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Augmented reality (AR) is quickly becoming one of the most popular ways to market your business. In fact, AR has already been used effectively by companies like Amazon, Ikea and Coca-Cola.
It’s easy to see why: augmented reality marketing gives you the ability to reach your audience in new and interesting ways.
But what exactly is augmented reality? It’s a technology that allows consumers to interact with digital content through various devices, including mobile phones, headsets, glasses and more.
Here, we explore the benefits and challenges of AR marketing and sales, providing real-life examples of successful campaigns. Gain all the insights you need below, or skip to the bit you need:
Augmented reality for marketing makes it possible for customers to visualise products or immerse in experiences they may otherwise have trouble imagining. The technology leverages devices, such as smartphones and tablets, to provide users with interactive and engaging experiences.
Applications of augmented reality for marketing include virtual try-on experiences, interactive games, educational content and much more. The limit of AR marketing is only limited by imagination.
When you invest in augmented reality marketing, you can connect with your audience in ways that go beyond traditional advertising methods such as billboards, print, and TV. Augmented reality marketing is transforming the way that businesses interact with their customers, offering new opportunities for entertainment, education, and engagement.
There are two main types of AR used for marketing, including marker-based and markerless. Learn more about how augmented reality works here.
Marker-based AR still has its uses, but was far more popular in the early 2010s when AR became accessible to the general population. Marker-based AR uses a recognisable image (marker) to trigger digital content in real-time.
In marketing, marker-based AR is often used to create interactive and engaging experiences for customers. For example, a retailer could use marker-based AR to allow customers to scan a product’s packaging and see a 3D model of the product or an informative video.
For example, Engine Creative, the creators of REYDAR, were among the first to embrace augmented reality technology and had the opportunity to work on marker-based AR projects at an early stage. One of the earliest marker-based AR projects we worked on was an AR album cover for The Ting Tings, check it out:
This type of AR marketing can also be used to create virtual try-on experiences, allowing customers to see what a product would look like on them before making a purchase. Marker-based AR is also commonly used in advertising campaigns where markers can be placed in magazines, posters, or billboards to provide a unique and memorable experience for consumers.
As you’ve probably guessed by now, markerless AR marketing doesn’t require a recognisable image (marker) to place digital objects in the real world. Instead, markerless AR works by creating maps of the environment using a technology called SLAM (simultaneous localisation and mapping), allowing digital elements to be placed and locked into fixed points in space. Here are some common types of markerless AR marketing:
Location-based AR: With location-based AR, devices will use GPS and other sensors to place virtual objects in the user’s environment based on location. One of the most well-known types of location-based AR marketing comes from Snapchat and partnering brands, which will allow users to use certain lenses based on their location.
Object recognition and tracking: This type of AR will use a camera and collected data to analyse an environment to track and place digital objects in the real world. This type of AR marketing growing in popularity within eCommerce, as it allows users to experience products in their own space before making a purchase. Try out the example below, view the printer in 3D before pressing the AR button and pinging it into your own space:
Projection AR: Projection-based AR marketing is incredibly unique as this type of AR uses a projector (what a surprise) as its device to create interactions on real-world surfaces. This type of Ar marketing is often used at events or trade shows to showcase products in a unique and engaging way, without even needing the product there.
Augmented reality marketing is a rapidly growing field that can provide businesses with a wealth of benefits that won’t be found with traditional marketing channels. With AR, brands can build interactive and immersive experiences that can build brand awareness, increase engagement, and boost sales. Here are some of the top benefits of AR marketing:
Create memorable experiences with AR marketing campaigns
One of the main benefits that augmented reality marketing offers is its ability to create memorable experiences that stand out in otherwise saturated markets. By utilising AR to provide unique and personalised experiences, you can create a lasting impression on customers that builds brand loyalty over time.
The interactivity and personalisation of AR marketing sets it apart from traditional campaigns. It brings products and services to life through 3D visuals and animations tailored to each user. This not only shows the unique value proposition of your brand, but forges meaningful connections with customers. With AR technology becoming more accessible, brands have an opportunity to be at the forefront with innovative AR campaigns that capture consumer attention.
Get valuable data and insights
Not all of the benefits are customer-focused, AR can provide valuable data and insights about consumer behaviour. User engagement can be tracked on AR experiences to gain a deeper understanding of your target audience. This data can then be used to improve current practices or inform future activity, it can also be used to provide targeted recommendations to customers based on their activity.
Increase customer satisfaction, decrease customer returns
Although this won’t apply to every form of AR marketing, it certainly applies to those within the retail and eCommerce space. It is reported that 49% of online shoppers return items every year, being one of the biggest issues within the eCommerce industry.
AR essentially allows users to try before they buy, helping to boost customer satisfaction, and customer confidence and combat the number of returns.
Who doesn’t want a competitive advantage? Marketing with augmented reality can set you apart from your competitors as well as provide users with an incredibly unique experience. Research shows that 57% of customers say that they are more likely to buy from a brand if they offer augmented reality experiences.
Creating this competitive advantage early is key, as although AR marketing is growing in popularity, the majority of brands are still ignoring it, meaning now is the best time to get a head start before AR becomes a regular feature that all brands offer.
Boost customer engagement
Augmented reality marketing can help to cut through the marketing noise and its naturally immersive and interactive nature can increase dwell time, and engagement and improve the overall customer experience.
