The term “augmented reality” dates back to 1990 when Tom Caudell, a researcher at Boeing Corporation, used the term to describe a certain type of digital display. The display was used by aircraft electricians to blend virtual graphics on top of physical reality. Today, augmented reality (AR) is being used by companies that are looking to create memorable advertising campaigns and promotions. AR has grown into a huge global market that is projected to reach $61.39 billion by the year 2023. The following benefits of AR provide insight into why companies are using this innovative marketing strategy.
Augmented Reality vs. Virtual Reality
Augmented reality involves combining the physical world with the digital world. Virtual reality, on the other hand, is a computer-generated recreation of an environment in which users can immerse themselves. Augmented reality centers around creating a relationship between users and the physical world. Companies use augmented reality as a platform to keep users and consumers connected with their brand. Consumers can use their smartphone or tablet camera to look at the real world through a digital lens. With AR, they are able to interact with brand and product images before, during, and after they’ve made a purchase.
Benefits of Augmented Reality Advertising
One way to connect people with brands is to forge a memorable experience. Advertising strategies and games that use AR have the ability to create such an experience by making the interaction personal to the consumer. The immediate and sensory-driven connection established between the brand and consumers through AR makes for an emotional interaction. When consumers can see relevant objects in the augmented version of their own world, they develop a deep connection with the brand that resonates even when they are not using the AR platform.
Another aspect of AR’s interactive power involves geo-targeting. This capability is made possible by GPS data that is gathered from smartphones and other mobile devices. For example, the Belgian beer maker, Stella Artois, released a mobile app called Le Bar. The app uses GPS location technology to help users find the nearest bars that are currently pouring the Belgian pilsner. Consumers simply hold up their smartphones and follow the directional arrows that pop up. In addition to creating an interactive, city-based user experience, Stella Artois is facilitating the purchase of their product by leading consumers straight to the source.
Innovative Brand Image
Using AR is an innovative way to place brand images in the user’s line of sight, and develop heightened brand recognition. This is especially effective for those companies that are the first in their industry to take advantage of AR, and the novel ways it can evoke both an emotional and visceral consumer response.
Starbucks, for example, launched their Starbucks Cup Magic app, which lets customers animate their red cup with holiday-themed characters. This brings the brand image to life, making it much more memorable for the user. Augmented reality and its content can quickly build a company’s brand, providing visibility and interaction in near unlimited variety.
Another benefit of AR is its ability to establish repetitive engagement. In terms of gaming, users come back repeatedly to play, which exposes them to the brand over and over again. This repeat engagement provides companies with an extremely cost effective advertising method. Sometimes, the strategy only requires the startup costs involved in creating the AR game or platform. Companies then continue to reap the benefits of repeated exposure. This digital, interactive strategy is much different than ‘traditional’ advertising. For example, consumers can quickly flip through magazine ads and forget them. And television ads, which can be pricey to produce and air, can only run a certain number of times based on the media buy.
The viral power of AR can be seen in Pokemon Go. This game became very popular, very quickly. It motivated players to locate hidden Pokemon characters in the real world. The physical settings were real, while the cartoon characters were digital, and could only be seen through a digital device. This is a prime example of the benefits of AR’s repeat engagement. Pokemon Go became an addictive game. It quickly gained a record-setting number of users who not only played individually, but involved their friends as well.
As technology changes the way consumers find, engage with, and purchase products, companies need to find innovative ways to gain brand visibility. Augmented reality provides a unique opportunity to connect with customers in ways that traditional print, radio, and televisions cannot. Brands that invest in interactive AR campaigns can quickly reach a large number of consumers, more robustly connect with prospective buyers, and more easily motivate users to interact with their brands on a repeated basis.
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