The Benefits of Augmented Reality in Mobile Marketing

This is a guest post from James Bentham on behalf of Mobile Interactive Group, who specialise in mobile marketing and other digital communications services.

Augmented reality, while still in its infancy, is still quite relevant to the future trajectory of mobile marketing. The opportunities presented by AR are plentiful; a new report from Juniper Research indicates that AR technology will generate $2 million in 2012, but will jump to as much as $714 million annually by 2014. Augmented reality mobile marketing revenue will largely be driven by subscription-based services, advertising and AR-based app downloads.

Where AR Will Be Most Relevant

Many analysts predict that augmented reality will be most commonly used with games, indicating that a major growth niche for the AR mobile marketing segment will be through the development of “games” designed to help advertise products. Location-based AR will also be a major driver of augmented reality growth, making AR-based ad networks attractive to locally-based brands or brands seeking to present themselves as local.

How AR Will Be Used by Mobile Customers

“Smart” mobile devices will be more widely adopted by customers along all segments, and new technologies will emerge among Android and Apple smartphones and tablets that will allow individuals to use them as augmented reality devices. We are already beginning to see this development, as digital compasses and accelerometers spread through the market. As smartphones improve their functionality, AR inches closer and closer to widespread adoption.

Examples of Augmented Reality in Mobile Marketing

2012 VW Beetle

Volkswagon utilized augmented reality to target a consumer segment that valued high-performance capabilities. The German auto manufacturer placed AR-interfaced billboards around Toronto and Vancouver, allowing anyone with an iPhone or iPad tablet to view virtual Beetles performing high-flying stunts high above the busy downtown streets. The stunts were reminiscent of X Games performances, and the public locations gave the ads a sense of excitement. As one of the most exciting AR mobile marketing efforts to date, the campaign’s launch video generated over 100,000 views in just a few weeks, creating a lot of buzz for the company.

Starbucks Augmented Cups

In celebration of the holiday season, and to create generate renewed interest in Starbucks, the coffee shop chain used augmented reality to make images on decorated cups come to life. A free mobile app download, available on both Android and Apple mobile devices, allows consumers to view five different animated shows on five different cups. This promotion was unveiled in Starbucks shops across the country, and it created a lot of excitement in the tech world. It helped to associate Starbucks with feel-good holiday sentiment, and it gave coffee drinkers something fun to do with their smartphones while drinking their beverages.

Moosejaw Sexy Image App

For its 2011 winter catalogue, outerwear retailer Moosejaw utilized AR technology to give viewers “x-ray vision” while looking through the catalogue. Viewers can download an app to see the models, normally wearing heavy winter outerwear, in very little clothing. The Moosejaw AR app also works for digital catalogues and in-store displays, utilizing the old adage that “sex sells” to augment consumers’ reality. This racy campaign is less of a mobile marketing technique and more of an attempt to generate buzz in the tech community for the brand, and it certainly got plenty of people’s attention.

Ultimately, augmented reality tech in 2012 is still mostly used for attention-grabbing stunts in the world of mobile marketing. However, as more people buy smartphones and as the technology becomes more nuanced, many analysts predict that the marketing campaigns will become increasingly sophisticated. Only time will tell what AR will do for mobile marketing, but all predictions are that it will be game-changing.

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