Interest and investment in augmented reality and immersive digital marketing is greater than it’s ever been before. Through the journey of evolving brands, we have witnessed the adoption of a mobile-first creative approach. Augmented Reality marketing provides brands with a highly desired tool in their belt when it comes to driving sales and enhancing brand value through mobile devices.
The explosive growth of immersive marketing saw big brand wins during the early days of the adoption of AR in marketing. Because of this, AR emerged as one of the fastest-growing digital marketing trends, alongside voice commerce and the use of first-party data. Industries ranging from e-commerce to fintech and FMCGs raced to leverage AR marketing for their brands.
This growth has been witnessed with Augmented Reality marketing playing a key role in social media marketing as well. While Snapchat was one of the first social media giants to adopt AR, Instagram was quick to follow. Google, too, launched AR powered 3D images in searches for products on various e-commerce brands early this year. This proves that AR can be used in multiple ways for a number of different reasons, whether it’s increasing user engagement or offering interactive elements for consumers.
The first step to creating a space to build AR-powered apps, experiences and campaigns were taken by tech giants like Facebook, Apple and Google. They created platforms like Spark AR, Apple’s ARKit, and Google’s ARCore which made it simpler to leverage AR in marketing and products for any brand.
But the doors for AR marketing only really opened with the conception of Facebook’s augmented reality suite Spark AR Studio. This tool allowed anyone to create their own filters and campaigns which could be utilized for Facebook and Instagram Stories. Free for all to use, Spark AR by Facebook has provided a platform for many brands to create their own AR effects and filters. This quickly launched Augmented Reality marketing to new heights.
While e-commerce brands, specifically beauty and lifestyle, were quick to tap into the feature by allowing customers to try out products, brands also leveraged AR for high impact brand awareness. A prime example of this was Adidas Original’s decision to create a custom AR effect that was in line with the trend of vintage filters and retro photographs at the time. Their filter added a nostalgic look to your stories, including a ‘glitch’ effect. This custom AR effect was extremely share-worthy, very on-trend and was perfect for building brand awareness!
AR marketing witnessed a peak in the entertainment industry as well, with several well-known media giants tapping into Augmented Reality marketing for the launch of largescale projects. Known celebrities and producers used AR in marketing for movies, TV shows, and even new music. This was seen most prominently with Netflix. One of their largest campaigns tied up with the New York Times and Google Lens for readers to scan and discover images that led to a Stranger Things reveal.
The use of Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality is expected to steadily grow as more brands across sectors leverage it to engage their core audience. India is projected to increase both the creation and consumption of immersive media following the global trend. Brands in real estate, media and entertainment, automotive, and retail are expected to showcase the maximum adoption due to clear use cases, as per the Nasscom Graphic: Geetanjali.
By 2022, over $6.5 billion would be the estimated size of the Indian immersive media market, with a higher percentage of it pouring in from the Augment Reality market. Around $5.9 billion is expected, in comparison to the $0.5 billion estimated from the VR market, due to higher costs for creation and execution. The explosive growth of 172% from 2018 to 2022 can be attributed to the easily accessible tools and adoption of Immersive media by top Indian brands.
AR marketing has the capability to improve and create an immersive experience thereby leading to better brand perception if created well. As such, it is essential for brands not to use AR for novelty purposes, but to build a more seamless experience that would provide a positive AR experience while thinking about the long-term benefits of the experience.
Brands like Pepsi, with their #SwagStepChallenge and Lifebuoy, with #LifebuoyKarona, have used AR filters to create hashtag challenges on channels like TikTok to increase buzz around the brand. They roped in celebrities and influencer marketing campaigns to further amplify their AR filters. This helped create a massive awareness of their brand recording explosive cumulative reach of over 85 Billion views on both hashtags on TikTok, without the notion of driving sales or action.
Augmented Reality is often perceived with the restricted utility reserved for selfies or social media filters. However, the Augmented Reality market can stretch further this with the capacity for much larger impact. The ability to allow a customer to try out products without leaving their home or their screen is a level of immersion and interaction that even interactive ads cannot offer.
By creating AR versions of a product or set of products, brands can provide customers with a better idea on the actual look and feel, while simultaneously setting the right expectations for them in terms of the deliverables.
Brands that have most heavily used and relied on leveraging the tool are present in the retail, beauty and lifestyle segments. L’Oréal’s virtual makeup tool was a path-defining AR creation which helped customers across the globe test and try their makeup virtually anywhere. They added another step helping to enhance the marketability - the option to try the superimposed makeup in real-time with the filter, or take an existing picture to upload and have the filter tested on.
On the other hand, providing a vision to home and interiors, IKEA paved a way for real estate companies by allowing customers to view their products in real-time within their own homes. This increased the possibility of purchase with increased visualization, leaving very little to the imagination.
The real estate sector now faces the need to implement AR in product visualisation as well, especially to keep up with marketing during COVID-19. With fewer brokers and agents taking on home visits due to the restrictions imposed by authorities, it has become difficult to meet the existing demand for house hunters. While many have turned to virtual tours, AR can significantly drive sales, during and after this pandemic.
Your core audience is bombarded with a colossal amount of marketing messages every day, making it hard for marketers to ensure their message is heard. Providing your brand with the parachute of AR and adding a layer of immersive marketing can place it above other brands in a consumer's mind.
Making the brand more interactive, healthcare brand Medlife leveraged Facebook Augmented Reality marketing to educate viewers on the CPR procedure. This created deeper engagement for the audience by providing learning and greater rewards to their subconscious mind as well.
For brands who are dependent on the physical store experience to drive business, Augmented Reality provides the potential to amplify this by creating a digital experience simultaneously. A frequent example of this is seen with QR codes and bar codes that can be scanned. Doing so pulls up an AR manual or experience with detailed information on the product and brand.
Two popular examples of Hyundai and Mercedes have showcased how the auto industry has utilized AR to improve customer experiences. While Hyundai created AR-powered manuals for drivers, Mercedes created an app integrating AI to ‘Ask Mercedes’ any questions relating to the product and brand similar to a chatbot.
Augmented reality is a tool which can transform the B2B customer-vendor experience with the help of a single click. Limitations of what a vendor is able to provide, along with the misaligned customer experiences, is eliminated with the help of AR.
Creating dynamic sales presentation material to the customer with AR-powered content can provide a virtual 360-degree look at their product lines, and is one of the most used technologies in the B2B space.
Ever imagined that you could be in two places at once? With the help of a VR headset, this can be achieved. This novelty soon became a reality as the COVID-19 outbreak caused many companies to shift to a work-from-home model. Business continuity is a key focus for organizations while they are also looking to stay home to stay safe, but also want to provide real-time experiences. VR technology plays an important role to achieve this.
Companies like Quess, which is focused on sales-driven marketing and human interaction has their employees getting AI-powered training on their mobile devices. The face-reading AI also provides them with real-time feedback on their voice modulation, tone and facial expressions and key notes to focus on for improvement.
The biggest learning digital marketers can take from this is that it’s time to adapt. Investing in the available AI technologies to maximize your results has become the need of the hour. It is critical for your brand to reach the objective of managing more data effectively and improving your consumer experience.
The creative potential of using AR in marketing can provide your concepts and campaigns with an increased potential for brand awareness and recognition. 2020 is the year to explore immersive marketing to maximize your brand’s potential. At Social Beat, we implement a mixed marketing strategy which includes AR to enhance our efforts and deliver results.