Augmented Reality kicks gimmicky marketing out the (shop) door

Now, marketers recognise the huge potential AR has to grab our attention and allow us to engage with brands we love. It can tell a brand’s story and effectively integrate us into that story.

AR: Gimmick or Here to stay?
AR: Gimmick or Here to stay?

New technology can often be viewed as a gimmick when first entering our consciousness. This is partly because we don’t fully understand the opportunities it can offer and partly because as with all new things it takes time to establish itself in our everyday lives and for its full potential to be realised.

Augmented Reality (AR) can best be described as the blending of virtual objects into real-world settings and is now accessible through smartphone cameras, making it fully mainstream.

And brands have taken notice

Many more are embracing technology, and getting it right. They’re mixing storytelling and AR technology with great effect. And as the technology improves it’s likely this is just the beginning of a new age of very successful marketing.

In 2017 a trends report from Deloitte found that almost 90% of companies with turnovers between $100 million (£75.4 million) and $1 billion (£754 million) are now taking full advantage of AR or VR technology. And smaller firms are keen to jump on the trend too.

A poll conducted by Purch revealed that 10% of marketers utilise AR, and 72% are planning to in the coming year.

What does success look like?

To be successful, marketing campaigns need the right formula. They need to have the wow factor, to draw their audience in, to be convincing, engaging, obvious when explaining the product end use, and memorable. To sum up, they need to tell a story that we as an audience can connect with.

Engaging and useful

AR is perfectly poised to generate marketing campaigns that are neither gimmicky nor pointless and can deliver on all the necessary winning factors. When done correctly, users will become immersed in creativity and end-use choice.

A perfect example of such success is the Lacoste AR App which allows shoppers to try on trainers. It’s a fantastic way to enable shoppers to experience the range and for Lacoste to connect with their audience.

AR on billboards and in public spaces allows passers-by to immerse themselves in the brand experience and actively sparks conversations amongst viewers and on social media platforms.

One successful campaign was implemented by VISA which saw life-size giraffes, pandas, and penguins roaming amongst the public. Another was created by Timberland, who installed a virtual fitting room where people could try out clothes from the newest collection without actually wearing them.

AR is more than just entertainment

Early adopters have established AR’s potential with little room for doubt, provided campaigns are executed properly.

AR in a marketing campaign must provide interaction that’s both interactive and true to brand to communicate to customers effectively. It has to be an experience, and it has to provide value. Those that are getting it right are showing AR as a brand differentiator that allows convenience at a new level and one that leaves a lasting impression.

The opportunity to put products in the hands of the user

“Try before you buy” was and still is the golden calling card to potential customers. AR is making that an exciting and interactive possibility without requiring you to leave your armchair.

IKEA is a brand that has incorporated AR into their marketing strategy in a way that achieves exactly that. You can see how a piece of furniture, in the exact proportions, will look like in your own home.

And IKEA is not alone. WayFair has integrated AR into their digital catalogue, and Amazon (via their app) can now offer preview-in-place functionality on thousands of items.

But retailers are not the only ones wanting a slice of the AR pie. Art.com allow you to take a sneaky peak at over 2 million pieces of art before then customising the frame using AR. And Dulux allows you to plan your décor and visualise the finished effects of your walls.

Each of these examples shows how AR adds value to the experience, making the decision easier and making shopping more personalised and fun.

More than just shopping

AR is not limited to retail and commerce. Media companies are also exploring the potential of augmented reality. The Washington Post and The New York Times and are hoping to add value to news and sports reporting by getting audiences closer to the story using AR.

They recognise that despite modern camera technology, watching sports on TV is a two- dimensional experience. Their Olympians AR feature stories try to break this mould.  Viewers are invited to actively engaging by walking around the life-sized athletes suspended in action or see athletes race across your table.

The potential for AR to move beyond being seen as a novelty has been proven. And what we are witnessing is far beyond a mere novelty, which is here to stay. It’s affordable and has the potential to build brand loyalty, enhance user experience and overcome gimmicky marketing to create strong storytelling messages.