New iPhones May Open the Door for Brands to Experiment With AR

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Apple took the wraps off its latest iPhones Tuesday, offering three variants for consumers to covet until they hit the street later this month. The debut stands to do more than give gadget lovers their latest fix. The new iPhones are an opportunity for brands to reach potential customers in new ways, especially when merged with location, says Wendell Lansford, co-founder of Wyng, a digital campaign platform for agencies and brands.

New camera features, with higher quality photos and better video framerates, as well as selfie options, found in the iPhone 8 and its siblings can be ways for brands to drive more engagement by encouraging users to generate content around their products. This can include image filters, stickers, and other branded graphics that can be added to photos shared on social media. “User-generated content now plays a vital role in how brands are connecting with consumers and in getting organic word of mouth shared about brands,” he says.

Furthermore, the reveal of a new set of iPhones matters in particular because of the substantial role mobile plays in campaigns. “We looked at all of the data from campaigns being run on our platform and 61 percent of all consumer participation comes from mobile devices,” Lansford says, with about 60 percent of that through iPhones.

There are other technical elements, he says, that brands might take advantage of with the iPhone 8, the iPhone 8 Plus, and the iPhone X. Augmented reality capabilities will be bundled into the new iOS, Lansford says, which can be a tool to better connect with consumers. “That’s going to be available to a broad range of iPhones, not just the new models,” he says. That technology will benefit from the higher quality images that can be captured with the latest iPhones.

The face scanning and recognition capabilities, for example, in the new iPhones can be used in relation to augmented reality, Lansford says. “We do a fair amount of Snapchat simple augmented reality experiences with frames and filters on top of photos and videos,” he says. Those types of brand activations outperform all other campaign formats in terms of virality. “People spend more time with them; they engage more deeply with those experiences,” Lansford says. “And they share it much more frequently.”

He admits that, to the masses, augmented reality has been something of a novelty thus far. That stands to change with innovations such as those due with the new iOS coupled with iPhones. “The reach of native augmented reality capabilities is going to dramatically increase,” he says. “There will be tens of millions of phones enabled with augmented realty capabilities.” This could take augmented reality (AR) mainstream and more viable as a marketing technique.

Developers, in turn, will likely work on new apps and services that take advantage of AR. “You’ll have more apps, there will be more interesting apps with more immersive experiences,” Lansford says. The greater the reach of AR as a medium the more money will be available, making it more attractive to the developer community. From a brand perspective, he says there will be opportunities around owned augmented reality experiences that go beyond the simple features currently available. AR campaigns can be combined with geolocation, for instance, to steer customers to offers by brands.

There may also be paid media opportunities, he says, that relate to AR experiences. “It becomes something that brands can act on,” Lansford says. There may be direct relationships between a brand and a creative agency working on AR, he says, or developers doing independent work that could be sold to a brand.

Through the new iPhones, AR will be able reach a game changing scale, Lansford says, that starts to matter in a tangible way. “There’s a ton of stuff coming on that front that brands need to pay attention to,” he says. “It’s a rich, engaging opportunity for brands.”

Joao-Pierre Ruth is a Street Fight contributor.