Audi A1 Augmented Reality

The automotive industry were one of the first industries to embrace AR within marketing communications so it’s probably not surprising to see Audi now taking full advantage of this technology to promote the A1.

What’s interesting for me, however, is that they’ve integrated AR within their main website so that it will remain a permanent feature for that model. In this example, you can add a panoramic sunroof, open doors and explore the interior or even take it for a virtual spin. Admittedly AR can be a bit gimmicky for some tastes but I like the fact that people have the option to interact with this if they choose to do so, in much the same way that some prospects prefer video content whilst others devour technical specs.   Also, now that it’s a permanent fixture on the site they should be able to include the AR code on other marketing collateral to help drive offline prospects online.

If Audi can demonstrate that AR is well received with some online personas and improves their conversion rates, I wouldn’t be surprised if they roll this out for all future product launches.

If you want to read my other posts on Augmented Reality click here.

An easy mobile payment solution

Wouldn’t it be great if a consumer could visit your website (or potentially your mobile website), decide to purchase a particular product or service and then pay for it there and then using their mobile phone?

Well thanks to a new simple solution by ImpulsePay, now you can.  ImpulsePay’s solution works on any UK handset and effectively collects payment via the consumer’s available PAYG credit or by billing against the mobile phone bill.  Simple, quick and effective.

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Mobile gift vouchers via SMS

Mobile coupons or vouchers always sound great in principle but the perceived cost of investing in the back-end EPoS infrastructure has often deterred most retailers.  But that’s all about to change.

Instead of investing in new hardware and software to authenticate mobile coupons it’s now possible to integrate redemptions within a retailer’s existing Chip and Pin system. And at a fraction of the cost I believe.  If that’s the case, we can expect to see a lot more retailers experiment with this emerging channel.

I was particularly impressed by this recent initiative for the fashion retailer Oasis.  Eagle Eye Solutions (a specialists in mobile voucher redemptions) have created what is believed to be the world’s first peer-to-peer SMS gift voucher.

How it works?

Oasis customers can now buy vouchers online at and then have them sent direct to a friend’s  mobile phone who can then redeem them in-store.  It’s a bit like ordering Amazon vouchers online but instead of emailing them to a friend you can have them sent direct to their mobile phone.

As Steve Rothwell, CEO Eagle Eye Solutions puts it: “Nearly everyone in the UK can receive a text and hence a coupon or voucher on their phone, but what makes this such a breakthrough is that we’ve solved the key barrier to entry i.e. the real-time authentication of the voucher at the Point of Sale.”

What are the benefits?

From a brand perspective:

  • Opens up a new channel for gifting or sales activation/promotions
  • Because Eagle Eye’s mobile vouchers uses the retailer’s existing EPoS and Chip & PIN systems, there’s no new investment or changes to their existing infrastructure required
  • Mobile vouchers are more environmentally friendly than paper/plastic with less wastage and a far smaller carbon footprint from creation to delivery
  • The system radically reduces the potential for fraud, as it is sent directly to the recipient’s phone and must be shown in-store
  • The data captured offers retailers unprecedented levels of insight into consumer behaviour

From a consumer perspective:

  • Simple, fast, no nonsense way to organise gift vouchers
  • Perfect for distress purchases (like when you’ve forgotten someone’s birthday!)
  • Consumers already understand existing electronic transaction and Chip & PIN systems, so education and adoption should be fairly rapid
  • Trials have shown that on average customers are ten times more likely to redeem mobile vouchers than their paper, plastic or emailed equivalent


Considering Gartner is predicting mobile to surpass PCs as the most common device to access the internet in the next 3 years, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that brands have to seriously consider where mobile fits into their overall marketing strategy.  You’ve only got to look at the significant number of mobile donations in the wake of the Haiti crisis, the appetite for mobile apps or the arrival of mobile voucher startups like VoucherCloud or twtQpon to see that mobile has finally come of age.

