Virtual Reality (VR) is a technology that is very familiar to a certain group of users, namely, gamers. In their gaming environment, they don’t mind wearing VR glasses that completely isolate them from the outside world. In a VR gaming session, the gamer is immersed 100% in a virtual environment. He no longer perceives the real world around him while he is playing. In contrast to VR, Augmented Reality (AR) is “merely” a computer-supported extension of the perception of reality. AR is much closer to the real world than VR and can be used in many ways in mobile marketing.
If on a scale, the real world represented one end and the virtual one the other end, AR would be at most 25% away from the real world. This would lead us to the theory that we live in a reality-virtuality-continuum with different degrees of reality perception. With the help of digital technology, the perception of the real world can be digitally extended step by step. This even works without special devices like AR glasses à la Google Glass & Co.
Digital devices have revolutionised everyday life for most people. Whether they communicate, shop or pay, digital devices have become indispensable. Devices such as smartphones increasingly control how we perceive the world. Users get information on the spot and find out who or what is in their immediate vicinity via their digital device. Algorithms analyse user behaviour and ensure that users reach the information that may be of interest to them at the right time and place. Digital marketing covers all these needs. So why do we need augmented reality? Quite simply. When a customer goes shopping in the real world, he or she is in close contact with the item of his or her choice and can grasp it with their senses. Unfortunately, this is not possible in a two-dimensional digital world.
Nowhere is this more evident than in clothing. In the shop, the customer can try on a piece of clothing. In the online shop, he has to rely on the accuracy of fit of standardised sizes and illustrations in 2D. Apart from that, how does the garment or other accessory actually look in reality? More and more manufacturers and suppliers have discovered the AR theme as a driver for their mobile marketing campaigns. Below is a small selection of ideas:
As mentioned above, no special equipment is required for the implementation of AR. The digital mobile device, smartphone, is sufficient to make AR an experience. All that the user ultimately needs is a suitable app that is tailored to the intended use. IKEA provides an example of how this works. Here, users can use the AR app to place pieces of furniture in the space provided and combine them as they wish. In this way, users can get an impression of what the room will look like after furnishing.
The retailer OTTO has a similar approach with its AR app “yourhome”. This also allows customers to integrated furniture and home accessories into the home environment using digital means. The app helps the customer to check proportions and try out different setting options. The app helps the customer to make a decision and thus promotes the desire to buy. A similar application is now available from Amazon with the “AR View Home App”.
A tiresome subject. A customer discovers an item of clothing online and would like to try it out immediately in order to make a purchase decision. But how can the customer find out how the garment looks on him? The fashion group GUCCI has come up with something special for its ACE sneaker collection. The GUCCI app has a built-in AR function that allows customers to check how different styles in the shoe collection look on their feet. All they have to do is start the feature and point the smartphone camera at their feet. By moving their feet, users can view the shoe styles from different angles. By integrating the function into Snapchat, a digitally affine target group can additionally be reached.
Every online retailer is pleaser when he can reduce his return rate. AR can make a crucial contribution to this. The sports goods manufacturer, Nike, demonstrates how this is possible. Its AR function measures the user’s feet and suggests the correct shoe size. Finding the correct size is not only an important issue with clothing but also when sending a parcel. Logistics giant DHL has recognised this and offers a corresponding AR function within its Packset app. This enables DHL to determine the correct parcel size for the desired goods. The customer can then book the shipping stamp directly and then complete the order at a post office.
Last year, the Burger King burger group launched a marketing campaign in Brazil using AR. Customers were able to use an app to virtually torch the competition – meaning rival McDonalds. All they had to do was point their front camera at a competitor’s logo and the campaign went “virtually” up in flames. The reward was a voucher code which the customer could exchange for a free Whopper Burger at a Burger King branch of his choice. The occasion for the campaign was of a more peaceful nature. The aim was to make Burger King’s new smartphone payment method known locally.
What is good for the GUCCI shoe collection is good for other brands. This refers to the wide field of try-ons, which includes not only clothing but also cosmetics. Users who want to try out a new style are just as grateful for this opportunity. Whether it’s a new hair colour or make-up – if users have the opportunity to try it out virtually beforehand, they are additionally motivated. The cosmetics group L’Oreal consistently relies on such virtual try-ons to increase brand loyalty and create new buying incentives. For this purpose, the French cosmetics giant has brought AI specialist ModiFace on board in 2018.
Obviously, Google is also part of the game when it comes to the use of new digital features. Since 2019, the search engine giant has been working intensively on the implementation of AR on search result pages (SERPs). Google already presented the first use cases for mobile marketing. Smartphone users, for example, can view the SUV model in 3D from all sides when searching for the “XT6” from Cadillac. In fact, they can view it directly in front of their own garage entrance. Manufacturers who want to use the feature must upload 3D models of their products and add a corresponding code snippet. But beware: AR does not bring any advantage in positioning in the search results. This is determined by the Google algorithm and depends on the quality and uniqueness of the content.
Given the globally raging corona pandemic, the desire to travel may be rather subdued at the moment. Nevertheless, travelling is an ideal use case for AR features. Lufthansa had also recognised this and (before the pandemic) used the AR function in the App Shazam. For his or her virtual travel experience, the user does not need to download an additional app, but simply click on an ad in the app. They can then walk through a virtual gate and reach a virtual viewing platform in the middle of a popular travel destination. Whether New York or Rome – the user can enjoy a 360-degree view of the destination from his viewing platform.
Retouching digital photos is widespread in social media marketing. How else could influencers professionally present themselves and their favourite products to an audience of millions of people with such little time expenditure? AR filters play a central role in photo retouching in mobile marketing because they enable the user to visually highlight people and things. And all this without the need for professional image editing tools like Photoshop. With Snapchat and Facebook, this is easy to do because they have integrated AR filters that allow quick editing of digital photo material. This allows you to create surprising effects in no time at all and present selfies and products in an even more professional way. With Spark AR, the user can develop his AR filters as he likes.
Custom AR filters are not only great for retouching photos, but also for creating branded content. How this works is demonstrated by Instagram, who recently partnered with Spark AR. Users can now create their own branded content with filters. Filters allow images or words to be superimposed on the camera view and create attention for a brand. Best of all, Instagram users can use the filters created by others for their productions. Because the name appears in the top left corner of the image when the filter is used, the creator of the filter automatically benefits from viral effects.
The fashion company Prada has developed a completely different kind of AR filters for its fans. This is a story filter that creates an acronym from letters of the brand “Prada”. Numerous acronym sets are shown on a white sign. At some point, the process stops and shows random words from the video story. This is particularly exciting because the filter user does not know beforehand what the sign will show in each case. With the AR feature for mobile marketing campaigns, every video story can be made even more interesting and highlighted from the standard mash through augmented reality.
Digital technologies constantly present marketing with new challenges. This is especially true for mobile marketing, as smartphones and other mobile devices now play a key role in spreading brand messages. AR enables manufacturers to virtually expand customers’ perception of reality without losing touch with the real world. Unlike the virtual reality of video games, AR keeps the human at the centre of attention. The person is not absorbed by a fantasy environment. Therefore, AR is the first choice as a method to increase the reach of mobile marketing.