Augmented Reality’s Impact on the Marketing Industry
Augmented reality (AR) presents a unique and highly interactive experience for users. Although technology businesses have utilised AR for years, more and more marketing agencies see the impact the capabilities have on their clients and their own promotional needs.
What exactly is augmented reality? Unlike virtual reality, where people enter a new world and interact via a headset, with augmented reality, customers can plug virtual elements into a view of the actual world around them.
One example might be a local theatre where you download an app, hold your phone to the screen and can suddenly play a live video game with other moviegoers.
Brands such as IKEA utilise an app that lets you place a product in a room of your home. You can see how it looks in different places or with various colour options.
Why Is Augmented Reality Important in Marketing?
Research shows that 61% of consumers prefer to shop with AR technology and are more likely to frequent retailers offering the option. As augmented reality and virtual reality (VR) become more commonplace, consumers increasingly look to them to fill the gap.
Although more popular in the last few years, AR is still a bit of a novelty, so you’ll gain an edge over the competition. Others may not yet be using it.
However, the devices customers own are more than capable of working within the parameters of AR marketing. More people than ever before use smartphones and tap into high-speed internet and 5G wireless networks.
Most marketing firms already use various technologies as part of their creative process and analyse how well a campaign performs. When you realise how rapidly AR implementation grows, you’ll change how you think about marketing and adding features to what you already do. Here are the various ways augmented reality impacts the industry and how you can improve your marketing efforts by using it.
1 – Create Interactive Ads
People get inundated with advertisements from the minute they open their eyes until they close them at night. The average person hears radio ads, sees billboards, watches commercials–sometimes even while streaming–and sees numerous ads online.
To be effective in a sea of clamouring noise competing for attention, you have to stand out with something out of the norm. Fortunately, AR allows you to put your user in the campaign and get them involved.
Instead of looking at a movie poster, a person can point their smartphone at a section and watch the scene come to life.
2 – Expand Your Reach
Experts estimate that augmented reality has the capacity to reach 3.5 billion iOS and Android systems. Since people keep their smartphones at their fingertips, you have a chance to reach the majority of users any time they’re on their devices.
Rather than only being subject to putting an ad in front of them when they check their email or log on to social media, you can ping them via an app or send a VR SMS inviting them to try out a product virtually.
Because VR is still fun for most people, you may expand your reach via more shares and interest.
3 – Snapchat Your Way to New Customers
Social platform Snapchat is currently experimenting with using AR for shopping. Snapchat already offered lenses and filters for entertainment, but now they’re experimenting with lenses for shopping.
Try on a jacket in the comfort of your own home, test new makeup, etc. In addition to seeing how a virtual item looks in real life, shoppers can get real-time prices and descriptions and link to an ordering page.
Since the use of AR for Snapchat shopping is still relatively new, you may be able to get in on the ground floor and market your products in a way your competitors haven’t yet discovered. Develop a following now to market to your core audience in the future.
4 – Offer Immersive PR Opportunities
In the past, travel destinations and other special occasions were limited to journalists from more prominent publications due to costs. However, with augmented reality, you can open an event to everyone in the media, even the small-time blogger and expand your reach more than you ever dreamed possible.
Do a virtual walkthrough and let users make their experience individual by choosing the path they take. Allow them to grab a painting off the wall and put it in their living room to study it in depth. Look for ways to make the experience unlike anything else, and you’ll get free press and word-of-mouth marketing.
5 – Step Into the Future
Mixed reality is the next big wave of the future. Technology is accelerating at a faster pace than anyone expected ten years ago. Rather than just using AR or VR, many marketing experts envision a world where users wear glasses that shift from the real world to AR and even into VR.
What does this look like in action? On your lunch break, you’re walking down the street, figuring out where to eat. As you pass the local Italian restaurant, your glasses shift to the interior with a note about how many tables are empty and how long the wait might be.
You want something light, so you walk a few more paces and zoom in on a poster in front of a local movie theatre. A short preview plays. You finally come to a deli when the daily specials appear behind your lenses.
As technology advances, people will interact with it in more intuitive and exciting ways to put information at their fingertips and make daily tasks easier.
6 – Tap Into Experiential Marketing
Experiential has been a buzzword in the marketing industry for several years. Some examples include a store where you enter, and it seems as though you’ve gone under the sea and come out deep in the ocean.
However, experiential marketing becomes even easier with the use of augmented reality. For example, someone is in the market for a new car, but the local car lots are empty due to market demand and a shortage of computer chips.
