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In 2016, the success of the Pokémon Go phenomenon showed that Augmented Reality (AR) had become a mainstream technology. To help educate marketers about how to utilize this additional layer for reality, the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence is out with a free “Augmented Reality for Marketing Playbook“.
A billion users
In AR, a video image from a camera, often a camera on a mobile device, provides the real-world background to a superimposed artificial reality that is layered on top. Depending on the type of AR, that overlay can sometimes recognize actions and physical objects in the real world so that, for instance, an animated dinosaur dancing on a tabletop might “fall” when it reaches the table’s edge. By comparison, virtual reality (VR) generates a complete world, instead of overlaying an artificial reality on top of the real world.
The potential market for AR is already huge. Supported in both the Apple and Android mobile platforms, AR is expected to have a billion users by next year and hit $2.2 billion in ad spend by 2022, according to market researcher Markets and Markets.
Last year, the IAB published a Glossary to AR and VR terms, and this playbook highlights some of those definitions. It points out that one type of AR experience includes a “marker” in the real world, which can be a QR code or a recognized object (like a dog), either of which could trigger the display of specific AR content.
BMW, Pokémon Go, and SDKs
The playbook cites 2008 as the beginning of AR advertising when BMW ran a print ad for its Mini Cabrio convertible in an otherwise ordinary print magazine. When the ad was held to a computer’s webcam and viewed through the Internet Explorer browser, a 3D model of the car appeared on top of the page.
Other stunts followed until the introduction of Snap Lenses in 2015 began to mainstream the technology. It offered AR layers on top of Snapchat imagery, and thirty million users employed the Lenses in the first year of its launch.
Then the Pokémon Go craze in 2016 changed the perception of AR in marketing, with more than $2 billion in in-app purchases made so far and almost 800 million downloads through the end of last year. AR Software Development Kits (SDKs) were released in 2017 and 2018 by such major tech firms as Apple, Amazon, Snap, Google, and Facebook.
The marketing use cases
Users can access AR via an enabled app or browser, usually in a mobile device, or through a head-mounted display, but it’s the accessibility inside virtually every mobile device that makes the technology such a game-changer.
Unlike some technologies, AR’s marketing uses are clear.
“By putting digital assets into your physical world with augmented reality, we can drive pre-purchase trial of new products, use a portal to transport you to another world, and truly make storytelling experiential again”
Meredith Corp. Director of Innovation and IAB AR Working Group co-chair Joelle Mefford told ClickZ via email.
The playbook offers some examples of AR in social platforms, gaming, retail, and search. Last month, Google announced the availability of AR in search, meaning that users can now view and interact with 3D objects in search results, and can place them into the real world.
A search on “great white shark”, for example, results in an option in the resulting Google Knowledge Panel to view examples of that creation in 3D AR over a real-world background from the mobile device’s camera.
Needed: New metrics
Although the ad industry is still figuring out how to employ this transformational technology, the playbook points out several kinds of existing ad units. There are sponsored Snapchat Lenses, AR-enhanced websites, in-app and in-game AR ad units, in-feed ad units, and various kinds of custom sponsored content.
In addition to getting a sponsorship credit or using AR to promote specific products or events, brands can also place their logos, ads or products inside AR experiences.
This comprehensive guide to the booming field of AR marketing also touches on how marketers can measure whether their investment is worthwhile. In addition to traditional metrics like engagement or brand impact, the report notes that new forms of measuring AR-based engagement or brand impact need to emerge.