From Clicks to Blipps – How digital marketing is evolving?
Augmented Reality may not be a new concept but we are yet to see it becoming a part of our daily lives. Though talking about enhanced reality may seem like talking about Big Data 3 years back and SaaS 10 years back, but the human ambition to assimilate everything digital seamlessly into our reality may be fulfilled very soon. It is estimated that by 2020 for every human being there will be 6.6 objects connected to the internet.
Imagine a day in your life when you wake up in the morning, your smartphone checks your schedule and synchronizes with your smartwatch, running a fitness app which tells you the amount of calories to be burnt and miles to be run, and a smart refrigerator which tells you the right recipe and diet for the day which will help you pass a hectic day on job. You come back from the office after going through a verbal assault with your boss, the smart meter on your watch senses a high blood pressure, connects to your smart air conditioner which adjusts the room temperature, and your smart music system which starts playing a music appropriate for your mood (based on similar experiences before), your smart TV tunes itself to your favorite show and you feel everything around you is constantly working to improve your perception of reality. Maybe we are not so close yet but you can already see how businesses are harnessing the potential of augmented reality (referred as AR henceforth) for advertising and brand building in a time when billboards, print ads, TV ads, banner and search engine advertising hit the blind spot.
Check out this augmented reality marketing campaign by LG
AR has great applications when it comes to e-commerce and real estate. Trying out eye-wears and clothes through your webcams, or walking in your dream apartment through a simple print ad in a magazine are all a reality today. Though their use will be limited till the time smartphones and tablets penetrate deeply into the developing economies (to an extent which makes AR marketing a viable option) and using ‘smart’ products for carrying out every small action becomes second nature to us – while shopping, reading, talking or maybe all the time with a pair of glasses or eye implants. Check out this real estate AR advertising. Things can’t get better?! Doubtful.
There are no forms of AR
Traditionally we have seen a few basic forms such as a Web-based AR which requires you to have a web-cam and a paper with a marker (a black and white QR code which helps the webcam calculates the distance between the subject and the camera, and the size of the subject). A lot of fashion boutiques have been using this form to have people try out their collections without having to visit the store.
Kiosk based AR is another form where the user is not constrained by the hardware and other resources at hand. Packed with powerful processors one can set up a really advanced kiosk with high end image recognition, 3D or facial tracking and gesture tracking. Lego had set up a similar kiosk where shoppers could see how an assembled toy kit looks like by holding the box in front of the AR system.
Mobile AR is the most common form of AR that we see today and there are hundreds of apps trying to bring varied experiences to the user. Some recognize a QR code, a logo or a button to identify the task (opening a youtube video, website, email or call) and the target (company, individuals, etc), while the others scan the bar codes of products and pull information and reviews from the most popular websites. Wikitude and ibutterfly are some examples of Mobile AR which help you fetch information about your surroundings as you stroll across the street and present offers and coupons from nearby businesses
All said, there are no forms of AR. In fact, some of the AR experiences are not even digital but still they enhance user experience and establish a connect. Such forms are common in print ads and the most common being the one where in your room is filled with an exotic fragrance as you turn to the page containing an advertisement of a perfume, deodorant or a room freshener. You turn to the next page and see a full page ad by Volkswagen and feel the ‘vroom box’ effect (created by light sensitive vibrating chips) as the advertisement unleashes. The accompanying visual was that of the words ‘Feel the shiver of excitement?’
Enterprises undertake AR projects in two ways, either by developing their own apps or subscribing to an existing popular Augmented Digital Marketing (ADM) company. The latter makes sense as it takes more effort for the user to download a custom app for viewing an ad. Therefore, these ADMs are adding to their product portfolio as many variations and customization as possible to garner interests from the biggies. Universal, Tesco and KFC have used Aurasma for marketing purposes whereas Unilever, Samsung, Nestlé, Nike and Cadbury went with Blippar.
Lets get to know some popular players in the ADM landscape
What Xerox is to photocopy, Blippar is to AR. ‘Blip’ became synonymous to scanning. ‘Blip This’ and there pops up a product video, an animation or a website. This London based company aims at making anything and everything ‘blippable’. In a relatively short time the ‘blip’ button was being placed besides the QR code. A lifestyle magazine created an Olympics leaderboard with blippar on one of its pages that would show up-to-date live medal statistics
Another London based company founded in 2011, is a part of HP Autonomy. What Blippar refers to as blipps, Aurasma refers it as auras. Never mind the war of words, in March 2013 the company crossed 16000 customer milestone. 20% of its apps are used in educational context.