Gartner’s mobile predictions

I thought this was worth sharing – Gartner published last month their IT predictions for the next few years. Of particular note are their mobile phone /user devices predictions at the end of the report (section 10).

In a nutshell, they anticipate that in the next 3 years mobile will surpass the PC as the most common web access device worldwide.  They’re not saying that mobiles will replace PCs as the primary way to browse the web, but rather the sheer penetration of smartphones and browser-enabled enhanced mobile devices by 2013 will ultimately mean that more people will be accessing the web on their mobiles than on PC.

When I shared this report with Douglas McDonald, the Head of Mobile at TMW he suggested we should use some caution using global numbers as much of that growth is in emerging economies where mobile is the only option for connectivity. Fixed line will be far more important in the short term in US, Western Europe.  That said, it’s very clear that brands need to seriously consider developing a mobile website strategy if they haven’t done so already.

The full report can be accessed here or you can review the relevant extract below:


  • According to Gartner’s PC installed base forecast, the total number of PCs in use will reach 1.78 billion units in 2013. This figure comprises desktops, notebooks and mini-notebooks (netbooks). All of these devices are capable of being used for Internet access, even if some are not.
  • Gartner’s smartphone installed base estimates indicate the number of smartphones in use will reach 1.32 billion units in 2013. All smartphones (e.g., the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3G S, HTC G1 and Touch HD, Nokia N97, Palm Pre, Research In Motion BlackBerry Storm, Samsung Omnia and Omnia HD, and Sony Ericsson Satio and Experia X1) are equipped with Web-browsing capabilities.
  • Shipments of enhanced phones (which have media or application capabilities but no local operating system, such as the LG Arena and Samsung Jet) peaked in 2008 and will decline from 2009 onward. The installed base of enhanced phones also peaked in 2009. A growing percentage of enhanced phones are equipped with advanced Web-browsing capabilities. By 2013, over 40% of the enhanced phone installed base (1.26 billion units) will be equipped with advanced browsers — 505 million units.
  • By 2013, the combined installed base of smartphones and browser-equipped enhanced phones will exceed 1.82 billion units. From 2013 onward, this combined installed base will be greater than the installed base for PCs.
  • Although few users exploit smartphones or enhanced phones for extended Web access, most use them occasionally to access information, Web-based applications and social networks on the move. For example, in September 2009, 65 million of the 350 million registered Facebook users used the mobile device application.

Market Implications:

  • Although the bulk of page views will continue to occur through larger-format devices (PCs), from 2013, mobile phones will drive the higher number of website accesses due to the sheer weight of device numbers.
  • Most users in 2013 will use a PC as their primary Web access device and their phone as a secondary access device. However, as takeup of smartphones spreads globally, there will come a point in 2015 when the mobile phone will overtake the PC as the most common primary device for Web access worldwide.
  • In 2009, the majority of organizations do not have mobile-friendly websites. Among others without a significant mobile presence are Ikea International, Samsung Electronics, Apple, Samsung, H-P and Pitney Bowes. But many leading organizations are now re-evaluating their website design to improve accessibility from mobile devices.
  • Mobile Web users are typically prepared to make fewer “clicks” on a website than users accessing sites from a PC. Although a growing number of websites and Web-based applications offer support for small-form-factor mobile devices, many still do not. Websites not optimized for the smaller-screen formats will become a market barrier for their owners — much content and many sites will need to be reformatted/rebuilt.
  • Organizations in geographic regions where the PC is not as prevalent will face the most need to invest in mobile browser access to their websites. Organizations with consumer-facing websites and portals will be more at risk of reduced customer interaction and fewer transactions than business to business. Many information portals used by educational institutions and the government sector will also require reformatting and restructuring. Online retailers, banks and financial service providers will be the most exposed to this risk.


