Alice’s Rabbit Hole: The Future of Augmented Reality in Marketing
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Alice’s Rabbit Hole: The Future of Augmented Reality in Marketing

Alice’s Rabbit Hole: The Future of Augmented Reality in Marketing

Amin Amin

Augmented reality (AR) is the future of marketing, the revolutionary instrument that is becoming more prominent in the strategies of many brands. AR adds an extra layer to user experience, blurring the lines between reality and art. Playing an important role in modern marketing strategies, augmented reality sets up the future and helps the consumer by providing an easily accessible digital information platform where the brand communicates a targeted message, allowing the purchase decision to become easier.
The technology itself is accessed through handheld devices and doesn’t require any additional equipment. Suspended through a camera lens, augmented reality applications provide brands with the opportunity to project an encoded image, text, or sound that allows the user to experience ownership of the product before buying it. From virtual property tours to social commentary pieces, AR becomes more meaningful as society trends more towards “socially aware” spaces, functioning for both B2B and B2C brands. Think eating a cupcake in front of a forever-blossoming mural.

RTFKT Studios test real-time AR, A new stage is set for marketing in the fasion industry. Source: Vogue Business.


Augmented Spaces

This immersive reality experience by RTFKT Studios compounds augmented reality art, retail and social experiences to bring brand, customer, and artist together as they intertwine their functions: the artist is enabled to access customers anywhere, the customer complements the artwork through their own backdrop imposition, and the brand communicates precise information to the customer. In facilitating a discussion between brand and customer, AR can be invaluable – Unicharm’s Sofy campaign added a scannable code to “Pocket Magic” sanitary pads that allowed customers to send selfies with overlaid animated characters via chat. The project itself is aimed at young women and wants to make conversations and connection as accessible as “Pocket Magic”. AR offered a way to translate this into reality, planting the seed of reciprocal camaraderie between women in China. In this effort, Unicharm mentions reportedly jumped 21 percent to 5.74 million. Evidently, the uses of augmented reality for the future of marketing are profound and plentiful; marketing is in constant evolution and businesses agree it’s in their best interest to merge into one lane.

Dinosaurs at the mall! National Geographic Society X INDIE, augmented reality installation. The future of Marketing.

As the millennial generation increasingly takes hold of the consumer market, brands are addressing a community that grew up with rapidly evolving technology and endless information. This spontaneous generation requires immediate digital fulfillment – and with market trends rapidly changing, keeping up with their demands can be quite a challenge for conventional marketing. As they seek to share content with their friends, feel good and stay relevant, AR can be the solution for the future of marketing, while also filling the gap as a tool for self-education. It’s a reinvention of the art medium, with the artist proposing a specific location to create an interactive display. Major brands have used this technology to garner attention: Netflix promoted season 2 of its hit series Stranger Things with an immersive experience. Users could project themselves walking through a popular house from the show and see Demigorgons jumping out of the wall, leaving them feeling as helpless as character Dustin seems to be. 
The cast of Stranger Things envisioned through AR Stickers for Google Pixel.


Does AR have a purpose?

AR is the marker of a new age in digital marketing. The fly-on-the-wall turned Incredible Hulk is demanding that consumers shift their attention to their devices. The question that consumers have in return – “Is there any real value?” Well, the future of augmented reality in marketing depends on brands using it to establish trust with their consumer base and thus gaining authenticity. An AR campaign with single use functionality is simply not enough to garner the traffic that is required to build rapport with a target community. Brands are focusing more on long-term scalability of AR campaigns, and as they work to find the future of augmented reality in their marketing campaigns, they are succeeding in pulling endless cloth from the clown's sleeve.  
In maintaining rapport, social media giants Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat are powerful industry leaders for the future of augmented reality in marketing, using their platforms as popular destinations for brands to employ games, filters, and promotions as effective strategies to seduce consumers' senses. A clear defining principle is that social media is used on average 151 minutes per day, illustrating the potential to cement AR’s place in the future of marketing and e-commerce industries, as it too is only a fingertip away. The constant participation of each user is beneficial to the brand as their product becomes highly shareable on social media platforms, aligning with specific interests and trends.  
The future of augmented reality in marketing concurs with the evolution of our digital lives. It has always been a motif in sci-fi that humans will one day “step through the screen into a new world” and now our collective imagination is coming to life. More than a tool to drive sales, brands and institutions who are facilitating immersive experiences can also educate their base on a variety of different subjects. Take the SkyView app, the campaign has taken a geo-localized approach to marketing and put itself in a unique position to teach students about the sky, stars and even satellites above them.
SkyView, an interactive Augmented Reality app that allows you to learn more about the stars or constellations in the sky by observing the sky directly.

Looking ahead

People remember brands they have had a positive experience with; they want to return in search of that feeling. They look to define their personality and stay relevant within the brand’s identity. Here, AR is the middle man that can be implemented to evoke these feelings or memories, like your favorite movie or video game. Augmented reality is in popular demand as its future in marketing remains secure with a reported 5.5 billion app downloads predicted for 2022, a significant increase from the 1.1 billion usership figure of 2016. The fashion industry in particular is looking towards a new standard of fashion – one that moves exclusivity into AR. The shoes you wear may not be real but that’s the point: people are drawn towards an intersection between fashion produced by augmented reality and emerging trends that allow consumers to shapeshift into the clothing that embodies their self-expression. Gucci uses AR to set up a marketing campaign centered on the feeling of exclusivity, while engaging with its +6.5 million followers on Twitter via the Gucci Sneaker Garage campaign.
Gucci’s “Sneaker Garage” Twitter AR marketing campaign.

More and more, companies are looking to establish permanent platforms that are comprised of augmented reality immersions. The evidence is evermore present, and the practical uses of AR have surged as the technology continues to improve. The future is bright for augmented reality as the market reports an expected increase to 198 billion dollars in 2025 from 3.5 billion dollars in 2017.   
Augmented reality marketing is demanding a revision of its previous incarnations, overcoming the shortcomings of conventional marketing and adapting to changes in society. The evolution comes as a result of the attempt by augmented reality to define itself and its future in marketing. 

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