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Pokemon Go and Snapchat introduced the masses to the concept of augmented reality (AR) technology — in which users hold their phone up as a lens and view an augmented reality — but in the past year, marketers have begun to take what was essentially a novelty and spin it into major marketing campaign success.
Though marketers have been experimenting with AR for a while, recent technological advancements have resulted in marketing campaigns that incorporate AR in truly revolutionary ways that make a big impression on consumers. Recent stand-out campaigns that incorporate AR have been “fueled by advancements in things like facial recognition and computer vision in general and that technology becoming more precise,” explained Jeff Danley, channel director of mobility at VML to Adweek. Danley added that he sees these technologies soon becoming as common as the flashlight on your phone.
We’ve gathered a few of our favorite recent AR marketing campaigns to offer up as inspiration and guidance:
What marketers can take away: Makeup and hair styling products can be tricky to purchase online, especially if the product is new to a consumer. L’Oréal’s genius is in bringing the makeup counter experience right to the palm of consumers’ hands with the aid of AR — the move boosts consumer confidence by allowing them a purchase preview, which can, in turn, boost actual sales.
This summer Acura executed a truly unique experience: four social media influencers drove a car on a racetrack in California while wearing AR helmets with graphics that made it look as though they were driving through a jungle and a snowstorm. The campaign found major social success, as Adweek reports: 500,000 people tuned in to the hour-long livestream on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, and a total of 3.58 million people watched video of the campaign after it ended.
What marketers can take away: Digital marketers can use AR to get customers excited about their products in new and unexpected ways.
What does a beverage giant and an organization for the protection of wildlife have in common? Polar bears, of course. The two companies collaborated recently to bring the plight of polar bears home for everyday British citizens. They set up an AR experience at the London Science Museum in which visitors got up close and personal with a virtual polar bear family in order to foster an emotional connection and raise awareness about disappearing Arctic sea ice. The AR experience was coupled with a 3D documentary and had experts on-hand to answer questions and provide more insight. The campaign was such a success that Coca-Cola is considering expanding the experience to other UK cities, writes Lexis Agency.
What marketers can take away: Digital marketers in all industries understand that building an emotional connection with potential customers is crucial if they hope to make a sale and foster lasting brand loyalty. AR can bring the faraway near and offer customers emotional insights they might never experience otherwise.
In Paris, Nike recently unveiled an AR device called NIKEiD that allows customers to test out sneaker colors in real time — virtually. Lots of companies have features like this one online — test out a paint color on a photo of your wall, etc. — but Nike allows customers to take an actual (all-white) sneaker and view the color projections of their choice in person.
What marketers can take away: NikeiD uses AR in a fun and interactive way, but it also allows customers to accurately visualize a potential purchase in real time, something that can help move them down the path to purchase.
What’s next for AR in the coming months? VML’s Danley predicts that AR marketing campaigns will begin to move beyond phones: “You’ll really start to see branded retail experiences — physical spaces that become augmented with digital signage or experiences,” he told Adweek.