Future of mobile marketing is augmented reality

Published: November 25, 2014 12:40:15 AM

There are tons of apps featuring augmented reality, available for everything from gaming to driving to furniture arrangement

THE new age customers are ‘mobile’ consumers, looking to multi-task between home and workplace. While working out at home they are visiting their favourite apparel website on their mobile phones, checking out new offers, garnering loyalty points or booking movie tickets. This on-the-go generation remains connected socially even at work and have mastered the craft of maximising productivity and collaboration, albeit on the go. The consumer in this connected age is therefore not driving all the action, he is at the centre of a microcosm wherein he is the recipient of a huge amount of targeted data! The question therefore: How in this hyper connected era, where consumers are inundated with huge amount of data, can brands and marketers stand out? Ensure they captivate their customer’s attention, to take a second look and follow through to buy the products, services and solutions they offer?

Interestingly, the smartphone has equipped marketers with interesting and innovative outreach options: ‘augmented reality marketing’ (AR), an easy tool that seems to have caught mainstream attention aided by the massive popularity of mobile and smartphone technologies. In simple worlds, AR marketing is the use of smartphones and smart apps that help engage consumers with rich and appealing content while inviting them to be part of a novel experience, rather than just be a passive participant of the brand message.

Touted as the technology of the future, augmented reality is making its way into the market place as brands continue to realise its potential to engage consumers. In fact a recent report by MarketsandMarkets, the augmented reality market is expected to reach $659.98 million. Another recent study put together by Trigg-AR, estimates that 30% of mobile subscribers having data plans in mature market will use AR at least once a week this year. It further predicts that the market for AR apps is expected to grow by leaps and bounds with revenues touching to a figure of £3.2 billion by 2016, from a mere £112.75 million currently, with a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 95.35%. Furthermore, the study suggests that 2.5 billion AR apps will have been downloaded by 2017. The figures seem to be startling and the opportunities tremendous. But then what is AR marketing and how can brands leverage the same to create an engage and loyal brand consumer?

Simply put, AR is the integration of digital information with live video and the user’s environment in real time. AR recognises a visual picture or film, blends new information, and displays the virtual result. Imagine a situation. What if a chain of restaurants could use AR smartphone app to determine a consumer location and then incorporate graphic vision with powerful processors to provide directions
to a local restaurant or recommend other cafes? Exciting, isn’t it? In fact, at the moment, there are tons of apps featuring augmented reality, available for everything from gaming to driving to furniture arrangement!

One of the brands that has successfully utilised augmented reality marketing is Maybelline. Maybelline created a ‘ColorShow’ app to help millennials experiment with nail polish colours. A cross between a game and shopping, the app helps customers to get creative before they buy. The app puts Maybelline square in the middle of the creativity and personal style of their millennial audience. Auto dealers such as Audi, BMW and Mercedes have been experimenting with the virtual showroom concept since 2012, with features such as interactive car configurators and gesture controls paired with the ability to cars in multiple driving settings are change the high-end automotive shopping experience in exciting new ways! Even in the travel sector, companies such as TripAdvisor have launched augmented reality app that allows customers around the globe to instantly access an immersive view of hotels, restaurants, and attractions listed on TripAdvisor. Jewellery brands such as De Beers now offer a smartphone app that lets users try jewellery virtually.

From a consumer perspective, this empowers them to use their smartphones to scan quick response (QR) codes to read information about the product, on what it does, how other customers have reviewed it, how prices compare with the competition. More importantly, they can come in well informed about the range of products they can buy, leading to more purchases and better satisfaction. It also empowers them with a know-how, giving them a close to the ‘real experience’.

From a brand perspective, it stands to change the very fabric of digital marketing. Marketers need to understand these emerging technologies and adapt their strategy accordingly. We have been hearing about wearable technology and the possibilities of super connected devices. As these technologies become a reality, brands will have to evolve their consumer outreach and engagement strategy.

All in all, mobile marketing has already come quite far in just the past few years, but the fact remains that there is much more that can still be done. With almost every electronic device available being built to connect to the internet, smartphones and other gadgets alike will bring marketers and users together to create experiences, influence purchases and make life a little easier.

Ad-dendum By Amar Thomas

The author is country marketing manager, BlackBerry India

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