Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Augmented Reality: The Future of Advertising?

What does a combination of computer interactivity, data, social media and the physical world add up to you ask? Well, for some it represents the entire future of advertising. These elements as noted above of course are the key ingredients to the various forms of Augmented Reality (AR) which are taking shape at a rapid pace these days. 

Just the notions of bringing something very static like a magazine, newspaper, poster, or even other physical world elements like buildings, consumer goods and outdoor structures to life has a very exciting appeal.

The biggest offering it allows I feel--and something I tend to harp about a lot within this blog--is the ability of connecting both offline and online media. This type of blending is key to establishing a highly effective connection point between the two realms we all seem to live within these days--namely the digital and physical worlds. Having this allows for the ever shifting and illusive 'top of mind' brand awareness to occur. That of course can then lead on to subtle yet extremely powerful media mixes in which buying decisions are being influenced, promotions realized and true ROI delivered. 

Our tools to 'try' and connect these worlds to date have been comprised of standard traditional media such as television, newspapers, billboards, posters etc. However, as you know these areas are waning in value and effect as they are built on 'push' models rather than the true gold of 'pull'.  As an OOH evangelist, I believe if outdoor is done right it can achieve 'pull' for an advertiser and ultimately make a strong creative connection point. If you throw in a successful AR campaign that pull factor could be massive! 

For perspective, just imagine, you are walking down the street and you have your smart phone out. As you survey the city scape you roll over a McDonalds building and up comes the latest promotions which magically appear in the air above and around the building. After finishing up lunch, you decide to take a stroll through a shopping district as a new pair of Nike's are needed. Once again, you bring up your handy dandy smart phone and enter your search criteria. You then do a 360 degree scan of the buildings nearby. Up pops the latest deals on Nike shoes. Great, you make a decision and enter one shop. Instead of trying on a number of shoes, you decide to grant that privilege to only a few styles. The weeding out process is all about projection mapping 10 or 20 different styles onto your foot. The top 3 are awarded the 'try on'. 

I am sure you get the point. These concepts while already available and possible in some respects are not far off in others. AR offers that unique blend of two distinct and separate universes. It is not hard to recognize the inherent value these technologies could offer with a little more streamlining and penetration. 

Lastly, if you are considering AR I have compiled some very basic tips that should be thought through before any project planning begins:

1. Make it easy to use
*There is no point making it overly complex and incomprehensible. Users will not go for it nor will others be able to endorse it if you need a manual to figure it out

2. Make sure it solves a problem
*Making an AR app for the sake of is not the way to move forward. Do some research and make sure there is a true need and problem 

3. Promote it with other innovative media
*Place the AR on platforms that unto themselves allow for specific targeting and buzz 
(see something like 'Parking Stripe Media' as an idea) 

4. Make it a utility
*Find a way to fit this into a persons life/routine and you have hit the AR jackpot! 

5. Support it
*Do not put this out for a 3 month run and judge. Build media mixes around it, nurture it and give the  investment of not only funds but time to see its worth develop

Have a look at some of these interesting AR campaigns already done for ideas. Or better yet, pick your favorite brand and do a Youtube search. Most big brands have started playing with the technology. 

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