How marketing can leverage Augmented Reality

At this year’s Social Media Week event in London, Blippar’s President of Global Marketing, Omaid Hiwaizi, discussed how Augmented Reality (AR) can be introduced into a brand’s marketing objectives, commenting: “AR allows brands to deepen interactions and continue conversations with the content attached to their products”. Witnessing the heightened frequency of AR usage in the past year has filled the team at Conscious Communications with excitement about the potential it presents for the world of digital marketing.

Campaigns that wouldn’t have been feasible before are now possible because of AR. AR gives you the opportunity to deliver a more enriching experience for your audiences because of the interactive element the technology could bring to your campaign, resulting in a deeper connection and an opportunity to engage with a wider audience across more meaningful touch points. Last year, Maybelline launched an AR campaign where over 5,700 people shared images of themselves on social media, virtually trying on new nail varnishes. One clear benefit was that it brought an ample amount of media coverage, but it also allowed the brand to create a list of Twitter users – ‘engaged customers’ who can be targeted again through tailored audience ads on the social network.

Hiwaizi continued: “We are naturally curious creatures; we constantly want to know more about the world around us. AR offers consumers an exciting opportunity to turn everyday objects into a learning experience. Scanning an apple can bring up recipes, the history, calorific value or other content that might be of interest.”

One of our favourite brands using AR to date is Disney and its Color and Play product, an AR colouring book app that lets you colour and watch the characters on the page come to life. Better yet, you don’t have to replace a crayon with a stylus as the app uses a digital overlay, enhancing engagement. This isn’t the first time companies have used AR to enhance traditional colouring books – there’s Quiver, Crayola Color Alive and Paint My Cat.

AR can also be utilised to leverage traditional offline marketing too – if you have an offline presence at a conference or event for example, AR can be used to bring your brand and proposition to life.  Your exhibition banner could have video pop outs which demonstrate or explain your services/products or could take the visitor to a direct landing page. Better yet, why not bring your humble business cards to life? AR will add a personal touch to networking, and you’re guaranteed to be remembered.

This year, AR has moved beyond the cool factor, and provides real value to its users. We can’t wait to see what brands and campaigns bring to the AR table.

How the other half live – offline

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As connectivity becomes more widespread and increasingly faster, many of us are clamouring to secure mobile phone or tablet tariffs which include endless data bundles. Habitually we find ourselves complaining if we stumble in to an area lacking in 4G, or are forced to use a venue which doesn’t offer high speed Wi-Fi.  68 percent of US adults don’t go an hour without checking their smart phones, while 75 percent of millennials are disconnected for only an hour per day.

In highly connected environments advertisers use connectivity to their advantage: displaying a short video clip or image keeps a viewer’s attention; a URL invites the audience to click for further information; buttons for sharing content are featured to ensure content is shared socially with other audience members. All of this activity is intended to encourage the audience to interact with, become more aware of, or purchase from the advertiser’s brand.

Do any of us ever stop and think about the real cost of each megabyte, outside of our inclusive bundles? Probably not… unless you’ve gone over your data allowance for the month, or you’re travelling abroad, at which point you realise how badly you rely on data day to day, and how difficult life becomes when you’re disconnected or rely solely on Wi-Fi.  

Only ten years ago we were largely unconnected, most of the time. We had mobile phones but they weren’t ‘smart’. Our desktop connections were wired. Facebook wasn’t yet an open system. Now, nearly half of the global population is online, with almost a third on social media.

What is life like for the other half of the population, who remain offline?

As well as the debate about the positive or negative social impact of being so connected, of which there are already many articles written, another difference between online and offline cultures is the influence advertisers hold. Brands and online platforms aren’t having the same impact (especially in the same way) in offline environments, and aren’t making as much money as they would like. They are not able to utilise the same practices which are working so well online.

Some are adapting to the different environments, for example Twitter’s acquisition of ZipDial – a mobile phone marketing start up. The popular South Asian practice of ‘missed calls’ is used by marketers to connect with people who are much less likely to visit a website – due to high costs and limited connectivity. By sharing a unique phone number (as opposed to a URL) on print or TV advertising, the call to action is to call the number but hang up before connecting, meaning the ‘enquiry’ is free of charge. The brand can then send out relevant information at no cost to the enquirer.

What are the barriers to connectivity?

The ‘missed call’ solution doesn’t seem to be sufficient for Mark Zuckerberg. The biggest barrier to online brands reaching people in third world countries may come as a surprise to many; it isn’t a lack of infrastructure which is the main hurdle, instead it is the cost of data. Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, has announced he is going to bring free internet connection to countries who are currently offline through the internet.org project, which will pave the way for online brands and online platforms to reach the half of the population who are currently (perhaps blissfully) unaware of the extent of marketing they are potentially about to become subjected to.

We look forward to seeing the extent to which Mark Zuckerberg’s initiative changes global connectivity, and the resulting changes to the way we communicate with each other and are marketed to.

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