  • Re-evaluate your websites, customer portals and Web-based applications to ensure they provide adequate support for access from smartphone and other mobile devices.In most cases, websites and Web-based applications should be designed to be device-independent. Consider using mobile consumer application platforms for this.Where redesign for mobile phone access is required, consider both format (to fit the restricted user interface capabilities) and information structure. Unless absolutely required, commonly accessed information and resources should not be positioned more than “three clicks away” for the user.

RAF introduces Augmented Reality in Welcome Pack

RAF_Welcome_packAugmented Reality is all the rage these days but it’s easy to get a bit carried away with technology at the expense of building on a particular consumer insight. It’s far better for a creative idea to be built on a strong insight rather than forcing an idea around the latest gizmo.

That said, I like this AR example Tullo Marshall Warren have produced for young people interested in the Royal Air Force as it plays on their inquisitive nature, their passion for the “Red Arrows” and their predisposition to adopt new technology.

The welcome pack forms part of the CRM programme for the The Altitude online club, dedicated to 13 to 18 year-olds in full time education and provides information about life in the RAF.

The pack was made up of outer packaging, a letter with a personalised membership card and a small Augmented Reality card. When recipients go to the URL on the card and hold the card up to a webcam, they can see and interact with a projected 3D model of a Red Arrows aircraft, while watching an exclusive interview with one of the world-famous Red Arrows Pilots.

In addition, the magic symbol in the centre of the card acts as code: anyone who deciphers what it means is entered into a free prize draw to win an Altitude-branded iPod nano and sock.

It’s a great example of how to use direct mail to drive traffic online in order to create a rich and engaging online experience. I’ve no doubt this particular target audience will be fascinated with this kind of  technology and keen to show this to their friends.

If you’re interested to know more about Augmented Reality and how marketers have taken advantage of this technology to good effect, you might want to read my previous post called 6 top marketing applications for Augmented Reality.

Watch this home page morph into a banner ad


Interactive ad technology company Eyewonder have launched PageMorph™, a new advertising unit, which essentially morphs a publisher’s home page into a full page banner ad or landing page.

As a consumer clicks onto a homepage, a screenshot of the page begins to shrink and crumple away to reveal the banner ad behind. You can watch a demo of the ad unit here.



Eyewonder claim publishers are looking for premium placements to sell to advertisers whilst keeping ad clutter on their home page to a minimum.  This format certainly fulfils that requirement.  From an advertiser’s perspective, it’s certainly eye-catching and engaging and I’m sure brands will enjoy the larger real estate to present brand messages.   The new ad units also return a higher than average total interaction time apparently which is something not to be scoffed at.

However,  I do think marketers need to strike a careful balance between capturing consumer attention and disrupting the online experience to such an extent that the consumer is virtually coerced into interacting with the ad campaign.  I also question what relevance a shrinking home page has unless you link it to the concept in the way BMW have done here, otherwise it’s just an eye-catching gimmmick.   I’m not saying this technology doesn’t have a role – in fact in some instances this could be extremely compelling –  I just think there are wider factors to consider beyond who can shout the loudest.

Amnesty’s latest ad campaign is a real ‘head-turner’

Amnesty International have developed this very impactful, digital billboard campaign to raise awareness of  domestic violence.  It’s built on the simple insight that most domestic violence happens behind closed doors and is hidden from view.

However, it’s the clever use of eye-tracking technology which really brings this insight to life.  Whenever a person in front of the poster looks in its general direction they see a normal looking couple pretending to look happy.

amnesty2It’s only when the person looks away that the poster changes to a much more alarming scene.

Amnesty eye-tracking posterCredit: German Advertising Agency, Jung von Matt

What I find interesting with this campaign is not just the impressive eye tracking technology but rather the simplicity and single-mindedness of the whole idea.  The insight is hardly a revelation but it’s rooted in a consumer truth and is inspiring enough to act as a creative springboard from which to produce great work.  Sometimes it’s not the originality of the insight feeding into the proposition which makes for a great campaign – although that can help – but rather the creative scope and freedom it provides to generate a big idea.

Thanks to my fellow planner Olly Spalding for telling me about this compelling campaign.