Marketers need to come to grips with the fast evolving digital world – augmented reality, virtual reality, mixed reality, the metaverse – before they will commit significant budgets to these technologies. But determining how to best employ augmented reality (AR) is a complicated issue. According to Mobile Marketer, 52% of retailers are not yet ready to integrate AR into the shopping experience due to a lack of expertise, implementation costs, as well as a lack understanding of appropriate uses and measurement metrics.
by Len Stein
In this Q&A column with Rich Watson, founder and CEO of AugmentedHype, we will attempt to provide some clarity as to what role these tools should play in marketing campaigns.
1. There’s been much confusion surrounding the Metaverse at large and its potential role in digital marketing. To begin, can you briefly define the Metaverse, Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and Mixed Reality (MR).
Watson: The Metaverse is an interconnected, shared virtual world made up of user-generated content, where people can interact with each other in real time. Augmented Reality overlays digital images and objects in the real world. Virtual Reality uses immersive headsets to create a simulated environment. Mixed Reality combines elements of both AR and VR to create a hybrid of the two, often referred to as “Passthrough.”
2. Market research shows that consumers enjoy using AR applications; Nielsen reports that 56% of shoppers feel it gives them more confidence in the quality of a product. But brands still question the technology and its impact on return on investment. Can you discuss how AR applications enhance the sampling, shopping, and gaming experience?
Watson: Absolutely. AR can enhance the sampling, shopping, and gaming experience in several ways. With VTO or virtual “try on,” users can experience products before they buy them, allowing them to get a better picture of how the products would fit into their life. They can also allow shoppers to interact with products in an immersive way, giving them a better feel for the product before they purchase. Additionally, AR enhances the gaming experience by providing interactive visuals in a 3D environment. AR provides brands with an engaging and personalized experience for consumers, thus increasing customer satisfaction and retention.
3. Three important uses of AR are: entertainment, education and evaluation.
Watson: AR allows brands to create innovative experiences that can captivate and entertain their customers. Studies have shown that AR is up to 9x more engaging than other “business as usual creative” used within marketing campaigns. It helps customers understand more complex products and services by providing them with interactive visual context that is better retained by the brain and easily remembered when later compared to a competitor.
4. Most recent research shows that AR increases consumer emotional engagement, time spent with an application and user favorability. What factors do brand stewards need to consider when they set forth to create AR applications?
Watson: They should consider factors such as user experience and engagement, content quality, technology capabilities, user journey, and the target audience. They should also consider how their AR experience will capture user attention, provide value to the user, and differentiate their product or service from their competitors. It’s important for brands to have a clear strategy for creating and maintaining their experience, to ensure their long-term success and optimization.
5. It appears that presently some of the most popular applications have been in the luxury products category, as well as for new or niche brands. What are some of the properties of AR that make it especially impactful here?
Watson: Some of the properties of AR that make it particularly effective in the luxury products category are its ability to create a personalized shopping experience, provide immersive visuals to the user and provide interactive experiences that engage like never before. By providing an interactive and immersive experience, brands can increase customer loyalty and create an emotional connection with their audiences. This helps lower barriers for customers when it comes to making a purchase decision.
6. Please outline what you see are some of the most successful uses of AR in recent marketing campaigns.
Watson: There are more and more successful use cases for AR coming out every day. One noteworthy example is Sephora’s AR-powered virtual try-on tool, allowing customers to virtually try on makeup products before they purchase them; Warby Parker’s AR-powered app that lets customers virtually try on glasses; and Converse’s AR-powered shoe customization feature, allowing customers to customize their shoes with their favorite colors, patterns, and textures. There are just examples of VTO (virtual try on) Augmented Reality experiences, which are just one of the many ways AR can be used within marketing campaigns.
7. AR and VR have been at odds since their emergence. Will 2023 signal the beginning of a unification of AR and VR through a new generation of mixed reality device headsets and displays. In short, will 2023 be the year AR goes mainstream?
It is highly likely that 2023 will be a pivotal year for the mass adoption of augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) technology, due to the emergence of next-generation mixed reality devices such as the Meta Quest Pro, Lenovo’s ThinkReality VRX, and similar devices. These devices offer a combination of features from both AR and VR in one device, allowing users to experience immersive and interactive content in an unprecedented way.
But before any of that takes off in a big way, brands need to understand how AR can be used today on mobile devices such as iPhones and Android models, through either the web, social platforms or apps. Once brands are more educated, there will be a rush of demand to understand AR’s marketing benefits – and that’s why I am here.
Len Stein is president and founder of Visibility public relations. A pioneer in interactive marketing positioning and branding, Stein has represented leaders, including: OgilvyOne, Organic New York, DeepEnd and Rapp Digital, as well as innovative agencies: Archrival, Site Specific, Last Exit and Rokkan. Len is also a contributing editor to Branding magazine, and frequently writes for MediaPost’s Marketing Daily and the Bulldog Reporter.
Photo by Lucrezia Carnelos on Unsplash.
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