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What is augmented reality?

The marketing and advertising worlds have, in the last couple of years, witnessed a revolution called augmented reality (AR). AR allows brands to provide their customers with unique, engaging experiences that combine ‘real’ and virtual interactive elements. This emerging trend is changing the marketing and sales game, becoming one of the main choices among B2C markets.

AR can be applied in many different ways, such as in apps or connected packaging. In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of augmented reality in marketing, as well as explain how your business could benefit from this fresh, interactive virtual solution and stand out from the crowd.

How augmented reality can benefit marketing

AR offers a whole world of solutions for a wide range of enterprises across different industries. In fact, the benefits of augmented reality in marketing are endless, particularly for creative brands that make use of this cutting-edge technology in attracting and engaging their audiences.

These solutions can be applied to easily show customers how to use a specific product or service without having to spend many hours reading extensive instruction manuals.

As it is now possible to experience AR with almost any web browser, users don’t need to buy expensive equipment, as they can use their smartphone’s camera and enjoy the ride. Also, augmented reality solutions can be used for other marketing purposes, such as enhancing sales presentations and proposals.

Augmented reality apps for marketing

The growth in AR-capable devices has played a large part in making augmented reality more commonplace for marketing, advertising and sales purposes.

Many times online purchasers face the inconvenience of not being able to try on their clothes or shoes before buying them, eventually ending up disappointed when trying out their new products for the first time. Augmented reality apps for marketing solve this issue, as it is now possible to virtually try a product before purchasing, which will ultimately increase customer satisfaction.

Furniture and interior design companies, such as Ikea, are also increasingly using AR solutions for their businesses. They now offer users the opportunity to virtually display new pieces of furniture in their living rooms and kitchens by simply using a mobile phone app.

Augmented reality in content marketing

Campaigns such as Burger King’s ‘Burn that Ad’ – where users were rewarded with a free meal at BK by pointing their smartphones at a McDonald’s outdoor ad and see them “burn” on their phone – are revolutionising the way brands can advertise and promote their products. However, augmented reality in content marketing is also changing the way users can consume some products.

Magazines and books, for example, are now using their printed versions as platforms to explore virtual opportunities. Openbook Howden has done this with its interactive print, as well as many other children's book publishers, as they allow kids to use smartphones to bring their favourite characters ‘alive’ and convert reading into a multimedia animated experience.

The pros and cons of augmented reality marketing

Like anything in life, there are obviously pros and cons of augmented reality marketing solutions. On one hand, as you can see from the examples given so far, augmented reality solutions are simple to use, easily accessible and increase the engagement between users and brands. Communication can also be largely enhanced in some particular industries, such as real estate, as buyers can now make virtual visits to properties without having to travel long distances and waste time to do so.

However, more exciting than that is the fact that it can create a sense of ownership of some product for the user before the purchase is complete. For instance, if you virtually try some cool sunglasses and you’d like to see them on your face through the screen of your laptop or smartphone, you are much more likely to complete the process and end up ordering them. This can happen with clothing, furniture and even vehicles after a virtual test drive.

On the other hand, this innovative solution, as all tech-based experiences, still has some flaws. Apart from obviously requiring the user to have at least a smartphone (no, you can’t enjoy AR in your old rotary dial telephone), as with all tech-based solutions you might face the issue of having a glitch in the system, a temporary error or a frozen image. However, as the technology is maturing, solutions are becoming more reliable.

Also, as with any app or smart solution, there may be privacy concerns for the users. Even though security has become one of the top priorities for AR app developers by using patches, encryption and applying other security practices, you can always protect your privacy by using strong codes in trusted devices while enjoying an augmented reality experience.

Augmented reality marketing campaigns by Appetite Creative

At Appetite Creative we are specialists in producing the best, most creative and most effective augmented reality marketing campaigns. If you want to improve your service, step up the relationship with your customers and generate leads, make sure you hire an experienced agency which has worked for the biggest players across different industries to get the best results out of your campaign.

As an example, we have teamed up with Vodafone, developing an augmented reality app from the ground up, that allows the brand’s users to go on a virtual treasure hunt by scanning QR codes and receiving clues within the app.

We can provide this type of solution or any other that suits your brand, contact us today so we can discuss your next AR project.

Jenny Stanley is managing director at Appetite Creative.