Augmented reality marketing is incredibly versatile, and can be integrated into traditional channels to create a brand experience that lasts longer than ever before. For example, QR codes can be added to marketing collateral such as brochures, posters or samples for a combination of traditional and physical experiences.
Educate your audience
AR marketing can be created to educate audiences by providing experiences that allow users to learn in a more engaging and conventional way rather than perhaps relying on them to read text.
For example, interactive product demonstrations can be used to teach audiences about product features and functionality. Museums could provide AR tours, allowing audiences to gain additional knowledge in a unique and memorable way. Or perhaps AR could be used to promote training courses, providing a level of real experience.
Brands that work to educate their customers are also seen as more trustworthy and reliable, meaning that relationships with audiences are built more effectively.
Source: AR – Changing the face of Retail
Source: Retail Customer Experience
Source: The Drum
At REYDAR, we have been developing AR marketing campaigns since 2010 and have seen our fair share of good and bad AR marketing efforts. In this section we will explore some of the best examples of AR marketing campaigns various industries have seen to date.
Pepsi Max: Unbelievable Bus Shelter
This is one of our favourite AR campaigns that comes from Pepsi Max, which came out back in 2014, this campaign used an AR screen and camera to make it look like unbelievable scenes were happening in real-time, offering a big sock to the passing commuters.
This AR marketing campaign was probably the real use of AR marketing some had seen, and accumulated millions of views online going viral thanks to its uniqueness and genuine shock factor.
Argos: AR shopping app
While AR can’t make decisions for you, it certainly can help. The AR shopping app we created in 2018 in partnership with Argos allowed customers the power to preview furniture items in their homes through their smartphone camera. Check it out below.
Gorillaz: AR live show
At the end of 2022, the globally known band Gorillaz took over New York’s Times Square and London’s Piccadilly Circus for two augmented reality live performances to promote their new single ‘Skinny Ape’. This AR marketing campaign fell worked perfectly with this band and their famous animated characters, who had the chance to look more real than ever before.
L’Oréal: Makeup Genius
The L’Oréal Makeup Genius app lets consumers try on makeup products using their smartphone camera. It also recommends products based on your activity and search history.
Gucci: Virtual try-on
AR in retail marketing aims to make customers feel more confident in their purchases by letting them see what products will look like before buying. Gucci’s virtual try-on app did exactly that, allowing customers to check out how their sneakers/trainers would look on their feet using their smartphone before making a purchase.
Machine A: Virtual concept store
One of the most unique examples of AR marketing came from Machine A, a contemporary fashion brand based in London. With London’s fashion week being cancelled due to Covid, Machine A created a virtual store to enable as many people as possible to view work from emerging designers. Check it out below.
As we have mentioned AR marketing has the potential benefits that can totally change your customer’s experience, engagement, and brand perceptions. But just like every technology and practice in marketing, there are some potential challenges and considerations that need to be taken into account. Here are some of the top ones you need to keep in mind:
Augmented reality marketing involves a complex development process that can obviously pose some risks:
Compatibility issues – Different AR devices and platforms have different technical requirements, and making them work seamlessly across all devices and platforms can be quite challenging.
Quality assurance – AR experiences can be unpredictable when not built, tested and implemented by experts, this could leave your AR campaign prone to technical difficulties and poor user experiences.
Complexity – AR marketing experiences can seem a little daunting or complex for customers who might not have used them before. It is important to ensure that your augmented reality marketing campaign is intuitive and offers a user guide, or examples.
User first – AR is not a novelty, it has to provide a purpose and genuinely benefit the customer in their journey. With this in mind, the experience must be designed around your audience, and not just developed to show that you can offer unique experiences, else it would be a hefty investment for not much return.
Accessibility – Similar to the point above, the user should always come first, this means that the AR marketing campaign needs to be inclusive to your whole target audience. This includes users that may have disabilities.
Expertise – Developing AR marketing campaigns requires specialised experts to ensure they are executed correctly, as mentioned earlier entrusting the wrong people could cause a chain reaction of negative implications or issues.
Maintenance – The initial build is one thing, but don’t forget about maintenance and updates. Your AR campaign may run excellently on launch, but will it work on new software updates or hardware changes? Getting the most out of your investment is key.
Content creation – Developing high-quality AR campaigns requires specific skills and resources, including 3D model creation, animations, coding, videos, sound design, and more.
How will AR fit? – One of the biggest challenges when developing an AR campaign is understanding how AR is going to fit into your overall brand messaging and communication. You need to ensure that AR marketing is consistent with your brand messaging, and values, and resonates with your audience.
Measuring success – Another key aspect to consider is the measurement, how does your AR campaign contribute to your overall marketing goals, and what metrics are you going to track? How are you going to track them? And what are you going to do with the data?
We doubt you’d be reading this post if you had an in-house team to conquer all of the above challenges and considerations to keep in mind when developing an AR marketing campaign. The likelihood is that you will need some help to navigate the development of your campaign.
At REYDAR we have been developing AR marketing campaigns for over a decade and have experience creating a wide range of AR solutions for many different industries that fulfil many unique purposes. If you need support with a current or future augmented reality marketing campaign, get in touch.
But no fear, if you’re still on the fence about whom to work with and need help picking the right agency, we’ve put together a guide to help you decide.
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