Both virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are hot topics right now. While these technologies have been around for a while, we’re only just starting to see widespread applications. It’s no longer just gaming and high-tech companies that are using AR and VR for marketing purposes. Let’s look at some ways that your business can benefit from augmented reality marketing.
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Differences Between VR and AR
Virtual reality is familiar to more people than augmented reality, though the two overlap. VR is an artificial, computer-generated experience most widely used in gaming. This technology enhances many kinds of entertainment, which is why we’re now seeing new VR centers popping up. It’s likely that VR will play a large role in the future of theme parks, arcades, and live entertainment. VR also has applications in many other areas, such as simulating experiences for training. VR is very useful, for example, in flight training. In order to experience VR, you need special equipment such as goggles, which is a serious limitation.
Augmented reality integrates VR with real life by using computer generated effects. It’s now possible to create AR effects on web pages, videos, emails, and text messages. For marketing purposes, AR has a wider range of applications than VR, at least for now. If you want to reach people watching TV or browsing the internet, you can’t assume they’re wearing VR goggles. AR, however, lets you provide an enhanced experience to anyone who’s viewing your content, whether it’s on a website or in an email or text message. The growth of AR overlaps with another big trend: mobile devices. According to the Global Mobile Augmented Reality Market Research Report, the mobile AR market will grow more than 65% from 2017 to 2021. Let’s explore some of the uses of augmented reality marketing:
AR Billboards and Public Advertisements
It’s getting harder and harder to capture people’s attention in public. A typical billboard is seldom sufficient to get the average pedestrian, driver, or commuter to look up from his or her phone. Augmented reality gives businesses a way to create exciting and unpredictable experiences. For example, Pepsi created an augmented reality campaign in London at bus shelters. Dramatic lifelike effects such as tigers, aliens, and meteors jumped out at people in the street. It’s likely that more companies will use this type of marketing in the future.
More Compelling and Informative Ads
According to Socintel360, spending on augmented reality advertising in 2017 will be $12.8 billion. Augmented reality makes it possible to create ads that are more entertaining, interactive and informative. AR lets viewers see products in a more realistic manner. More importantly, with AR ads, it’s possible to manipulate items and quickly see different customizations. For example, companies that make furniture and accessories can let customers see how items will look in their homes. IKEA and other companies have effectively used this technique.
The same is true for fashion. In the past, customers could only see how a single outfit looked on a model. Now, it’s possible to use AR to change items instantly. Sephora is one of the leaders in this area. Mobile apps allow people to see how clothing, jewelry, and accessories look on them. There are many ways that AR helps businesses showcase their products. Sephora features AR mirrors to show customers how cosmetics will look on them.
Let Customers See a Place Up Close
One of the most promising uses of AR is to give people a realistic depiction of a place they’ve never actually seen. There are numerous applications for this, such as real estate agents giving clients virtual tours of properties. Hotels and resorts can similarly show potential customers their amenities. Prospective university students can see campuses without having to visit them in person. Retail stores, restaurants, and other businesses can give customers a feeling of the atmosphere with mobile apps.
AR Apps: Fulfilling the Promise of QR Codes
Several years ago, QR codes were a popular technology that let smartphone users access websites by pointing their cameras at the codes. QR codes, however, never really got off the ground due to certain technical setbacks. For example, there were multiple incompatible platforms, making it hard to create a QR code that everyone could access. Additionally, QR codes are intrinsically unattractive, making it hard to connect them with glamorous or exciting products. Finally, QR codes only send the user to a single landing page.
While there are still many useful applications for QR codes, AR apps are filling the gap and opening up new possibilities. With an AR app, people can easily point their phones at normal-looking image and access customized, 3D content. These apps can work both online and offline. Customers in a grocery store, for example, might quickly access ingredients and nutritional information. Magazine readers can access interactive ads.
Games Using AR Apps
There are many opportunities for companies to incorporate AR games into marketing campaigns. Yet, you don’t have to create your own game to profit from this trend. It’s often easier to piggyback on games that are already popular, such as Pokémon Go, the game created by Niantic Labs that quickly grew into a worldwide phenomenon. There are various ways for businesses to cash in on Pokémon Go, such as by stocking essential game accessories. There’s no reason to think that Pokémon Go will be the only immensely popular game of its kind.
Before the spread of Pokémon Go, geocaching was a similar type of game, if less commercial. Geocaching has players searching for hidden objects in the real world. This principle is now incorporated in several augmented reality apps. With any game, there’s the potential for monetization. People enjoy games that use AR apps because they connect the digital world with the real world. Businesses can profit from this trend by creating their own games or by profiting with existing ones.
Augmented Reality Marketing: Endless Possibilities
These are just some of the potential ways that augmented reality enhances marketing. We are still in the very early days of AR, so all of the future possibilities are difficult to imagine at this point. As this technology advances and gets more affordable, it will be easier for smaller businesses to take advantage of it. AR helps to bridge the divide between the digital and offline world.
Have you seen any examples of companies using VR or AR in their marketing efforts? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
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