Augmented reality (AR) is a fascinating field of computer research which combines the real-world with virtual reality and computer-generated data. This leading edge technology is being increasingly adopted within the interactive marketing arena, so I thought it might help to provide a summary of the different applications I’ve come across to date.
1. Lead generation
Now that we live firmly in the digital age, you may be forgiven for thinking the traditional print ad just doesn’t cut the mustard anymore! Take the Mini Cabrio Augmented Reality campaign, for example. As part of the model launch they created a full page print ad which contained simple instructions on how to transform the page into a 3D virtual model of the car.
They placed the ad in three German automotive magazines including Auto, Motor und Sport, Werben & Verkaufen and Autobild. You can check out the results in the video below or if you want a go yourself you can print out a PDF of the ad. The campaign was created Buzzin Monkey and die agentour GmbH.
2. Brochure Fulfilment
The following example demonstrates how versatile AR can be as a way of making brochure fulfilment more engaging and interactive. Here, consumers can fully interact with the brochure to change the colour of the car and even review the interior in 3D. Might make you think twice before churning out yet another 6pp DL fulfilment leaflet!
3. Buzz generation/WOM
Some times it’s not the actual product itself which is dramatised but rather a conceptual idea designed to create buzz or word of mouth for a particular campaign. For example, to help promote the latest Star Trek movie, they created this holographic tour around the USS Enterprise, including basic interaction such as firing laser guns or experiencing warp speed. I’m sure any geeky Star Trek fans are simply going to love this.
Samsung have also just launched a spoof online campaign for the Samsung Mini Notebook N310 where they superimposed two ‘morphic’ characters onto some camcorder footage previewing the notebooks at some tradeshow. This is perhaps the most passive application of AR as there’s no user interaction as such but it still demonstrates how the technology can be applied to dramatise a particular campaign idea.
4. Event marketing (Product Demonstration)
AR obviously comes into its own when you need to demonstrate a product, particularly if the product is too complex, large or expensive to present in the flesh. So the sort of industries this may appeal to include automotive, construction, interior design, fashion, luxury hotels and financial services to name but a few.
Infiniti, the premium car brand, for example, created an interactive kiosk last year where passers-by could literally control the angle and perspective of the 3D moving vehicle by adjusting the card in front of the screen. Ironically, this would have generated far more consumer engagement and buzz than simply showcasing the car.
5. Point of sale (Product Visualisation)
Some times it’s hard to envisage what a product may end up looking like when it hasn’t yet been assembled. This was the problem faced by LEGO whose products are obviously composed of tiny individual pieces.
To overcome this, LEGO, in partnership with AR specialists Metaio, installed interactive terminals in key shopping locations so that children could hold the LEGO boxes up to the screen and see a 3D animation of the product inside the box. What a great way to get kids excited about your product.
iLiving, a furniture manufacturer, has also cottoned on to the fact that they could apply AR technology to help customers visualise how iLiving furniture may look in their own living room.
This simple example from Rayban effectively demonstrates how product visualisation can help to facilitate the buying process for consumers who are shopping online.
6. Mobile applications or utilities
While the idea behind AR has been around for a while, it is the number of mobile phone apps utilising it that have really pushed the technology into the limelight. Wikitude AR Travel Guide is an application specifically for the Google Android that turns Wikipedia into a location-based service. This means you can point your camera at anything around you, and using GPS to get your whereabouts, the app is able to pick up info about places of interest in your area so you can get clued up. Genius.
WWF have also incorporated AR into mobile phones with this innovative awareness generation campaign.
The above examples hopefully show the versatility of this technology and how it is starting to be adopted across multiple platforms, whether that’s via print ads, brochures, websites, interactive kiosks or even mobile phones.
The challenge for marketers is not to let AR dictate the idea but rather start with clear marketing objectives, consumer needs and insights, a campaign proposition and a perhaps the seed of a creative idea and see whether AR can help to bring this all to life. At the end of the day there’s no point incorporating this technology unless it provides a clear, demonstrable benefit for the consumer and addresses your core marketing objectives. However, I hope that by identifying 6 clear applications for brands that this gets the creative juices going!
Finally, I’ll leave you with this interesting example which sadly doesn’t quite sit within any of the above categories but worth sharing anyway. It shows just how far one can take this technology with a little bit of creativity and inspiration.
Vodpod videos no longer available.