Enter augmented reality, where the user can instead download an app or visit the website and test the car as though they are behind the wheel. Depending on your product, you may have to ship equipment to potential customers or ask them to use things they already own.
As AR becomes more and more commonplace, expect technology companies to come out with lenses and gaming-type equipment that works across different industries and multiple purposes. Much as homes added Alexa and then smart devices and eventually went to fully smart living, expect AR and VR to take a similar path and become easier to implement with time.
However, now is when you should familiarise yourself with using it and gain an edge. Once the market becomes saturated, you’ll need to find new ways of getting the word out about your brand.
7 – Personalised Designs
There’s a secret in marketing: they are much more likely to buy from you if you can get the user invested. Use VR to personalise a design and let your customers change the colour, add initials, or change features.
Of course, how much you can personalise depends on your business model and the product you’re selling. Still, anything you can do to get customers invested means more significant changes in revenue.
The more time someone spends on your product page playing around with different combinations, the more likely they will buy.
8 – Engage Virtually
The COVID-19 pandemic changed many things for small businesses and consumers. People shifted the way they shop and what matters most to them. Researchers found that 69% of consumers expected to use AR and VR to sample products in a recent report. Another 63% said they’d use it to visit a remote location rather than risking travel.
There are so many ways to engage users via AR and VR. For example, you can let them try out the software, walk around your store, and even try a product in different settings. Travel agencies might sell a virtual experience rather than a real-life one.
Host an event where they can plug their company logo into a booth or otherwise engage via a smartphone. Sure, you can tap into some of the equipment in development for mixed reality, but are people going to want to carry items around or drag them out of the closet?
If you can develop your marketing to work with something they already carry most of the day, it’s much more likely that your audience will tap into your augmented reality marketing campaigns and engage.
9 – Design Filters
We talked a bit about Snapchat shopping lenses, but don’t overlook the use of filters as a fun AR effect that gets your brand name out there and raises awareness. Snapchat and Facebook both offer an opportunity to add filters.
You can create a filter for a holiday or cause or just for fun for people to add to their Facebook profiles. Try not to be spammy and throw your logo all over the filter. However, it’s okay to share it on your page and even add a link in the description.
For Snapchat, remember how much people like to have fun on the platform. Dear noses and bunny ears are some filters people use frequently. How can you tap into Snapchat’s fun side and find something related to your brand and what you offer?
For example, if you sell makeup, you might create a makeup filter highlighting some of your popular palettes. If you run an online store for beach equipment, add some beach-themed filters.
10 – Reach Gaming Audiences
The global pandemic also impacted the gaming community. People were forced to work, socialise, study and shop from the comfort of their homes. They turned to mixed reality to supplement real-life in many instances.
According to eMarketer, approximately 93.3 million people use AR once per month. Experts estimate the number is around 28.1% of the United States’ population. The number presents enormous potential for marketers to reach new audiences.
When focusing on your AR marketing efforts, look for ways to reach the younger crowd and grow your customer base in groups you’ve not reached before.
Those who enjoy gaming come from all socioeconomic backgrounds, races and cultures. Utilising gaming to add some AR marketing into the mix can give you access to nearly any audience you might imagine. You can also filter the results much as you would with any social media platform.
11 – Give Customers the Power
One of the biggest pet peeves of most consumers is feeling they’ve been duped into buying something that doesn’t live up to the hype. When you offer an AR experience, you put the power in their hands and let them try out the product on their terms.
There are still ways unscrupulous companies can trick consumers, but it isn’t relatively as easy when the person has a 360-degree view of the product. Consider the real estate industry as an example. Realtors can post pictures from a certain angle and make a dump look amazing.
However, when they do a 360-degree video, the opportunity to misrepresent the property lessens. The person moves the screen in any direction to view from all sides and even from above. Customers are empowered to see more and learn more about the product.
12 – Continued Hybrid Changes
Although AR is a powerful marketing tool, the reality of marketing is that it will likely take a mixed approach. As people continue to work from home, attend virtual classes and socialise online, technology will keep pace.
We may completely change the AR we understand today in a few years. Stay on top of advances, implement them as it makes sense and seeks new ways to reach your customers where they are.
As you implement the technology, remember that AR is supposed to be fun for the user. Look for exciting ways to interact with your customers and enjoy the process. If it isn’t fun, they aren’t likely to stick around or tell their family and friends. Get creative and see what results in augmented reality brings to your marketing efforts.
Author Bio: Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. Before becoming a full-time freelance designer, she was the creative director at a digital marketing agency. Eleanor lives in Philly with her husband and pup, Bear.