Imagine delivering a marketing strategy in real time. Customers and clients get to experience your product or service as it is meant to be used.
Augmented reality (AR) marketing takes the reins from virtual reality platforms to create a new, interactive consumer experience. It is so popular right now, its growth is expected to reach $117.4 billion by 2022. As little as five years ago, consumers knew little or nothing about this marketing tool. But AR has become a marketing strategy that businesses need to become educated on.
What Is Augmented Reality?
Have you ever watched a football game and seen the yellow line that highlights the distance between the ball and the first-down mark? What about when a tennis player challenges an "out" call and we see a line pivot toward the mark and a dark circle that marks the spot? These are examples of the first uses of augmented reality. Some date back almost 20 years.
So, what is augmented reality? It is the ability to integrate digital data into a real-time experience. Unlike virtual reality, which is popular among gamers, there are no bulky video headsets to contend with. New apps come out every day and smartphone users swoop them up.
AR marketing takes the available digital data and creates an integrated 3-D image of a product. It allows consumers to experience that product up close and personal. Watch how Lemon&Orange created AR experiences for different brands, including a virtual fitting room for the clothing brand Timberland.
With new technology and the incorporation of apps in almost every aspect of our lives, augmented reality has advanced and expanded. Today, it is used in sports, medicine, education and marketing. AR is the future.
Many retail stores are using AR marketing to impact consumers' buying decisions. Many of these interactive experiences are done through the use of apps accessible through smartphones and tablets.
For example, home improvement giants like Home Depot and Lowe's allow customers the chance to see paint colors before making a purchase. Home Depot describes its app as "bringing colors to life virtually." With this technology, users can choose a paint color by holding their smartphone up to a wall and seeing what the color will look like. Users can also see the wall in similar shades for comparison.
Taking 360 Video To The Next Level
Whether it's a Google Street View, a visual of a hotel room or a home for sale, 360 Video is a popular tool in marketing today. Using video in your digital marketing strategy has already become a big success. Add to it augmented reality marketing and those videos take on a life of their own.
For instance, Amikasa 3-D Room Designer allows users to virtually walk through their completed floorplans to determine if they like the concept created for them. Using 360 Video helps complete the finished product for the user and gives clients or potential customers an inside look at a business's service or product.
Hotels are beginning to see the benefits of AR in promoting a guest's true experience at its venue. Through apps, users are able to tour properties and get a 360 view of guest rooms, meeting facilities, restaurants and the pool area. In addition, guests will be able to make reservations, leave reviews and more through the app. Imagine being in the airport, holding your smartphone up to an ad on the wall, and seeing everything you need to know about the hotel on your smartphone.
But it's not only hotels that are going this route. Lipton Iced Tea took us inside the cup with their Magnificent Matcha Tea campaign. The video gives tea drinkers an animated experience. We get to live the life of a tea bag as it goes through the brewing process to become the perfect cup of tea. “The idea was to immerse the viewer in a cup of tea, and energize them with rich imagery and motion graphics that speak to each tea’s origin,” said Harun Zankel, the creative director at Carrot Creative, in a press release.
Social media has revolutionized marketing strategies. Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook use AR marketing to keep users engaged. For example, platforms like Snapchat use AR through filters. People of all ages think it's cool and fun to doctor their images with dog ears, cat whiskers and floral headbands.
The trend is so popular that Instagram now offers their own version of photo enhancements. Facebook's filter app is currently in beta stage, experimenting with the app to compete with Snapchat and lure younger users back to its platform.
Where Do We Go From Here?
As more augmented reality marketing takes hold, consumers will most likely abandon their desktops and laptops for better inclusion. This is hopeful news for businesses wanting to tap into the market and utilize social media platforms that attract their target audience. Imagine using AR glasses at a business or social gathering and being able to have public information of the nearby guests. You would know their names, occupation and other basic facts and information.
Brands that understand the possibilities of AR are developing apps that will allow them to create their own social media platforms. This is an opportunity to direct the course of their marketing without third-party influences. While utilizing marketing on popular social media platforms, you're competing with every other business. Why not be your own social media to a captivated audience?
We know what we want from augmented reality: We want entertainment and practical functionality put together. How these two requirements come together will be the deciding factor as to which platform leads the way.