This Netherlands based company is focused more on the print media. It provides an application to create a customized AR campaign along with comprehensive statistics to measure campaign performance much like the good old internet advertising.
A French based startup which has created a niche in 3D models. Create a catalogue and show your products in 3D, if you want to have a business card show yourself in 3D. They have a small customer base with most of them comprising of furniture developers, architects, 3D developers and online poster and art shops.
As per ABI Research, market for augmented reality in the US will reach $350 million in 2014 from just $6 million in 2008. Some of the biggest brands such as Stella Artois, Airwalk, Maybelline, National Geographic, Top Gear, Volvo, Tic Tac, BMW, Ford, Heinz and Nestle have set aside budgets for their AR campaign
Internet advertising has to GO
Advertising today is pure noise and has little relevance for viewers today. Publishers and advertisers will have to think of engagement and not distraction as a tool to connect with the viewers as human brain registers unique and engaging information quickly and for a longer time. The next era of advertising will attract people towards it willfully instead of trying to catch their attention by hook or crook. This will happen because advertising will now be an aid in purchase of the product or service, a usage learning tool (by means of games or interactive animations), another source of entertainment and because it is so integrated into your reality.
AR also opens door for more creativity which was earlier bound by the limitations of traditional modes. This means there will be umpteen number of ways to convey a message and pass critical information more effectively. The child abuse ad published by a Spanish organization called Fundación ANAR had a unique feature (achieved through Lenticular photography that allows companies to create an image in a way that lets viewers see one of several different photos) that anyone taller than 4 feet 5 inches (the average height of a 10-year-old according to the group), would see a picture of a boy with an unmarked face and the following message: “Sometimes, child abuse is only visible to the child suffering it”. Anyone under that height would see an image of the boy with a bruised face, the organization’s hotline number in white text, and the message, “If somebody hurts you, phone us and we’ll help you”.
As per Blippar’s internal company data an average user engages with an AR advert for around 4 minutes 36 seconds, longer than television or print counterparts. Banner and search engine ads on internet are a distraction for the users who may up be on a completely unrelated task. Even if the ads are shown based on the user’s browsing history and preferences, it is still a source of annoyance because one is not on a lookout for commercials while surfing. Whereas AR uses internet only as a tool to communicate information and the rest is the act of using a smartphone or a tablet to know more about the product backed by willingness and curiosity of the viewer. As click-through rates of even the most widespread ad networks such as those of google and facebook decline, the companies taking advantage of their networks also face the risk of extinction. The biggies are riding on sheer volumes of text and display ads, but not for long. Nevertheless they have the resources and enormous data to build anything, even if AR marketing takes over. Google with its glasses is already in the game.
Lookout for consolidation
User base has to be the most crucial selling points for ADMs as it determines the probability of the user having to download the application and view the ad, which in turn decides whether the ad will be seen or not. Larger the user base, more attractive the vendor, and higher will be the returns on ad campaigns. People would not care to download 10 different apps for even 50 different adverts. This makes consolidation a very obvious route for all the players.
AR is a broad concept as so many of our daily activities can be digitized. Hence, another selling point for AR companies would be the way adverts are delivered. They can be delivered while users are navigating the streets, shopping and browsing the shelves, reading magazines and newspapers. One can specialize in a particular sector or a form of advert (Augment deals in 3D models).
Future of AR marketing
This industry is still in a nascent stage and will take some time before AR marketing becomes a common sight. As of now it should be a passing fad as the buzz around AR is due to the eye popping user experience but the ecosystem around it is not yet developed from a behavioral aspect (as we are not yet used to seeing the world through smart devices) and hardware aspect which renders the AR experience inconvenient and restricts its widespread usage. But as this ecosystem changes the industry would rise with full throttle. VOIP went through the same phase and so did SaaS. Talking about SaaS in particular, the concept of running applications online has been there since late 90s in the form of ASPs and OnDemand services but low bandwidth, memory and processing power was a major constraint. A decade later, SaaS is a reality and so will be AR
Also check out our studio link for some more AR stuff - http://fundamentalyst.com/galleries/augmented-reality/