AR: the superpower for brands

The marketing sector can be a complicated place as new marketing tools and techniques are launched, almost on a weekly basis. Powered by The Drum Network, this regular column invites The Drum Network's members to demystify the marketing trade and offer expert insight and opinion on what is happening in the marketing industry today that can help your business tomorrow.

How should brands take advantage of Augmented Reality?

People are more attuned than ever before to advertising. There’s widespread exhaustion with constant selling, and as a result people want to be sold to, they want to be talked to. This means brands need to create campaigns that authentically focus on their users and provide meaningful experiences.

At the same time, it’s becoming increasingly clear that we live in two different worlds; the physical and the digital. The real world is full of meaning and, increasingly, the digital world is full of unrealised promise.

If only we had a way to combine the tangibility of the real world with the wild freedom that comes with digital? Enter Augmented Reality.

Enhancing the power of Augmented Reality

Using Augmented Reality (AR) can seamlessly merge these two worlds into one, creating an immersive digital experience at the touch of a button. It is the next superpower that will take companies from Peter Parker to Spiderman.

With around 1 billion users predicted by 2020, there’s a demand for AR and brave businesses are already using the technology to create experiences that increase engagement and boost sales. AR is quickly moving past being just a novelty and, I believe, is a superpower that brands need to stand out from the crowd.

Facebook recently launched SparkAR Studio, a way for users to create their own AR experiences, and Amazon is following in the footsteps of IKEA Place to create a shoppable AR experience. AR is already helping brands build exciting realities themselves.

With great power…

So how do we use it? Take for example, Google Maps who used AR to enhance user’s navigation. By combining Street View and Maps data with a live camera feed, Google gave real world directions mixed with a personalised digital view. Aside from looking great, this solves the all-too-familiar problem of getting lost. This an innovative way to add value to something used regularly, while solving a problem in a unique way; never again will people get lost following that rogue blue dot.

Digital agencies are starting to create tailored AR campaigns for clients, creating apps and experiences that attract audiences and gets people talking about the brand; just like Pepsi did.

While software developers are building new ways to enhance real world experiences like shopping, TV watching and even political campaigning. AR is not just about selling a product or need, but about a new strategy which merges the real and digital to add value.

…comes great responsibility

This superpower means putting your audience first, it means knowing the needs of your users and it means providing them with something relevant. You cannot build a meaningful experience in AR without an intimate and nuanced knowledge of your customers.

L’Oréal allowing users to try on makeup is a great example of this people first mentality; they rightly recognised that people want to try on makeup before they make a purchase, and this is a massive barrier to buying online. Through clever use of facial recognition they developed a way for customers to try on their products using just a smartphone.

AR doesn’t have to be the only part of your campaign, I’d argue that it actually shouldn’t be. AR works best when it can enhance and bounce off (literally, sometimes) the physical world, just like the Guinness Book of World Records did.

Why not take it one step further? By creating content that is enhanced by AR, companies can then slap on an irresistible personal augmented CTA, that is likely to boost sales; just like Converse did with its Converse Sampler App.

What will you do with your superpower?

According to Markets and Markets, the AR market was around $4.21 billion in 2017 and will rise to an impressive $60.55 billion by 2023. AR allows people to be the centre of their favourite brand’s and companies’ ideas. In fact, I’d argue that AR is one of the first true person-centric marketing approach. Brands can now reach their audience in a more personal, targeted and impactful way than ever before.

With the right strategy in place, and ambitious marketers behind it, AR can elevate the way we engage with our audiences and how we advertise our products. The only question is, are you ambitious enough to embrace your new superpowers?

Victoria Adeniji is creative producer at RocketMill

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