Augmented reality, AR for short, is an enhanced version of the real physical world achieved through the use of digital elements via technology. AR superimposes these digital elements over a real-world environment, providing the user with a unique experience. This piece of technology is truly revolutionary: a stepping-stone to the future.
Augmented reality vs. virtual reality
AR is sometimes confused with virtual reality or VR, and you may see the term used interchangeably, but virtual reality differs from augmented reality in a number of ways. Virtual reality moves augmented reality to another level; it takes the components seen in augmented reality and produces an entirely computer-generated simulation of an alternate world. While virtual reality is a fully digitally constructed virtual or online world, augmented reality, in a nutshell, does what its name describes: it “augments” or “adds to” reality.
The rise of AR
Augmented reality has been tried and tested by millions – most likely by you too. Remember the incredibly popular Pokemon Go mobile game released in 2016? Augmented reality. Using only a smartphone, the player simply points and shoots at their surroundings, attempting to find hidden Pokemon characters. The game is still a sensation with millions of users actively playing to this day.
To throw in some numbers, the augmented reality industry is growing at a steady pace. It was reported to be valued at $38.5 billion in 2022 and is expected to expand at an annual growth rate of 43.8% between 2021 and 2028. Augmented reality is being used in a variety of businesses from gaming to manufacturing, but let’s discuss how augmented reality is used in marketing. There are many innovative ways augmented reality is used in marketing today, and it’s exciting to examine what the future might hold for this computer-generated interactive experience.
More practically, you can find the technology revolutionizing the retail sector by creating virtual fitting rooms, where shoppers can not only try on clothes but also test beauty products and glasses. Virtual fitting rooms have been a major hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as they allow customers to try on items without physically touching them, avoiding any interaction with the changing room employee and reducing everyone’s risk of exposure to the virus. This combination of real and virtual elements also adds excitement and provides the customer with a unique shopping experience.
Another cool way augmented reality has been used in shopping is by the paint specialist Dulux. Using an app, you can easily try out different shades by simply pointing to the wall you’re considering painting and choosing one of their iconic colours. Voila, the power of augmented reality transforms your wall into any colour you want, saving a hefty amount of time and effort!
Out-of-home advertising, augmented
What about combining traditional marketing methods with augmented reality? Out-of-home advertising is getting a makeover. Brands have started adding digital elements onto previously stagnant billboards, providing curious passers-by with an interactive experience while simultaneously marketing their brand. One cutting-edge example is Burger King’s “Burn That Ad” AR campaign that sees the fast-food chain poke fun at their competitors by encouraging users to digitally burn their ads. The campaign also has a payment feature where the user can buy a Whopper and collect it in any Burger King restaurant.
How is augmented reality used in marketing events?
Augmented reality can completely change the way people attend events. Marketers should consider this when planning their next branded event, as incorporating augmented reality into the mix is guaranteed to get people talking about your brand. Augmented reality adds layers to your event, literally. Want to showcase new furniture designs but there’s limited space at the event to exhibit them all? Have iPads handy to let attendees digitally “place” the furniture into the real space. This also works from home, allowing people to test out furniture without all of the heavy labour involved. Notable Swedish furniture company IKEA did just that and it was a huge hit with customers.
Virtual events, virtual audiences
With worldwide restrictions on travel, attending an event is not as simple as before. Virtual conferences and business events are already becoming a thing, with attendees transformed into virtual avatars who are teleported into a digital world that emulates a real-life conference room. Presenting in front of an audience has never been more exciting. Holding virtual events also eliminates costs usually spent on food and beverages, security, and other logistics. Instead, these savings can be used to create the digital conference spaces, as augmented reality is still a new and relatively expensive technology, though it is bound to reduce in cost as it develops over time.
The future of augmented reality in marketing
The future of augmented reality is prosperous. It is already prompting a shift in how retailers conduct business and, as the technology advances, it will become more affordable and easier to incorporate into marketing strategies. At the present moment, there are numerous ways for businesses to use this technology without breaking the bank. The creative opportunities are endless.
Generation Alpha, the newest generation of consumers, is the first group who will be fully immersed in technology their entire lives. This generation is reported to be impatient as they’ll be used to technology fulfilling their desires from an early age, so integrating augmented reality into advertising is the clear way to go if you want to catch the attention of these young tech-savvy consumers. How is augmented reality used in marketing, you ask? The options are endless and this is just the beginning.
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