Growth in AR and its Potential for Augmenting Print

Augmented reality is coming into its own. With virtual “try it before you buy it” apps and immersive games, consumers are becoming increasingly comfortable interacting within the virtual world. They may not even realize they are using AR. They are simply interacting with their phones.  This creates additional opportunities to engage consumers through print than ever before.

According to DigiCapital, revenue from augmented and virtual reality is forecast to grow from less than $5 billion in 2016 to more than $15 billion in 2017. The growth trajectory is astronomical, reaching $120 billion in 2020.[1]  While it’s not showing up on every retail shelf or direct mail piece yet, it’s growing rapidly. Marketers need to get ready.

Augmented reality differs from QR Codes in that it provides a comprehensive experience. QR Codes are pathways to mobile content. Like clicking on a hyperlink in an email, you scan a code to be taken to a mobile page, where the user can shop, access product specs, or watch promotional videos.

Augmented reality is a comprehensive experience that occurs within a mobile app, not a web browser, and places the viewer inside the virtual world.  By overlaying the virtual world onto the real world through the phone’s camera, users can interact with print in various ways . Ray Ban, for example, lets you “try on” sunglasses via AR simply by clicking on different pairs of glasses and viewing them on your face in the camera, and IKEA lets you “place” new furniture in your home before you buy. L’Oreal is taking a similar approach to allow women to “try on” make-up before purchasing using its AR app, Make-up Genius.

To date, much of what has been created using augmented reality has been experimental. The technology and  the developers’ understanding of its impact to marketing campaigns is growing by leaps and bounds. Increasingly, it is being used to solve real-world business problems, such as enabling the developers and architectural customers to “walk around” inside a yet-to-be-completed building to get feedback on the design or give tours before potential renters sign a lease. AR is being used for training, as well, allowing trainees to see and experience environments without actually being there.

From a marketing perspective, AR is the next frontier. Brands are adding augmented reality to print pieces such as direct mail, packaging, and in-store displays to provide experiences that create brand engagement and move consumers toward a sale.  Consumers can point their phones toward a toy catalog, for example, and watch a toy in action. If they like it, they can make a purchase right within the app. Consumers can use AR to do comparison shopping inside the store, watch customers give testimonials from product packaging, or access coupons.  All of this occurs within the app, giving users a seamless experience that gives marketers detailed tracking.

To see how you can incorporate augmented reality into your next marketing campaign. Contact EarthColor today!


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