Augmented reality is changing the face of digital marketing

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As we increasingly enter a digital age, heavily relying on technology to speak to our audience, the marketing industry is continuously adapting. In 2018, the trends are turned towards augmented reality (AR) and the ‘rise of the machines’. The AR industry has shown substantial growth over the years, particularly in comparison to virtual reality. The likes of Ikea Place, Snapchat and Pokémon Go have catapulted the tech innovation into the mainstream, demonstrating the potential to be had - especially for Ecommerce stores. Flow Digital, a Newcastle-based, leading digital marketing agency, are discussing what the future of digital marketing holds with AR in its path.

What is augmented reality?

Most of us will have come into (virtual) contact with augmented reality. The technology superimposes a computer-generated image onto a user’s real view of the world, presenting an augmented reality. There are significant benefits to all industries with the arrival of AR, and digital marketing agencies and the like must take note of the possibilities for clients. Likewise, Ecommerce stores can improve their profile vastly with the use of this unique format. If we’re talking in numbers, Pokémon Go became the most profitable app in 2016, with a staggering 750 million downloads in that year.

AR stats

The AR statistics more than speak for themselves, with the industry, quite literally, booming. There is significant investment within the AR market, and more companies are turning towards the tech trend. In 2020, the AR industry is expected to boast no less than one billion users. Further to that, augmented reality is estimated to be worth four times that of virtual reality. With stats such as these to hand, it’s easy to see where the future lies for marketing. While many brands are still finding their feet, you must begin to consider AR as part of your marketing strategy. There is huge potential for all industries, as demonstrated by the success of Ikea Place. This app allows users to virtually place their products in their home, subsequently encouraging them to purchase their products. With all of the necessary information to hand, Ikea IS building on their relationships with their consumers and offering interactivity. However, it’s important to note if AR will benefit your brand, as, of course, it doesn’t come without costs. For example, a large retail store can certainly use the opportunities to their advantage, whereas a local law firm may not reap the same rewards.

AR certainly doesn’t have to come in the form of a high-profile app, for those concerned with budgets. Estée Lauder produced a subtle nod to the trend, using Facebook Messenger and AR. To promote their products - and make life easier for the consumer - they enabled users to virtually try on their makeup through the messenger chatbot, thus seeing an increase in social media shares and sales.

AR advantages

With the arrival of augmented reality comes the need for marketers to get creative. AR provides ample opportunity to communicate with your audience, and you need to create concepts that no other brand has yet thought of. Doing so can significantly boost your online profile and, subsequently, revenue. One of the primary advantages OF using AR as part of your digital marketing strategy is the ability to bring your products to life. In the past, we’ve had to rely on static adverts to showcase your products, with recent changes in the rise of video content. However, AR offers you the chance to, literally, demonstrate the key features of your products. You could go so far as to turn your static advert into an interactive catalogue - the possibilities are almost endless.

Similarly, the use of augmented reality enhances engagement, effectively building a relationship between brand and consumer. Your company is providing all necessary information on the product - including how the item would even look in their home - thus encouraging consumers to purchase from your brand above all others. Likewise, this is a huge benefit for digital marketing - particularly those with Ecommerce clients.

Are there any disadvantages?

While there are more advantages than disadvantages, you must consider the lack of adverts if your company solely relies on this form of revenue. Certainly, fewer adverts could have an impact on the world of digital marketing. Advertisements are the foundation to almost all companies, with the ad spend in the UK reaching a staggering £22.1 billion in 2017. AR does not have a place for the likes of header bidding etc., but you can bring to life your ads through video. Take Pepsi, for example, transforming a UK bus stop to an augmented marvel. Through the bus stop ad board, they showcased augmented reality videos of a tiger on the loose and even a comet blasting through the pavement. Once the videos were finished, viewers could take a selfie with the board.

How can I use AR?

As mentioned above, video content is the star of the augmented reality show. In the past several years, we have already noted the change in video content. In fact, it’s one of the largest trends in the marketing industry, with more than 22 million daily video views spread across Facebook, YouTube and Snapchat. This figure is growing each day, but regular video content only, typically, offers several seconds to catch the eye of your consumers. However, AR offers upwards of 50 seconds to speak to your audience. Your social media platforms will also begin to improve through association.

Combing back to Ecommerce stores especially, augmented reality provides the chance to catch ‘impulse shoppers’. These shoppers are those who like to browse, without the intent to buy. If you can stop them in their tracks and demonstrate the use of products (and how it will look in their home), you can, perhaps, persuade them to buy.

AR even offers behind-the-scenes opportunities - always highly shareable on social media. We’re, naturally, a nosy nation and enjoy looking into places we are not typically allowed. You can use AR to show the development stage of products, or even the delivery, for the ultimate transparency. In return, you’ll see more engagement. For example, restaurants could go so far as to demonstrate the dining experience at their venue.

Overall, augmented reality provides vast benefits to your brand, and is a tech innovation that is here to stay.

Lauren Green, Content Marketer, Flow Digital
Image source: Shutterstock/Ahmet Misirligul