AR is emerging at a time when the physical retail world is undergoing significant transformation. Things like Amazon Go stores and the counteractive “retail as a service” movement have raised awareness and hunger for retail evolution. So AR’s retail shopping use cases fall on fertile soil.
But retail is just one way that AR intersects with local commerce. AR comes into play in another key local commerce category: home services. Innovators like Streem are bringing remote assistance to traditional service calls (think: busted pipe).
Augmented reality is making the leap from hyped technology of the future to driver of cutting-edge marketing techniques today. To document the state of the field and shine a light on those use cases, the IAB released its AR marketing playbook earlier this month.
In case you’re too busy to peruse the pdf, I’ll detail the major use cases outlined in the report.
The notion of “helping you get things done,” emphasized by Sundar Pichai in his I/O keynote, provides a through-line for many of the event’s announcements. It struck me watching the presentations how thoroughly Google has become a consumer electronics company, a marketer of devices where search is more a central feature than a standalone product. Google, in other words, has become thoroughly dedicated to marketing its famous search capabilities in the context of devices that help you perform daily tasks. In the process, it is transforming local search and how we relate to the world with electronic devices.
Though visual search challengers such as Snapchat and Pinterest could shine in niche use cases such as fashion items, Google will rule as the best all-around utility for visual search. It has the deepest tech stack, and the substance (knowledge graph) to be useful beyond just a flashy novelty for identifying things visually.
The name of the game now is to get users to adopt it. Google Lens won’t be a silver bullet and will shine in a few areas where Google is directing users, such as pets and flowers. But it will really shine in product search, which happens to be where monetization will eventually come into the picture.
As we approach the 5G era, the dramatic quantum leap of 5G service enhances many creative capabilities in XR, providing richer user experiences and giving marketers and developers a larger digital playground to expand their creative talents.
Still, there’s confusion in the market over how these innovations work and, critically, how they can work together. Let’s take a closer look.
Use cases will materialize over time, but it’s already clear that visual search can carry lots of commercial intent. Point your phone at a store or restaurant to get business details. Point your phone at a pair of shoes on the street to find out prices, reviews, and purchase info. This proximity between the searcher and the subject indicates high intent, which means higher conversions and more money for Google. Moreover, visual search has the magic combination of frequency and utility, which could make it the first scalable AR use case: making the real world clickable.
Worldwide spending on AR is expected to reach $215 billion by 2021, as new hardware ships and AR moves further into the mainstream. Acceleration in the AR market is also being boosted by brands’ growing frustration over the limitations in display advertising. With AR, brands can bypass ad blockers and unleash their creativity in a bid to capture the attention of consumers. Let’s take a look at how six top brands are using AR for experience marketing right now.
For brand marketers, addressing the expansion of local search into voice and visual contexts is really a matter of digging in and getting more involved with rich local context that appears to grow more expansive by the day. Google alone has introduced a vast array of opportunities for business to differentiate themselves from the competition, including photos, videos, 360° virtual tours, business descriptions, menus, Posts, reviews, and several other features.
Mike Boland: AR may not play out in the way you think, at least in the near term. Though it’s generally thought of as graphical overlays on your field of view, another “overlay” could be more viable in the near term: sound. This “audio AR” modality could come sooner than—and eventually coexist with—its graphical cousin.
While visual search isn’t exactly catching on like fire yet, its evolution is buttressed by powerful developments of late in the tech industry. Among these: smartphones are increasingly ubiquitous, more efficient, and we’re all more accustomed to using them; investment in AI from both big companies and startups is widespread, making machine vision more effective; and augmented reality (AR), a similar modality in which tech overlays graphics onto images captured via camera lens, is taking off. Below are a few ways visual search will play out in local and retail in 2019.
On this week’s LBMA podcast: AdMov, Xamoom celebrates “Silent Night,” Burger King swipes McDonald’s customers, Dunkin’ fools Portland, MA, Stella Artois’ beer-serving robot, Target selling Christmas trees with AR.
What’s driving AR today? And what does it mean for big consumer brands? Our lead analyst Mike Boland tackles these questions in this week’s Road Map column, which delves into the tech giants’ investments in AR and what they mean for the future of XR-driven brand advertising.
Walmart posted strong sales in Q3, suggesting that its determination to compete with Amazon by investing in cutting-edge, tech-driven approaches to retail is paying dividends. Read on for some of the top trends Walmart is capitalizing on.
Mike Boland: We know about the advantages of e-commerce. There’s more supply, transparency, cost efficiency, inventory (a.k.a “endless aisle”), and the ability to dynamically search and filter product attributes. AR can engender a sort of hybrid UX that brings these features to store aisles. The losers in the next era of retail will be those who try to fight this experiential innovation.
On this week’s episode of the Location-Based Marketing Association podcast: Ryff, Singapore’s new QR payments, Briggo coffee, Crate & Barrel, Pizza Hut goes AR for NFL, Uber to buy Deliveroo.
Questions about AR ownership will be particularly contentious wherever money is changing hands, such as in AR advertising. Courts will face questions such as ownership of digital ad inventory when there are AR overlays on private property (or on other ads). There could be similar gray area in retail & commerce.
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Online-to-offline (O2O) commerce is one area where AR will find a home. Just think: Is there any better technology to unlock O2O commerce than one that literally melds physical and digital worlds? AR can shorten gaps in time and space that currently separate those interactions (e.g. search) from offline outcomes.
According to a recent survey, AR users like what they see, with a whopping 73% reporting high or very high satisfaction. But non-users report explicit disinterest, with the biggest reason being the rather daunting “just not interested.” This presents a big hill for AR app developers to climb.