Augmented Reality (AR) is a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data.
Brands and marketers who want to leverage Augmented Reality must look at it through the consumer lens, only then they will eventually realize that it is also something intangible utilitarian and evocative.
Before integrating Augmented Reality in your marketing campaigns it’s very important to check if Augmented Reality is right for you.
What to Consider?
The first step is to determine whether Augmented Reality is feasible for your brand, and whether it compliments your current brand marketing goals. There are three primary concerns in the first phase.
Is it the right tactic, and the right timing?
You can have access to two kinds of Augmented Reality marketing: the type that aims to be long-term and platform-supported, and the kind that intends to be a one-off, an earned-media generator, a campaign.
A cosmetic brand, for example, might benefit more from an AR campaign in the fourth quarter that drives in-store holiday sales, while a carmaker can achieve a better ROI if they build an AR platform that displays the features of their new models year-round and year-to-year. Any brand or marketer first needs to decide what kind of AR tactic suits their goal. Only then can they move on to the next consideration.
Cost vs engagement?
Comparatively speaking, the cost of deploying an Augmented Reality campaign or platform can be substantially cheaper than other forms of marketing. More importantly, it can also result in priceless earned media.
Take the Hugo Boss store at Westfield Stratford City, the largest shopping center in Britain, which opened this month near the 2012 London Olympics site, and featured an 8-meter media wall that allowed customers to “dress” onscreen models who responded to consumers’ movements by looking at them. They received top coverage in countless major publications including The New York Times. The AR elements cost them substantially less than buying advertising would have, and they enjoyed the cache of maintaining their reign as the luxury fashion digital leader.
However, the Hugo Boss Augmented Reality example is a one-off, and long-term AR platforms can be a great deal more expensive. That’s why the cost-benefit analysis for marketers boils down to this: Is the goal to create awareness and to generate innovative cache, or is the goal continued engagement and sales conversion? In either case, AR is a viable tactic, butt the AR experience should be adapted to fit marketer goals.
How to make it work?
Once you have decided that Augmented Reality is good for you there are still few rules you need to comply with.
For Augmented Reality to work, it must be fast and easy. While mobile have now all the resources to provide seamless experience, one solution is to skip the app. Countless successful AR campaigns have lived inside live events that don’t require a device at all. A recent campaign set in London stunned onlookers by allowing them to interact with dinosaurs, astronauts, tigers and other wild life creatures. Simple and immediate.
For Augmented Reality to work, the content has to be much more compelling than that of other channels and more useful.
Recent Augmented Reality campaign by Budweiser is successful because it requires only the download of the branded app, and offers real-world payoff . Fans who hold their devices up to the Budweiser logo will see a series of different experiences, such as the chance to take their picture with NASCAR driver Kevin Harvick, and behind-the-scenes video content. The content is updated periodically, and includes special offers and exclusive deals. According to Russell Ward, Digital Publicist of Budweiser Racing, the campaign’s goals are to connect with consumers in a unique way, using the most cutting edge technology available. How will the brand measure ROI? ”This campaign will be measured in smiles,” Ward says. ”Yes, we will be keeping an eye on downloads and discussions etc. But positive engagement with our customers is the end goal. It is a chance to give back.”
Emotion or Entertainment
Categories like automotive, luxury, and travel often see great success with emotion or entertainment based Augmented Reality, since their products tend not to be about function or utility, but rather about how they make a consumer feel.
The goal of AR in this case is to create an emotional connection between what the buyer is searching for and what the product can offer. In short, it gives the product a personal feel when consumers can picture it in their own world.
Take for example the Volvo Augmented Reality campaign that promoted the launch of the new S60 model, and gamified AR for entertainment value. The user activated the AR function by scanning a YouTube video that allowed him or her to drive a virtual Volvo S60 around a track by tilting their smartphone left and right. Volvo said the results were “outstanding”, with a 9.6% interaction rate, 192,319 clicks on the masthead ad and a traffic increase of 293% to volvocars.com.
VW recently applied a similar approach to launch the new 2012 Beetle in Canada – the idea was to make the advertising “as impressive as the car”. By scanning posters on bus shelters and billboards users could access fun digital content of cars bursting out from the wall and doing tricks off ramps.
In the luxury space Boucheron recently offered a very nice integration of Augmented Reality . Website users have the possibility to try on the luxury brand’s latest watches and rings in the comfort of their home with what the company calls “Technology for your feelings”. All it it requires for this virtual mirror to work is to print and cut-out a black & white paper model, place it on your wrist and finger to see your image wearing the selected jewelry and share it with your friends. Very Snow White magic mirror!
The Bottom line
Augmented Reality could possibly be the answer you’ve been looking for in terms of your next marketing campaign. It’s interactive, engaging and fun! If you enjoyed these unconventional marketing examples, you are ready for it, just make sure to pick the right approach so your marketing effort will get all the success it deserves.