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Augmented Reality (AR) is set to take over the world, with the global AR market predicted to reach around $198B by 2025 (source: Statista). It comes as no surprise that AR is expected to rise to such heights, especially since social media channels are already using AR tech to help brands create more engaging and results-driven ads. In 2018, Facebook tested out AR ads, with brands like Michael Kors and Sephora putting its features to the test. In 2019, China’s top social channel WeChat introduced its AR Mini Program, allowing customers to ‘try before they buy’ from brands like Armani. Instagram are also busy testing similar AR shopping experiences. So AR is a tool that marketers need to put to use this year.

But what is AR?

Put simply, AR technology provides users with an interactive experience, which enhances or alters their natural surroundings. Pokémon GO is perhaps the most obvious example of AR tech. In 2016, the Pokémon GO phenomenon saw millions flocking to the streets in order to discover an array of pokémon appearing on their in-mobile game with real world surroundings. According to Business of Apps, in 2016, Pokémon GO players collectively walked 8.7 billion km in search of virtual Pokémon (enough distance to reach the end of the Solar System). Clearly, gamers were relishing the AR experience. But what makes AR so great from a marketing perspective? Let’s take a look at some of our favourite AR campaigns to find out…

The product tester

 

AR allows customers to test products wherever they are, whenever they like, thus enhancing a brand’s online offering. For example, the IKEA Place app meant customers could enjoy the Ikea experience without leaving their home. The app was designed to help customers virtually test Ikea products in their homes. IKEA Place ensured that anything from beds to tables would fit their designated spaces, both aesthetically and physically. The AR furniture could be scaled with 98% accuracy (source: Mobile Marketer). Consequently, customers were given a cheap and reliable method of testing the goods before purchasing. It’s no wonder that, during its launch, Ikea Place ranked as the 2nd most downloaded app using the Apple ARKit platform (source: Sensor Tower).

For more on the future of online shopping, including insights into visual search and shoppable features on social, download our latest marketing trends guide!

The problem solver

 

AR is also allowing brands to direct customers to helpful, problem solving products. For example, L’Oréal – who acquired AR and VR beauty tech company Modiface back in 2016 – have been using AR technology to help people understand their skin and find products tailored to their needs. SkinConsultAI, which falls under L’Oréal’s skincare brand Vichy, allows users to upload a selfie on the app to discover their personal skin type and the routine they should follow. Using a mix of AI and AR technology, this app acts like a dermatologist. However, rather than leave the house and pay to visit an expert, users receive the expertise for free via an app.

The fire starter

 

In March 2019, things were heating up as Burger King Brazil introduced its Burn That Ad campaign. Burger King fans were given the chance to get a free Whopper in exchange for virtually setting fire to rival fast-food chain ads using the Burger King app. As a result, all of Burger King’s rival ads became an interactive platform for Burger King. This raised brand awareness, driving more customers through their doors.

Why did this AR campaign work so well? It was funny, full of freebies and (thanks to bold pyrotechnics) got people talking. The Burn That Ad campaign proves that AR is a hot marketing tool, and one to implement in 2020.

The boundary pusher

 

AR can breathe new life into traditional mediums, even print! Take The New Yorker’s AR magazine cover designed by Christoph Niemann for their Innovators issue. When viewed through an app, this AR cover took readers through the yellow and black cartoon streets of New York. This AR piece added a whole new element to the magazine, with hidden surprises that were revealed as reader’s turned their devices

How can marketers create AR campaigns?

As many of our examples prove, AR campaigns often involve a mobile app that users have to physically download. So, unless they really want to try out that new IKEA sofa before they buy, potential customers often refrain from downloading to save time and mobile storage.

How can brands overcome this? Augmented Reality Digital Placements. Launched by Blippar in 2017, ARDPs allow advertisers to create AR content without the need for extra apps. Think AR banner ads with 360° technology.

Tools like ARKit also help brands to create AR experiences for their customers. With features like AR Quick Look and Reality Composer, objects or scenes can be made and then virtually placed in the real world. Other notable AR tools include:

  • ARCore
  • EasyAR
  • MaxSt
  • Vuforia
  • WikiTude

It’s important to remember that all of these platforms are compatible with different technologies. ARKit, for example, is only compatible with iOS11(+) whilst WikiTude is linked to Android, iOS and Windows for tablets (source: Jelvix).

What’s in store for AR technology?

AR technology has been around for many years, but cutting edge AR has yet to truly enter the public sphere. However, many believe that this will change throughout the 2020s, with innovative and more easily-accessible technologies being released. In 2019, Qualcomm released Qualcomm Snapdragon XR Smart Viewer to help companies make lightweight AR glasses, suitable for everyday consumers to use. Equally, Qualcomm, alongside brands like Apple are now looking into ways of using 5G and next-generation Wi-Fi (Wi-Fi 6) to support wireless AR tech. So, in the next few years, high-tech AR experiences are set to become more widespread and more easy to use… Keep your eyes peeled!

We hope you found our introduction to AR useful. Why not download our latest guide, ‘Trends 2020: Marketing Trends with a Global Reach’ to learn more about the trends shaking up the world of marketing? 

 

Stay tuned