AR is all the rage right now, grabbing headlines worldwide and invading our social media feeds.
From education to online shopping, we are seeing a lot of innovations in the AR space and all the major tech players investing massively into AR, including Apple, Facebook and Google. In fact, Google has just released Augmented Reality navigation for Google Maps, while Facebook recently opened up AR to brands on Instagram. Meanwhile, Apple is heavily investing into their own AR development kit.
However, there are two issues that are making it difficult to bridge the gap between AR technology and adoption by brands. First, a lot of brands are still not very clear about how AR can exactly help them. Second, there is still a shortage of AR content available, or an inability to produce it affordably, even if the technology is already there.
Some of the people we speak to don’t even understand what AR is, how AR can help them or even just the basics of the technology, such as how they can activate AR experiences.
If you’re on the same plate, not to worry, in this article we cover all the basics you need to know about the benefits of AR and how you can use AR in your marketing strategies.
What is AR and what are the benefits of AR?
Augmented reality (AR) places interactive virtual objects within our world, via a mobile phone. This might be a face filter that adds layers of content to your face, or a world effect that places objects in the real world through your phone camera. Other interesting types of AR content include portals, which transport you to a location that you can explore in 360º, and mini-games, which are gamified face filters or world effects. You can find out more about different types of AR experiences here.
What’s really interesting about AR is that it allows marketers to involve consumers in a narrative in a way that wasn’t possible before. With everyone owning a smartphone, it is becoming a highly effective means to reach consumers.
The numbers really speak for themselves: Digi-capital projects a 3.5BN user base for mobile augmented reality by 2022, 44% of the world’s population. Likewise, ad spend is projected at $2.4 billion by 2022 yielding $15 billion in revenue. When looking at these figures, the impact and potential of AR is hard to deny. It’s going to be huge.
Data shows that AR is the future of Media & Marketing
What we’re also seeing is that media and marketing are increasingly trending from video towards more immersive content, such as AR.
In fact, more than ⅘ of brands consider AR marketing a differentiated way to engage with customers, and 9 out of 10 plan on using AR in their campaigns. This trend is a direct response to the data on engagement for AR vs non-AR experiences: AR provides average dwell times of 75 seconds, a whopping 4 times longer than video. Moreover, AR experiences generate a 70% higher memory response compared to non-AR experiences, meaning that these kinds of experiences make brands much more memorable to consumers and directly affect purchasing behaviour. Simply put: the more they remember you, the more likely they are to buy your products.
Higher engagement from AR experiences has other side benefits too. Due to the nature of AR, a lot of effects are distributed on social media, allowing brands to amass large followings by providing users with fun effects that they want to share. Moreover, users themselves will share this AR content with their followers, simply because they like it, making AR a much more effective way to generate word-of-mouth compared to video. This leads to even more positive brand awareness!
What can brands achieve with AR?
Contrary to common belief, AR is not just about bunny ear face filters. There are actually many ways in which brands can leverage AR to increase engagement and sales. We have identified four major ways:
AR is a great way to tell a story and educate consumers, because it allows you to directly immerse them within your narrative.
We recently worked with Jack Daniels to develop an AR effect that educated their customers about the production process of their famous whiskey. Customers visiting Slug & Lettuce restaurants in the UK and ordering the Jack Daniels-based Lynchburg Lemonade were given a special card containing a QR code, which they could scan to access the AR effect. This redirected them to a mobile website where they could access a fun face filter, as well as three portals that transported them to the Jack Daniels distillery.
This was a great way of educating customers about the production process of their whiskey, while showing them that they deeply care about the quality of their product.
If you’ve ever used the IKEA Place app, you will know how handy it is when it comes to visualising furniture in your home. We worked on a similar project recently with Orendt, creating a product visualisation AR effect that allows users to virtually place furniture in their home and observe its look and functionality, as well as whether it physically fits.
This is part of a wider trend of AR use in Retail, allowing retailers to sell more by reassuring customers that they are making the right purchasing choices through visualisation. It also has the added benefit of reducing product returns.
For example, our effect for Speedo helped the company sell more swimming goggles online and avoid customers tearing multiple boxes in-store in order to try goggles on. So a single AR effect has benefited the company in multiple ways.
Everyone wants to be involved, which is why immersive content is all the rage. Indeed, wanting to be involved is the biggest drive behind social media activity. Enter branded AR effects and you can now actively involve your following in your effects and encourage them to share your brand.
This was the case in our project with Big Shaq. The AR effect allowed fans to sing along to his latest track, as well as to place a model figure of him within their physical environment. The effect led to more than 20 million impressions, with no media spending behind it. It was all organic!
At the end of the day, because of the shareable nature of AR, as long as users like your AR effect they will share it. It’s really the perfect word-of-mouth sharing tool.
Finally, gamification is a unique feature of immersive technologies such as AR which shouldn’t be underestimated! Providing users with a fun experience is a great way to cultivate a positive brand image.
We worked with industry royalty King, the makers behind the Candy Crush Saga games, to develop a Snapchat mini-game. The game is based on a face filter and requires you to open your mouth in order to “catch” falling candy, which then form a bubble around your head. The mini-game was hugely popular and led to very positive user engagement and ROI.
In conclusion: what can AR do for my brand?
To recap, here’s a summary of everything we covered in the article:
- AR can help you create a personalised immersive brand experience that delights and leaves a lasting brand memory.
- AR is a great way of gaining high engagement on social platforms, with the right targeted audience.
- Social media-based AR effects will lead to an increase in social media followers.
- Social media AR also encourages users to share your effect, generating a world of brand ambassadors for you, who use this branded experience to live and tell their own story.