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AR gives marketers the ability to transform a static object, such as a printed advertisement or magazine cover into a 3D experience. AR differs from virtual reality. Virtual reality operates by fully immersing the user. AR adds to the world the user would normally see and enhances it using digital overlays.
How AR works
A user scans an AR trigger, the AR app will search for patterns of images or video to display over the view from the devices camera. As the person moves the device, the AR overlay will also move. This allows the user to view the projected information from different angles.
There are two versions of AR technology currently in use:
- Marker-based AR – Marker based AR uses a 2D marker. E.g. a QR code, barcode or watermark. When the user points a device at one of these markers, it triggers the AR experience.
- Markerless AR – Markerless AR can use any part of the real world as the trigger to launch an AR experience. The markerless trigger could be an image or a location. AR apps installed on phones can use GPS information to trigger AR.
The uses of AR
- Information Overlay – Augmented Reality provides a fantastic way for customers to uncover additional information via the viewing of an object. This might be a textual information that appears by the object, or related 3D models and video animations. The British Museum created an AR app which can be used by visitors to view information about the objects on display.
- Virtual Objects – AR allows you to communicate with customers while allowing them to explore your products. For example, the IKEA AR campaign. This allowed users to view items from the furniture catalogue displayed as if they were in their own home. The app adjusted the size of the products so they matched the dimensions of the room, offering a true-to-life sized view.
- Digital Packaging – Packaging has always been a key way of communicating with customers. AR allows you to pass information onto your customers about the product while also having a little fun. Starbucks used AR as part of a Valentines Day marketing campaign. When customers downloaded the Starbucks AR app and pointed their smartphone at their cup of coffee, it was brought to life with a digital animation.
Benefits of AR
- Increased Brand Awareness – AR campaigns help to increase awareness of your brand by cultivating a “wow” factor. AR is particularly effective as raising awareness of your brand because the technology is relatively new and the experience of interacting with a brand via AR is still a novel experience.
- Increased Customer Engagement – According to studies, marketing campaigns which utilise AR have an average dwell time of 75 seconds. Traditional radio and TV ads have a dwell time of just 2.5 seconds.
- Improved Customer Experience – Integrating AR into your marketing campaigns can improve the customer experience, as your customers have more information at their disposal, and can make choices and complete transactions at greater speed.
- Bringing Digital to the Real World – Another benefit is the ability to link your digital marketing campaign to the customers in new and inventive ways. AR bridges traditional and digital marketing channels.
Looking to the future…
As companies such as Google and Facebook continue to develop AR viewing technology, and app developers continue to refine software, it is likely that AR will become a vital tool of any digital marketing campaign. By keeping up-to-date with AR developments, you can keep from falling behind in the digital marketplace.