Augmented Reality (AR) has long sounded like a wild, futuristic concept, but the technology has been around for years. With 2020 seeing events being cancelled or taken online, ongoing travel restrictions and FOGO (Fear of Going Out), AR is the obvious choice to add a layer of interactivity and connect with audiences on a deeper level.
"AR experiences deliver almost double (1.9 times) the levels of engagement and are 3x more memorable compared to their non-AR equivalent"
What is Augmented Reality?
At its most basic level, AR layers digital information in some form or another over our physical world. Unlike VR, Gartner says, AR is not a simulation of reality – rather, it integrates and adds value to the user’s interaction with the real world. Wikipedia defines Augmented Reality as "an interactive experience of a real-world environment where the objects that reside in the real world are enhanced by computer-generated perceptual information, sometimes across multiple sensory modalities, including visual, auditory, haptic, somatosensory and olfactory." This definition provides insight and ignites the imagination for the potential of AR and what the future will hold as demonstrated by the AR Cut Paste prototype.
“Augmented reality refers to any technology that ‘augments’ the user’s visual (and in some case auditory) perception of their environment. Typically, digital information is superimposed over a natural existing environment. Information is tailored to the user’s physical position as well as the context of the task, thereby helping the user to solve the problem and complete the task.”
Pokemon Go democratised AR back in 2016 but other everyday examples to play with include:
Google Translate app's camera mode for translating the text in your photo in real time
Ink Hunter for tattoo lovers lets you put a point anywhere on your body using a ballpen and project a tattoo design that you want to have, making the whole process simple and makes it one of the best augmented reality apps.
Just a Line gives users the liberty to draw augmented reality doodles within three-dimensional surroundings of their mobile device screen.
IKEA Place lets you virtually place true-to-scale 3D models in your very own home combining the latest AR technology and IKEA’s smart home solutions to experience IKEA like never before.
How can brands use Augmented Reality?
There have been some incredible success stories of brands using AR to increase engagement that ultimately lead to new sales. After launching their try-before-you-buy AR make-up experience, L’Oreal increased their sales by 49%.
Below I've outlined four lenses to think about how AR can be used in brand marketing:
Use AR to help your audience get (digitally) hands on with your product and seamlessly transition from viewing a product on-screen to exploring a digital twin of the product which communicates all the information you would usually see in a live environment.
AR engagement is up nearly 20% since the beginning of 2020 with conversion rates increasing by 90% for consumers engaging with AR compared to those that don’t.
Source: Retail Customer Experience
I recently contributed to the above statistic when I purchased an art work using Saatchi Art WebAR ‘View In A Room’ feature which allows you to visualise art in your home before purchasing online, thanks to this simple tool Saatchi Art's mobile transactions grew 100% year-over-year in Q2 2020.
With AR experiences delivering almost double the levels of engagement and being 3x more memorable it provides an invaluable engagement tool through interactivity across events, retail and digital.
AR received 45% higher engagement than TV
Using AR, brands, retail and events can showcase their products and services as interactive 3D experiences that users can interact with in their own environment at real-world scale.
Toyota's Hybrid AR app demonstrates how customers can gain a better understanding of their new C-HR model which overlays images of the inner workings of the Hybrid drivetrain onto physical vehicles.
AR is a great way to tell a story and educate consumers, because it allows you to directly immerse them within your narrative and the technology places us at the centre of the experience. Placing your audience at the centre of the experience is a similar concept to first-person gameplay – it creates a uniquely engaging and immersive experience.
Jack Daniels AR experience educates customers about the production process of their whiskey, while showing them that they deeply care about the quality of their product.
AR gamification is all about using interactive elements (no matter how simple) to add some flair and/or convenience to your customer experience. This gaming-inspired approach also has the ability to transform training, demos and online learning content into augmented gamified learning.
LEGO's Hidden Side is a creative building toy, tech toy and AR game all rolled into one. Kids can build a multi-layered model, then use a free interactive Augmented Reality app to hunt and trap ghosts. With multiple different sets and frequent updates, it’s the bridge between physical and virtual play underpinned by brick building and storytelling.