What Will AR Mean for Consumer Brands?

Share this:

The following post refers to the content of a talk given at a summit hosted by local marketing tech vendor Brandify. Brandify is Street Fight’s publisher.

Click here to watch the video of the session.

What’s driving AR today? And what does it mean for big consumer brands? These were a few topics we tackled in a recent presentation at the Brandify Summit, built on research around AR brand advertising.

When looking at AR in general, one source of confidence for its impact comes from the profundity of tech giants’ investment in it. This can also shed light on AR’s direction. In other words, examining the factors that drive deep-pocketed tech giants’ AR ambitions can inform where they’re moving and thus “where the puck is going.”

So what are tech giants’ comparative motivations? Apple wants to make iPhones more attractive through AR apps and features. Facebook wants to keep us in its walled garden through visually immersive content sharing like AR Lenses. Lenses also attract advertisers through immersive and socially targeted ad units.

Amazon has AR features that likewise let shoppers visualize products in-home to boost e-commerce and reduce returns. It’s all about more informed purchases through AR. And Google has a vested interest in AR-based visual search to boost monetizable search query volume.

Back to brand marketing, it applies mostly to Amazon (AR commerce), Facebook (AR display advertising), and Google (AR search advertising). In fact, AR advertising is beginning to map to the ad formats with which we’re already familiar and comfortable. The dividing lines are similar to search and display ads.

For example, the most prevalent form of AR ads today is AR lenses on Snapchat and Facebook. They can enhance upper-funnel brand awareness by letting consumers playfully interact with products. Lower-funnel actions are achieved by contextualizing products at or near the point of purchase. And this approach is already showing results.

With respect to search, AR is taking form in tools like Google Lens and VPS—potentially powerful all-day and “high-intent” channels for brand marketing. For users, it’s an intuitive way to get information about stores or products by simply holding up your phone. That also makes it appealing to millennials’ high camera affinity. 

But one challenge is that effective visual search requires further development in the AR Cloud, or what we like to call the “Internet of Places.” That’s especially true for location-oriented brands like multi-location chain restaurants or retailers. The AR Cloud ensures that all of the right spatially anchored store data is in the right place. 

Another analogy we like to use for the AR Cloud is that it’s like Google’s search index but for the physical world. Carrying that analogy forward as it pertains to multi-location brands, they’ll need to do a version of the SEO and listings management they currently do for online and mobile local search.

In other words, in a world where consumers hold up their phones to get info about nearby stores and the products they carry (not to mention indoor/in-aisle info), having all that data correct and spatially anchored will extend from the SEO that brands do today. We call it visual SEO (VSEO), though it’s not really a thing yet. 

But that just scratches the surface in terms of the marketing implications for large consumer brands that will need to develop marketing strategies around immersive tech and spatial computing. We’ll circle back soon with a deeper dive on VSEO, and you can also see the full presentation video below.

Mike Boland is Street Fight’s lead analyst, author of the Road Map column, and producer of the Heard on the Street podcast. He covers AR & VR as chief analyst of ARtillry Intelligence and SF President of the VR/AR Association. He has been an analyst in the local space since 2005, covering mobile, social, and emerging tech. 

Click the image below to watch the full video


Mike Boland has been a tech & media analyst for the past two decades, specifically covering mobile, local, and emerging technologies. He has written for Street Fight since 2011. More can be seen at Localogy.com