Spending on augmented reality and virtual reality could exceed $20 billion in 2019. For a technology considered to be a gimmick just a few short years ago, that’s not too bad.
What’s changed people’s minds about AR in particular? Games like Pokemon Go brought the technology to the forefront of the public’s attention. Apps like Snapchat and Instagram offer filters, another form of AR.
While filters are fun, businesses have turned their attention to other potential uses. VR is being used in employee training and education.
You might ask more questions about what possible uses AR technology has for a business. Retailers have been experimenting with it to create interactive online shopping experiences.
Augmented reality marketing is one of the other uses business leaders are exploring. Although the field is still new, there’s good evidence it’s here to stay.
Defining Augmented Reality
Before we dive into why augmented reality technology is here to stay, a quick refresher is in order. What is augmented reality?
Most people are familiar with virtual reality, or VR. This is an immersive experience. The user finds themselves in a completely different “reality.”
To use VR, people often need to use a specialized headset or enter a specialized room. They’re then given visual input that corresponds to the world they’ve just entered.
Augmented reality doesn’t let you leave this plane of reality. It takes input about the world around you and overlays additional, virtual information.
A quick way to sort out AR vs VR is to remember VR is building a new world. AR builds on what already exists.
Examples of Augmented Reality Marketing
Snapchat filters are fun, but marketers have used AR in a variety of different ways. AR campaigns function on the same principle, adding information to what already exists.
A good example comes from Home Depot, which built an AR app to test paint colors. You snap a photo of the room you want to paint, then load it into the app. You can then virtually test different paint colors to see what they look like in the room.
If you’ve ever tried to pick a paint color by using tiny swatches, you know what an improvement this is. You may think the swatch color will look great. Half-way through painting the room, you realize it’s not what you expected.
Other examples of AR marketing abound. Think of 360-degree videos in video marketing campaigns from car makers. These videos let you take a virtual tour of the car, all without leaving the comfort of your living room.
You’ve likely seen this technology used in other places too. Hotels that give you the option to pan around the room you’re about to book is one. Google Street View uses it too.
Why it Works
It’s easy to see AR marketing as something of a gimmick at this stage. As more brands adopt it and stick with it, it’s easy to see why this marketing trend isn’t going to fade away any time soon.
There are many reasons for marketers to love AR, but the fact of the matter is it works. It can make the customer’s experience better. They can test out that paint, try on that pair of shoes, or build a new closet organizer.
This answers their questions. It also gives them the power to experiment and find something they love.
It’s convenient too. With the power of their smartphone, they can test out make-up or try on clothes anywhere, at any time.
It also creates an interactive experience. The customer is no longer a passive viewer watching an ad. With augmented reality advertising, they’re active participants in an immersive ad experience.
AR by the Numbers
The most striking thing about AR advertising campaigns is how willing people are to interact. AR can hold attention for more than a minute. Around a fifth of viewers will interact, and a third of those people will go on to make a purchase.
No doubt the novelty of AR plays into these rates at the moment. As AR becomes more commonplace, it will be up to brands to use the technology wisely.
Some poorly produced AR campaigns perform well right now. That won’t be the case in the future. Marketers will need to use AR strategically in the future.
Shaping Other Strategies
Right now, AR advertising is still new. Brands that have adopted it have been able to use it as a market differentiator.
That won’t last forever, especially not as more people get on board with AR in their marketing campaigns. As the market becomes more saturated, there will be a shift as AR informs other marketing strategies.
This is already happening in some companies. Marketers are allowing AR campaigns to shift their content marketing.
Furniture giant IKEA introduced an app that lets users to test out furniture in their own rooms. The app functions as an extension of the company’s famed catalog. It’s likely the two will become more integrated over time.
Makeup giant Sephora has done something similar with its app, which allows users to “try on” different makeup looks. The app also features tutorials and more tips about creating new looks. That content feeds back into the AR features, so users can virtually test a look or follow the tutorial.
It’s easy to come up with more AR ideas. Marketers can mine their existing content to add to AR experiences. They can also create new content around the AR experience.
The result will be more immersive and seamless experiences for your customers.
The Way of the Future
Augmented reality marketing is here to stay for the simple fact it works. As more companies come on board, marketers will need to put more thought and effort behind AR. Campaigns that seamlessly integrate with other strategies will create the best user experiences.
Wondering what else the future holds for marketing? Check out more informative and insightful articles on our blog.