Remember a couple of summers ago when Pokémon Go was all the rage? The hype quickly fizzled out even though Niantic, the software development company responsible for the technology behind Pokémon Go and other mobile AR games, was on to something. Not sure what AR or VR mean to the future of marketing or what these emerging technologies actually are? Not a problem. We’ll go over AR and VR, their pros and cons, and how one, and not the other will have the most impact on marketing campaigns for the foreseeable future.
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Augmented Reality (AR)
When virtual objects are placed into the “real world” such as Pokémon Go, a game that utilizes a smartphone’s GPS and camera to place cartoon characters near actual, physical locations, on a virtual map that users can got, or Snapchat filters that add animal face emojis to selfies taken by a user with a smartphone, you get what is referred to as augmented reality or AR for short. AR enhances or alters the physical world around us, and not just with smartphones. There are other means of utilizing AR, such as car windshields that display road layouts, navigation directions, and even a speedometer. In fact, BMW currently has AR technology on their 3 and 6 series vehicles.
Virtual Reality (VR)
Oftentimes, AR and virtual reality are mistaken for one another. Yes, they both alter our physical world in some shape or form, but VR takes it a step further, and immerses the user into a completely virtual setting. VR takes us to another place and cuts us off from reality, using virtual reality headsets, such as goggles or sealed off visors for watching short films or gaming with a controller that tracks hand movement for manipulating virtual objects. Notable manufacturers of VR technology are Oculus Rift, Samsung Odyssey, and HTC Vive. Higher end models like the Oculus Rift or PlayStation VR, operate from PCs and gaming consoles respectively. These models range in price from $399 up to $800 and even higher. They include features such as 90Hz refresh rates and over 200 million pixels per second. There are more economical choices for VR headsets that pair with smartphones as well. Samsung Gear VR, a much-improved version with more room for people who wear glasses, offers a set for around $80, and Google Cardboard, which sells for $15, offers an even less expensive alternative.
How AR and VR Tie into Marketing
In 2017, HubSpot released a report known as State of Inbound, which tracks marketing trends and data, and stated that video is the number one channel for content delivery. So how do AR and VR fit into all of this? Just look at what French based beauty and makeup supplier, Sephora, is doing with AR right now. The company has a virtual make-up artist app available, that lets users see how a certain lipstick will look, without having to physically apply it. The app scans the user’s face through a smartphone camera, and once the user finds a product they like, they can instantly click to purchase. Ikea also has a “try before you buy” concept with an app that uses AR integrated with 360-degree videos. Take a picture of a room with your smartphone, and the app will place any piece of furniture that the user selects into the frame of the room. This gives the user an idea of how a piece of furniture will look in a room or if it will fit in a tight spot.
VR also has great potential in marketing, mainly in the tourism and real estate industry. Brochures or other print ads an only do so much to capture an audience's attention, and online ads must deal with the ever-increasing use of ad blockers on web browsers. But VR takes users to another place that is free of distractions, and since it’s only recently been made widely available to the public, it has a novelty feel, and does not make users feel they are being force fed advertisements. VR, just like AR, can also take the hassle out of physically shopping around for the right product. Matterport, a real-estate firm based in the U.S., offers 3D virtual tours, so potential buyers don’t have to see the home at the actual location. The home-improvement industry has also begun to incorporate VR technologies in marketing. Lowe’s offers Holoroom, a home improvement design and training tool that allows customers to try out do-it-yourself projects in a virtual space. Not only does this make customers feel confident in buying the right products, but a person using Holoroom is more likely to retain the information compared to watching a conventional video.
We’ve gone over some examples of how AR and VR can be successfully implemented into marketing campaigns, but AR looks to be the clear winner for the near future. Why? Well, it’s more cost effective, and the foundation is already there. Smartphones are everywhere now, and that’s all that’s needed for AR to work in most cases. Going back to the Sephora virtual makeup app, there is a clear call-to-action, where the consumer can click on a product right away, and make the purchase. VR has the advantage over other forms of advertising because there is more interaction from the user, but there isn’t a way to get that user to pause from that interaction, and respond to a call-to-action like clicking or making a purchase. Also, VR headsets (not including the cheaper alternatives for smartphone use) are still very expensive.
Both AR and VR show a lot of promise for the future, but it’s evident that AR will have the most impact sooner. Many of today’s smartphone cameras have the capability, which means AR technology will have an immediate impact versus VR. Right now, VR headsets are too costly and may limit the user’s mobility to a confined space. With AR technology, people can be directed to nearby brick and mortar locations or easily be directed to click on something and make a purchase. This is something that is currently not easily done with VR, where the user can be totally distracted by the actual experience itself.
Have ideas for how you can use this technology to reach your customers? Let us know and we can help launch your brand in to the future!
CATMEDIA is an award-winning Inc. 500 company based in Atlanta, Georgia. Founded in 1997, the company specializes in advertising, creative services, media production, program management, training, and human resource management. As a Women Owned Small Business (WOSB), CATMEDIA provides world-class customer service and innovative solutions to government and commercial clients. Current CATMEDIA clients include Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
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