Is Augmented Reality Marketing the Next Big Thing

Patricia Wilson
8 min read
Aug 20, 2018
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Augumented reality marketing

The forecast for the global augmented and virtual reality market size is pretty clear. We should expect to see massive growth by 2022. How massive? 209.2 billion dollars massive!

Augmented reality is one of the most important technology trends at this point. It’s extremely important for marketing experts, but most of us don’t fully understand it.

To make it clear: this technology adds a virtual layer over your real surroundings. You launch an app and you point your device to a piece of paper or any other real object. The app implements that object into the virtual world. That’s how it works, and it’s absolutely amazing!

For businesses, the appeal of augmented reality lays in engagement. The interactive experiences lead users to develop closer relationships with your brand.

In some cases, brands offer AR options in the form of software as a service. Most of the time, the purpose of this technology is fun engagement. Sometimes it could play a role of shocking announcement to get customers attention. But where do we currently stand? What shapes is AR technology taking in practical marketing projects?

We’ll list few examples that bring the theory to practice.

1. Porsche’s AR Test Drive

In March 2018, Porsche released an AR app that presents the concept for the brand new Mission E - the first ever purely electric Porsche. Just as this car presents the future, the app brings us into the future of marketing as well.

Porsche augumented reality test drive

The fans of the brand don’t have to wait for an actual test drive when they can use the app for free. This is what Kjell Gruner, Vice President Marketing at Porsche, said: “The augmented reality technology offers us ways to depict complex technical aspects of the new vehicle technology vividly and emotively. It is important to us that our customers can immerse themselves in tomorrow’s technology and convey enthusiasm at an early stage – any time, any place.”

And that says it all.

The app builds enthusiasm for the car before it even hits the streets. By the time that moment comes, the car will already feel familiar. Some people are already planning to get it, thanks to the experience they had with the app. Is that what we call good marketing or what?

It’s great not only because it brings the brand closer to its fans, but also because it launches an innovative concept. One of the app users said that “this could be the next level of gaming.”

2. Audi’s AR App

Porsche is not the only automotive brand that implements augmented reality into its marketing approach. Honda, Lexus, Chevrolet, Volkswagen, Audi, BMW, and KIA also brought such experiences to its audiences. Audi, in particular, has a pretty innovative approach.

First, you need to install the app. It will ask you to scan the floor of your room (you can also scan your driveway since that’s where you want to picture your Audi). The app lets you design your own track. Then, all you need to do is watch Audi’s TV commercial through your device, and you’ll gain a whole new experience.

Audi ar app

So you can finally take the perfect car for a drive!

This approach enables a seamless transition from the TV ad to the app. Even after the TV ad ends, the car remains in the room.

Roberto Fernandez, marketing expert from Assignment Masters, explains: “Think about it: the TV add lasts for about 30 seconds. When you have the app, however, you keep engaging with the company’s marketing campaign. Even if it’s just for three minutes, Audi’s marketing team achieved a lot!”

3. Acura’s Live-Streamed AR Race

We’re still in the automotive industry, so bear with us. Acura launched the world’s first live augmented reality race through a live Facebook video. It gets even better: they used influencers of various niches in the campaign. Sam Gorski, Zachary Levi, Maude Garrett, and Dom Esposito participated. The hosts of the challenge were Bradley Hasemeyer (TV personality) and Ryan Eversley (race car driver).

Influencers have a huge following base on social media, so this was a winning trick. The live stream got tons of engagement, with hundreds of shares and thousands of comments.

Acura live streamed AR race

The challenge was designed to present the latest Acura to the audience. So what was the experience like? Through augmented reality technology, they faced a different type of setting with unique obstacles and visuals on each lap. They basically drove the car in a world of fantasy, but it felt incredibly realistic. It was a fun type of marketing that the audience hadn’t seen before. And the challenge was streamed via Facebook Live, so kudos to that!

4. Coca-Cola Magic

Think of any Coca-Cola commercial and you’ll probably end up with a smile on your face. That’s the goal of this brand’s marketing team: to make people smile. They’ve achieved it many times, mainly through their holiday campaigns. But when they introduced the Coca-Cola Magic AR app for the Armenian market, they took things to the next level.

All you had to do was just hold your iOS or Android device over the Coca-Cola logo, and the app made magic – a funny Santa appeared and brought the festive mood with the inevitable Christmas song.

The results were not bad at all. The teaser video got over 40K views, and the app was downloaded over 50K times in a month. It was the top new app in Google Play and #1 in all categories in the App Store. It reached over 250K people. Keep in mind that the project was developed solely for the Armenian market. So that success is huge.

5. Jurassic World Alive

The marketing campaign for a popular movie does not end once the movie is being launched, especially if we’re talking about a massive blockbuster like Jurassic Park.

The movie already makes us believe that dinosaurs returned to Earth, but the app makes that thought more real than ever. As you point your device towards your surroundings, you discover dinosaurs roaming free. You’ll see dinosaurs that you have to save from a second extinction, but you’ll also discover new breeds – scarier than ever before.

Currently, almost 300K people have used downloaded the app from Google’s App Store. Now that’s the kind of engagement that all marketing teams strive for. The app brings the movie’s characters into the daily lives of its fans. It just shows the great potential that augmented reality has.

6. The Simmons SIMulator

This app is no longer available for download, but it’s still a great example of augmented reality being used in smart marketing.

What’s the most important thing before getting a new mattress? Try it! That’s what everyone will tell you. Mattresses are an important investment and people do a lot of research before making the purchase.

Well, Simmons took that research and trial further with this app. When the shoppers went to the store to check out orthopedic mattresses, they could simply point their phones to see details about the materials and the advantages of each model. They could pinch the mattress using their fingers, and they could dive into the different layers of the model.

The interactive animations were fun and they made the entire shopping experience way better.

7. Sephora’s Visual Artist

The fashion industry has been rather slow in adapting to the AR trend, but there’s no lack of examples in the makeup world. Sephora, in particular, attracted tons of attention with its Visual Artist AR app.

Sephora visual artists app

The users can try different products to see how they would look on their face before making the purchase. In addition, they could try on different looks created by Sephora’s makeup artists, so they could learn few tricks while exploring the products. They could try on different trends, such as contouring. It’s never been easier to experiment with makeup… and make awesome selfies!

What does this example teach us? Augmented reality is all about bringing people into a different world, but it has to feel real. Through the Visual Artist, the users can see a reflection of a different “self” - one they would really like and could recreate if they purchased the products.

Could you think of a better way to stimulate more purchases? The fact that you can purchase the products directly from the app is even more important from a marketer’s point of view.

Augmented Reality Is the (Near) Future of Marketing

An ISACA survey from 2016 showed that US consumers saw great value in augmented reality. They believed that this technology could add significant personal convenience and great business value. At that point, 37% of the surveyed organizations had not used AR applications and didn’t have any plans to do so in the next year. Today, the situation is a bit different.

AR may be one of the best ways to enhance the quality of your business.

With so many awesome examples of AR-infused marketing campaigns, it’s safe to say that this is where the future of marketing lies. The consumers are willing to try new apps and new technologies. With so many options around, they are more demanding than ever, so the competition among brands has been elevated to a higher level.

Cover image: "Blade Runner 2049," WARNER BROS.

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