, projects 3D objects on one’s camera screen according to the location where the device's camera is held up. Virtual live streaming, in which you can enjoy a performance as if a character were singing in front of you in real space, or a simulation of furniture installation are classified as spatial awareness AR.

Marker-based AR

Marker-based AR is capable of recognizing specific objects in images scanned by the device's camera and applying AR effects to them. Examples include 3D coloring pages that make your drawings come to life and Instagram or Snapchat filters that morph your face. Generally, the app looks for a specific image, called a marker, and then is prompted to change the image through AR.

How is AR technology used in marketing?

AR in B2C: Social Media Success and the Tracking of Customer Data

Through AR marketing, a brand can communicate information through images, animations, and videos, making it much easier for their customers to follow along. AR can also add a touch of entertainment value to your typical marketing, providing something new and memorable that leads to new customers becoming fans of your brand.

Through AR, B2C retailers can have their customers try on cosmetics or clothes virtually without the hassle of actually visiting the store or changing clothes. This makes the experience of buying clothing/cosmetics much easier, and can thereby encourage more purchases.

You can also achieve more success with your social media marketing by incorporating AR. Since AR is so unique and has that aspect of pure childlike fun, viewers of your campaign are that much more likely to share it on their own feed, and if it picks up and snowballs, it could easily go viral and you can reach a considerably broader audience. 

AR apps can also gather a diverse range of data on the customers who interact with your campaign, from basic demographics to how long they viewed the AR or if they clicked on a link within the app. This data is invaluable as you can use it to get a clearer idea of your customers’ needs and interests, and use it to guide your future ad copy, email campaigns, website development, and so on.

AR Uses in B2B Businesses

Although AR is often thought to be a strategy for B2C companies, we can see it being utilized more and more in B2B marketing as well. AR can be used by manufacturers to guide potential customers through a tour of their factory, and to show the to-scale size of a large industrial machine.

Another common application for AR is to use it in exhibitions to attract guests to your booth. You can advertise your booth in advance as having a fun AR experience, and while it may seem like a flashy tactic, it’s worth it to get your booth to stand out and have more opportunities to talk to new customers.

AR marketing examples

Concerts and Live Events

AR is used for all kinds of events such as seasonal events, festivals, fairs, and exhibitions.

Examples:

・Attract more people to your ads and flyers by incorporating AR

・Original photo frames and filters: get more people to share the event on social media by offering a unique Instagram or Snapchat camera filter

・AR stamp rally: place AR markers all around the event and offer a prize for those who collect all the AR stamps

・Treasure hunts and riddle solving games: attract visitors to tourist attractions, to revitalize towns, and to improve turnout at events

・Supporting content for museum exhibits: can offer audio-visual explanations of exhibits in the digital format, simultaneously making it more interactive and ridding the need for signage or extra equipment

Product Packaging

AR is used in product packaging for CDs, food and beverages, daily necessities, and other products, as well as for product purchase benefits.

Examples:

・Use AR videos, camera filters, and mini-games as a special freebie to go with your consumer product, be it a snack, beverage, pair of sneakers, CD, etc.

・Can share information and content beyond the limits of regular packaging, with videos that show uses for your product and the story behind its design

Tourism and Region Revitalization

AR is being used by municipalities, tourist associations, leisure facilities, and other organizations nationwide to promote events and PR activities aimed at revitalizing local communities and tourist attractions.

Examples:

・AR on pamphlets/panels for leisure facilities and historical buildings

・AR on flyers and maps of shopping malls

・Castles and castle ruins: Learning and education support through AR video distribution and restoration of lost structures

・Create an AR video tour of the town in multiple languages to assist foreign visitors

Retail Stores and Restaurants

You can use AR in retail around your store, to enhance the customer experience. For example, a select few Timberland stores introduced a virtual fitting room screen, so that any passerby could try on any item from the store, and are more encouraged to go inside and make a purchase.
As for restaurants, you could augment your menus so that all the nutritional facts pop up on the customer’s camera screen, or a video explaining where all the ingredients come from for environmentally-conscious visitors. You could also create a food-themed snapchat filter like Tacobell did with their campaign on Cinco de Mayo in which their filter turned your head into a huge taco shell.

Enhance the customer experience with AR!

Pretty much all businesses are doing some form of advertising these days, be it online or in real life. That means consumers have become immune to the advertisements that keep popping up on their browser, and have learned to tune them out. For this reason, you need to be creative with your marketing and ad campaigns to get people to pay attention. Augmented reality, as a budding technology and the infinite possible applications both online and in real life, make it the perfect addition to spice up your marketing and set you apart from your competitors.

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