Alto Marketing

Gotta catch them all! How is augmented reality being used in marketing?

4th August 2016 - 0 comments

Written by Sam Cooper.

Pokémon Go has been the first step for a lot of people into the world of augmented reality and how it can be used in effective and innovative ways. For a long time, marketers have been exploring the potential applications of augmented reality as an effective marketing communications tool but it’s never really taken off in a big way. In this article I will look at a few recent examples of companies that have successfully adopted AR and consider whether the Pokémon Go phenomenon is just another false dawn for AR or if it’s finally a ‘must-have’ for marketers.

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Kids and adults alike have been enjoying Lego since its creation in 1934. I remember making my own ‘Big Ben’ Lego masterpiece as a child. But in the digital age, Lego has its work cut out maintaining market share among an increasingly tech-savvy target market. In order to stay relevant, Lego will have to embrace and incorporate new technology. One way they are doing just that is to use AR to overcome a perennial Lego dilemma; what will the final, assembled product look like? The packaging gives you a clue but from a 2D image you can never truly visualise the full magnificence of the completed 3D construction… until now. With augmented reality ‘stations’ introduced at Lego stores across the world, you can simply hold your Lego product packaging in front of a camera and in seconds the monitor displays a CGI rendering of the final product in full 360° glory (how cool is that?). Take a look at the video below for a full demonstration.

Moving on from me geeking out in the Lego store, another company using augmented reality to great effect is Ikea. The Swedish furniture giant features augmented reality in its virtual catalogues. You can browse through the catalogue, click on the product you are interested in and, by using the camera on your smart device, place a virtual image of that product in your room. So whether you want to visualise how a sofa might look in your living room or how a crib might look in your new nursery, this AR app makes it possible.

These examples both draw on one of the main benefits of augmented reality, namely the ability to digitise customer interactions with offline materials, with obvious potential applications for marketers. If nothing else, it’s another weapon to add to the arsenal in the ongoing battle to quantify leads and sales from offline interactions; These applications allow you to see exactly what products people are interacting with which should enable more carefully targeted communications and, in theory, increased sales. Looking beyond the cold, hard numbers, AR can also deliver a novel and engaging customer experience, with huge potential for extending organic reach.

But what happens when the novelty wears off? AR is often seen as a gimmick – more like a bit of fun than a practical long term solution to a genuine problem. As a result, marketers would expect to see an immediate peak in uptake and then an equally rapid decline which, depending on the initial cost, might leave them with some difficult questions to answer concerning ROI! As a result, for the time being at least, AR is likely to only be accessible for big brands with big budgets and loyal customers. But as AR comes into more frequent use in other arenas, such as gaming, this could drive down the cost, making it more accessible and affordable as a marketing tool.

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Written by Sam Cooper – Digital Marketing Communications 
Sam

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