The thing about local commerce is that nearly every technology and macro trend in the tech world touches it. Just like all politics is local, all tech is local. But some technologies apply more than others. Mobile proximity payments to order and pay for your latte are more “local” than, say, blockchain.

Another technology currently emerging has a deep and fundamental alignment with local: augmented reality. AR is inherently conducive to local commerce, as geo-anchoring aspects of the technology provide a foundation for utilities like local search and discovery of location-fused digital content.

This is playing out in many ways, including Google’s “internet of places” aspirations to let you point your phone at storefronts to reveal information like business details and reviews. It’s also happening in brand advertising activations to let consumers visualize products in 3D through mobile AR interfaces.

The latter is the focus of M7 Innovations, our latest guest on Heard on the Street (listen above). As we wrote a few months ago, the digital marketing agency worked with Panera for its latest AR ad campaign on Snapchat. Panera customers could visualize menu items in their immediate space through AR lenses.

M7 founder Matt Maher tells us there are several advantages to this new flavor of brand marketing. AR’s immersion creates strong consumer engagement, which can be seen in metrics like session lengths. In-store activations mean lower-funnel impact near the point of purchase.

“On Facebook, basically one of every four people who saw the AR ad went in store to Panera after they saw it,” said Maher. “On Snap, it was 2.8% of anyone who actually experienced it, then made a digital purchase […] AR is very engaging. It gets people to click through; it gets people to actually play around with these models. But the second piece is what AR actually does to the brain […] Qreal just did a study with Oxford and New South Wales University, and we now have scientific data that proves that when a human sees a dish in 3D in full photogrammetry, it increases their craveability. It increases them wanting to actually consume that dish rather than just seeing a 2d image.”  

This plays out differently across verticals and product categories. AR is proving to add ample value wherever product visualization is additive to consumer confidence or “craveability.” This applies to cosmetics and fashion, especially now that social distancing precludes in-store try-ons.

We discuss the ins and outs on the latest episode of Heard on the Street. Listen above, find out more about Heard on the Street, and see our episode archive hereContact us if you’d like to sponsor an episode, and check out Street Fight’s media kit for the full slate of visibility options.

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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 www.mikebo.land