Jul 7, 2017
How Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality Will Change the Future of Marketing
Brands are finding it difficult to stand out and reach their targeted audience. Social media, print ads, and online marketing need to evolve to stay relevant, which is why marketers are recognizing augmented and virtual reality to reach audiences. But, augmented reality and virtual reality are limited with expected growth in the next decade.
How Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality Are Being Used Today
Augmented reality is a blend of digital and real-world interfaces. A digital overlay of information on real world objects or people. Fashion apparel and beauty products have been using augmented reality to help shoppers for a few years now, but, with the explosion in popularity of Pokemon Go, digital marketers are taking notice of the applications AR and VR present.
Virtual reality has been around almost as long as computing itself, at least as a concept. It’s the complete immersion into a digital world. Because the complete immersion of virtual reality allows someone to be completely swept into a fully rendered world, its applications with marketers and brands can be limited. That limitation along with the cost and complexity of creating a virtual experience means it lags behind augmented reality in terms of advertising potential and user engagement.
Both virtual and augmented reality were first used for gaming, but now, companies are seeing an untapped potential to reach audiences who use these platforms. Marketers have to go where their audiences are and augmented reality gives them opportunities to interact with their audiences in brand new ways.
What Can Marketers Do With Augmented Reality
How augmented reality can market to consumers is virtually limitless. By taking the interactivity of online marketing and applying it to the real world, AR can blur the lines of what an advertisement is. Multinational brands can use AR to display their products on any surface or person. Clothing retailers using augmented reality as a virtual fitting room can help consumers see how something looks on them before adding it to their shopping cart. Furniture stores can place virtual furniture inside of homes, or shrink the physical space of a showroom and let customers decide what to place there using AR apps installed on tablets.
Home improvement store Lowe’s is experimenting with augmented and virtual reality in unexpected but clever ways. From using in-store navigation to being able to remodel a room with something called a holoroom. Home projects and remodeling is a perfect fit for AR and VR. Lowe’s seems to be at the head of an immersion revolution.
Fashion retailer Rebecca Minkoff has “magic mirrors” in the fitting rooms of some of their flagship stores. Integrating augmented reality to personalize a shopping experience is much more than having a wow factor attached to it. When shoppers use these technologies they are staying inside the store longer increasing their likelihood of buying something. Rebecca Minkoff’s connected stores had a 50% increase in sales year over year from 2014 to 2015. Using augmented reality is also affecting the way marketers use other marketing channels as well.
Print advertising is a dying breed with a diminishing ROI because of costs to produce and distribute, but its static nature could be revived with the magic of augmented reality. By having a brochure or flyer come to life, marketers could still use print adverts to showcase products or services with video demos, or showing 3D models. Melding together traditional forms of advertising with augmented reality will bring the synergy of a brand’s voice turning one channel into many. While the growth of augmented reality doesn’t mean it will have to compete with ad space, instead, it will complement it. It may not be as cost effective (yet) and is much more complex than SEO or social media marketing, but brands are looking to jump aboard the AR train.
Social Media and Augmented Reality
The way AR is being designed for mainstream appeal isn’t an obtrusive, ugly looking headset with a limited field of view like Microsoft’s Hololens. Augmented reality only needs a device with a camera and it’s AR ready. Social media companies like Facebook and Snapchat are taking steps to incorporate augmented reality into their platform.
Facebook is planning to open the camera on its Facebook app to AR developers allowing them to use location, real-time image processing, and object recognition. This would give marketers the ability to send relevant ads to users, and is built using Facebook’s user demographics data. If developers do get the hang of incorporating augmented reality into Facebook’s app it could begin a new way for marketers to rethink future advertising campaigns.
Snapchat is headed toward being more than a photo sharing app; It changed its name to Snap Inc and now wants to be known as a camera company. That rebranding might have something to do with how brand filters are being used by marketers to advertise to Snapchat’s growing user base. Early last year Snapchat started offering brand filters to companies that want to advertise on its platform. The nature of Snapchat is disappearing photos, so for brands who want to keep or repurpose their marketing campaigns, they simply can’t do it in the 24-hour window that Snapchat gives them ad space.
These branded filters have no call-to-action, meaning that brands and companies have no way to cultivate and nurture those that use these filters. That’s why companies who want to incorporate augmented reality into their marketing efforts and want to continue nurturing leads after the AR campaign is over should look elsewhere. Most of the companies that use Snapchat’s branded filters are large Fortune 500 companies like Budweiser and Time-Warner.
Different Ways Marketers Can Utilize Virtual Reality
Augmented reality is much more widespread, easier to develop, implement, and with unlimited applications. It seems that VR is being left in the dust in terms of marketing, but in reality, it’s moving at a turtle’s pace – slow but steady.
Virtual reality is a good way for companies to use immersive storytelling in a way that augmented reality can’t do. A company can use VR to bring attention to their mission statement by taking them through the journey of their founding. This would foster greater engagement and personal connection with the brand. Marketing using virtual reality could potentially flourish in the travel industry. Putting on a headset and teleporting to an exotic destination learning about the culture and places of interest would help sell travel packages for agencies and hotels. The automotive industry would benefit from incorporating VR into its marketing as well. Getting someone behind the wheel of a car virtually test driving it.
Virtual reality still lags behind augmented reality as a marketing channel because it needs specialized equipment and is mostly adopted by gamers. In order for virtual reality to be effective as a marketing channel, it needs to hone into the sensory aspect of a brand’s product or service and provide a totally immersive experience that adds to its overall messaging.
Bringing It All Together
Marketers are always quick to adopt new technology to advertise to consumers. Virtual and augmented reality are new forms of immersion that can take advantage of a smarter much more engaged audience. Any industry could benefit from incorporating augmented reality while virtual reality benefits from complete sensory experiences. Both types of immersion marketing could usher in a new way of thinking about advertising in general. Meaning other forms of marketing would have to adapt to audiences expecting interactive advertisements to keep their attention and ultimately make the sale.