Bringing Augmented Reality Marketing to Every Business

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As a marketer, have you ever thought that your kismet is lying on the superimposed lines of any Sunday afternoon NFL football game? Probably not (especially if you’re not a sports fan). Well, these first-down lines, not only, provide a more accurate spatial orientation of games for home viewers but they are also the foundation of Augmented Reality (AR). To elaborate, AR directly takes physical real world images, modifies them using computer generated software and creates a whole new world. AR adds elements to the participant’s ordinary life to enhance their experience through means of enjoyment, intrigue and, recently, convenience.

For years, marketing and advertising agencies have strained themselves trying to isolate the most effective, meaningful and lasting image to sell their product. Now, brands are able to visually and audibly foster experiences which consumers can be a part of. AR is still in infancy, and it seems that there are no limitations to the communication potential it embodies.

Whether it’s an experience like walking around and experiencing the battle of Gettysburg while your actually standing on the former battleground, or in a Happy 90th Birthday, Grandma! giftcard, AR has already showcased services, goods and entertainment, which allow us to see reality as bigger, cooler and more fake.

By employing GPS software in mobile devices, companies are able to target exact locations to specify their message to that geographic region.

eBay Classified and Valpak: These companies have  both partnered with AR platform Junaio to launch an app that displays all nearby classified ads or coupons. The app allows you to filter the listings with keywords to avoid clutter in busy areas. The ads/coupons appear on your screen as you change your phone’s direction, and, in the case of eBay, take it one step further to dial the number posted to set up an appointment. Something as daunting as apartment hunting can be made simple with this app — all you do is hold your phone to the building of your dreams and perhaps you’ll soon be on your way toward signing a lease.

Wikitude World Browser: This app scans your surroundings using the camera and GPS sensors in your mobile device to provide all points of interest nearby and tags them on your screen for easy navigation. The app goes one step further to provide you with the Wikipedia information you need to know about those locations.

Product advertisements are becoming invisible to consumers as they are blocked by clutter. By experimenting with AR, brands are able to bring their product to the consumer and allow them to sample the product in their own space.

Ray-Ban Virtual Mirror: Ray-Ban collaborated with FittingBox to develop the technology behind the virtual mirror. They use landmarks like nose, ears and eyes to place the products in real time. This takes online shopping to a new level allowing customers to virtually try the product on before deciding to purchase it. Another great opportunity to determine if the black Wayfarers are too Risky Business with your hair cut.

Hallmark Gift Cards: Nothing says ‘cheesy’ like a Hallmark gift card. But Hallmark is making the recipients of their gift cards say ‘cheese’ by bringing their cards to life through AR.  After the purchase of a gift card, the recipient can log on to the website display the card on webcam and become part of the animated party. This adds an interactive element to gift cards that has never been seen before. Hallmark identified that most people enjoy a party, especially those receiving condolences cards, so they are hosting one and invited everyone to it through AR.

Companies have been using forms of AR for years now to make games and simulations feel more realistic. Previously, they have brought the users into their games, but now they are incorporating games into real life.

Disney MotionBeam: The MotionBeam project is developing new character interaction through projection controlled by gesturing of hand held devices. The projections can be applied by linking them to physical attributes in the environment that become part of the game. Although this project is still in the works, Disney has identified that they would like to incorporate this projector into cell phones to turn the real world into a playground.

Virtual Retail
A good example of this is New York based Goldrun.  The company has worked with Airwalk, H&M and NBC to create virtual stores or experiences inside of stores that create experiences that truly engage consumers and ultimately lead to product purchase.

Consider their work with H&M, where you walk about to the typical storefront window and see the regular display with the naked eye, but a different display in augmented space through your smartphone.  Perhaps there is a product visible that you can claim through the app.  But maybe that product is a special SKU, only available to app users.  This could be a great way to differentiate your brand, create exclusivity and demonstrate innovation.

Marketers will be experimenting more and more with AR as consumers increasingly begin to adopt this new technology. As AR adds a digital overlay to real world experiences in places around the world, it can add background information about places like Times Square or Fisherman’s Wharf, or give customer reviews on products during shopping trips through Wal-Mart, or even act as a distraction from a boring keynote speaker. Whatever its uses will be, AR has the ability to change the world as we see it — and for marketers, that new vision is an opportunity.

Asif R. Khan is a veteran tech start-up, business development and marketing entrepreneur currently serving the community as founder and president of the Location Based Marketing Association (The LBMA). Weekly podcaster at This Week In Location Based Marketing every Monday. Can be found at @AsifRKhan @TheLBMA on Twitter.