Michael Calia - 01/30/2017
Over the past couple of years, technological innovations have been driving new and interesting marketing trends. One prominent case of this would be the recent innovations in video. Not only is video quality getting better, but we are constantly seeing new opportunities that change how we use video. One big topic toward the end of 2016 was live video. Though it was not exactly a new idea, it became incredibly easy and accessible. But live video will soon become last year’s thing— and that’s not just because it was all the rage, literally, last year. Don’t get me wrong, live video will grow to new levels in 2017, but the New Year is going to bring more to the table.
In addition to video, you can’t really have a conversation about any sort of technological or marketing trend without discussing mobile. The reason for this is that the world is more on-the-go every day. According to Smart Insights—and no surprise here—more people are using mobile devices as their primary media source. But making mobile content means more than just making pages look good on smaller screens. It means catering to that on-the-go factor. This could mean location-tracking features, which some brands use as a way to drive people to their stores, offering promotions to people depending on when they actually are in proximity to certain locations. In keeping withthe on-the-go theme, as helpful and innovative an idea as this is, it will soon be old news so forward-thinking is a must.
What is AR?
What about a combining mobile and live video? Enter Augmented Reality, or AR, which draws from aspects of both ideas. It combines live-action with mobility to produce something completely different. Putting it simply, AR involves adding to the real world through the use of technology. As opposed to virtual reality, which places users into a fully simulated digital environment, AR overlays digital effects onto the real physical world. The most common form used today is viewing the world through a mobile device that shows computer-generated features on a screen. What
was once a lonely sidewalk can transform into a trail through a candy cane forest. Your own backyard can become a scene out of Jurassic Park. Obviously, these aren’t the best uses of AR, but you get the idea. The possibilities of AR are pretty much endless, and its use draws from being equal parts cool and conventional. It simply makes things better by giving users convenient access to important information in an entertaining way.
That “cool” factor becomes of crucial importance in these new innovations. After all, it won’t be as valuable if people don’t want to share it with their friends, right? Why was Pokémon Go one of the most popular apps of 2016? Aside from tapping into fans’ nostalgia, the game was built around exciting and futuristic AR features. The fact that it made something appear from almost nothing made everyone want to at least try it out. This is the very appeal to AR. It makes the outside world appear to be more fun, more interesting and just more than it actually is. Like Pokémon Go, utilizing this cutting edge technology may result in a viral response, leading to an increase in a brand’s popularity.
How to Use It
Seeing some uses of AR would no doubt make many people think of what old sci-fi movies predicted the future would be like, and those movies were almost right. But there is a conventional side to it, too. For example, AR is already prominent in the retail industry; brands are using it to conveniently provide benefits to their customers without physically bringing them anything. Wondering how a piece of furniture would look in your home before going to the store? You can use mobile apps with AR features to see how that coffee table would look in your living room in real time. Found a pair of sunglasses online but aren’t sure how they’d actually look on you? With AR, you can see what they’d look like on your face without so much as getting off the couch. Some retail operations have apps that use AR to guide customers through their stores, and in some cases, you can even see product details, such as nutritional information, fun product uses and promotional details, just by pointing your phone at an item on display.
These features are not exclusive to retail or gaming industries. AR has been, and will continue to be used across any industries that would benefit from driving customers to visit specific locations, explaining concepts or processes to customers in entertaining ways, or even just providing exciting uses of AR that can generate some buzz about the brand.
What Lies Ahead?
AR for business will likely follow the same pattern that most tech-related innovations follow, in which something gets a lot of attention for being the “shiny, new toy,” early adopters or specific groups jump on it right out of the gate, and then more and more companies figure out how to leverage the technology to their advantage. While AR is new to many people it’s actually been around for a couple of years now, but the uses of it are getting better and expanding, which is expected of any new technological feature worth its salt. Even social media was just a way to connect with people and meet new friends before businesses uncovered its mass potential.
Exploring AR is a good idea for any business where it makes sense, but it’s important to not rely on it AR—or any one tactic, for that matter—as the sole component of a marketing campaign. Instead, use it to add to the experience. Sure, it offers an entertaining way for customers to interact and engage with products and brands in real time, but it works best as a complementary feature to a properly planned campaign. The technology is only getting better, which will likely lead to enhanced capabilities, resulting in more opportunities for marketers. Snapchat, the social media goliath that has been one of the leading users of AR, recently acquired an Israeli AR startup. What are they going to do with this? No one knows for sure yet. But, with their history of sponsored AR-based selfie filters, we can expect to see some cool stuff. Whatever road it takes, AR is a classic example of how technological innovations shape marketing trends.