Augmented reality for business: how to get started
With over 3.5 billion people estimated to be regular AR users by the end of 2022, augmented reality for business is on track to become an essential part of every brand’s marketing toolkit. For companies that want to stand out as dynamic, forward-thinking, and customer-focused, AR adoption can help engage customers and improve their perception of your brand.
However, even though the vast majority of people aged between 16 and 44 are aware of AR, actually creating a market-ready AR experience for your business can seem like a significant challenge. Nonetheless, thanks to advances in technology and reductions in development costs, building an AR experience is far more straightforward than you might imagine. While Gartner predicts that 15% of organisations with more than $1 billion in revenue will be using AR by 2025, launching your AR campaign does not require a massive capital investment either.
Augmented reality for business starts with social media
One of the easiest ways to begin incorporating augmented reality for business is to create your own social media filters. As you will see below, each one of the major social media platforms facilitates augmented reality filters differently.
After its launch in 2011, Snapchat became the first social media giant to incorporate AR face filters and stories. Snapchat now also includes location-based ‘geofilters’ and AR-generated version of their Bitmojis, popular features among their mostly younger demographic.
In 2016, Instagram launched its own ‘stories’ feature. While at the time, the feature was criticised for being a blatant copy of Snapchat’s concept, it has since become a significant success. Instagram stories offer AR filters for still photos and videos and, perhaps most importantly, make it easy to share stories between users, increasing their reach exponentially.
After seeing success with Instagram’s stories, Facebook quickly implemented their own stories feature as well. Though not as immediately successful as Instagram or Snapchat, Facebook stories offer many similar technologies like reactive filters, filters with effects, and selfie filters. The Facebook demographic tends to be slightly older than Snapchat or Instagram, so keep this in mind when rolling out your AR campaign.
Famous for its users’ lip-syncing to audio clips, TikTok is becoming an AR technology leader. Alongside face filters, TikTok offers various AR experiences to users, including AR puppetry, product visualisation, and even workouts. TikTok is also currently pioneering the use of Lidar in AR to create effects that interact with users’ environments.
How filters allow businesses to deliver unique augmented reality experiences
As well as understanding the different social media AR platforms available, you will also need to determine which kind of AR filter suits your campaign.
Here is a quick guide to the different filters available:
A world effect superimposes AR features onto the real world. Recently, we developed a filter for Purina and Facebook during the (first) 2020 quarantine. This filter was designed to delight customers by projecting the brand’s feline ambassador Felix into their work-from-home stations, where they could play with the animated cat.
Face filters are the most commonly used type of AR effect. They present a tremendous breadth of creative options to brands. To take one example, for the BBC show His Dark Materials, we created a filter that turns users into an animated Iorek, a fearsome polar bear and character from the show.
A portal creates an entirely new world for users to interact with and, as such, is the most immersive option on social media. For example, for one project we partnered with Aladdin, the West End musical, to recreate an AR version of Aladdin’s treasure-filled ‘cave of wonders.’ Users could enter this ‘cave of wonders,’ release a Genie from his lamp and take pictures alongside him.
While developing a game may be a slightly more involved process, gamifying your AR experience is a great way to capture users’ attention. We have previously worked with Absolut to create a game for Snapchat where users could catch pieces of fruit in their glass, a fun way to encourage involvement with the brand and stimulate interest in a new product.
How augmented reality can work for ecommerce businesses
Ecommerce is one of the fastest-growing areas of augmented reality for business. By incorporating AR into their online storefronts, brands can empower customers to try on products virtually, increase sales and reduce returns.
Virtual AR try-on enables customers to choose a product from your online storefront and see how it would look on them. Virtual try-ons are a lot like filters but associated with a specific product. For their Halloween-themed Haunted Dollhouse campaign, cosmetics brand NYX took the virtual try-on concept one step further. They created five distinct, professionally developed makeup looks that users could try on, share, and shop.
Product visualisation is similar to virtual try-on but is aimed at shoppers’ environments. This feature allows users to place furniture or other products in their surroundings through the phone camera, making it easier to assess colour and scale. For Orendt Studios, we created a visualisation campaign allowing users to do just this, effectively minimising the consumer’s risk of buying an undesirable item and the seller’s chance of a return.
3D display ads
3D display ads, on the other hand, are a more interactive, immersive alternative to traditional 2D marketing. They enable web shoppers to engage with 3D models of your product within display ads. They can move the product, zoom in and out and inspect it from all angles. This type of campaign works best when applied to a product whose features are difficult to capture fully in a 2D way. For example, we recently collaborated with the automotive brand MG Motor to create a 3D campaign featuring the new MG Hector, where users could rotate the car and zoom in and out.
How businesses can use augmented reality to grow in-store sales
The benefits of AR are not limited to online businesses. Meshed with an in-store offering, AR can offer shoppers a unique hybrid digital experience that drives engagement, sales, and customer retention. Here are a few examples of how AR can be incorporated into an in-store experience.
In-store virtual try-on
In-store virtual try-ons allow the customer to try on a product they’re interested in without the hassle of tearing open packaging, or the inconvenience of a fitting room. We recently helped Speedo leverage this technology by creating an AR experience where customers could select and virtually try on swimming goggles in-store.
Augmented menus are an example of the increasingly creative and useful ways AR can be leveraged for use in-store. We recently worked with the Mexican restaurant group Wahaca to create an interactive menu that enables diners to see all the information that would appear on a generic paper menu, but with additional details like ingredients, allergens, and sustainability practices.
Interactive product information
If your brand’s goals don’t immediately tie into any of these categories, that doesn’t mean you can’t make use of AR. The technology is continuously expanding and adapting, and brands find new and unique ways to engage their customers with it all the time. For our partnership with Jack Daniels, we helped develop a WebAR experience that users could access by scanning a QR code on Lynchburg Lemonades served at Slug & Lettuce restaurants. The experience included a 360° video of their distillery and a face effect virtual filter.
If you’d like further help navigating the world of AR marketing, contact us at Poplar Studio, and we will help you create and launch your first AR campaign.