By Vivek Sharma
Marketers need to sift through a lot of tech hype. But here are three reasons why AR, more than other trends, is well-positioned to be the next big thing for digital marketing.
Consumers increasingly crave interactive, personalized visual experiences. Personalized content is now digital marketing table stakes. In this Instagram era, visual experiences are what compel consumers to act, and in many cases, commerce is more of a byproduct of the experience. However, consumers today also want more interactive and immersive experiences — ones where they can easily participate and share those experiences versus just passively consume. With AR, brands can provide experiences that are both visual and interactive.
AR can be made easy to consume and share. One of the benefits AR has for marketers over other technologies is that it’s easy for people to consume in a bite-sized way through universal technology like smartphones.
Smartphones are much more ubiquitous and accessible to consumers today than tech like virtual reality goggles or IoT-enabled wearables. NYTimes tech reporter Brian Chen cited VR as still being overhyped. The Verge graded VR/AR a “C,” citing hardware readiness, but there are huge opportunities to leverage basic mobile devices for AR digital marketing experiences without getting overly complex with hardware/software.
In a world where technology ironically often makes us feel more disconnected, AR allows consumers to interact with the real world and easily share those experiences, while VR takes people completely out of the “real” world. AR also allows consumers to interact with and create the experience for themselves instead of being fed the experience. It often brings their own body/face into the picture — something that marketers can leverage in this age of selfies.
AR can be made easy for marketers to weave into campaigns. Marketers can integrate small bits of AR into digital campaigns without having to employ armies of coders and engineers, or develop special mobile apps that consumers need to download.
AR can enable marketers to design experiences that touch on what consumers say they want today, including visual, highly personalized experiences, the ability to interact with the experience, and content that is more about the experience than the product/sales pitch. It also doesn’t require consumers to buy extra devices or equipment or completely leave reality.
That said, there are challenges that AR must overcome. It must be increasingly democratized for more mass use and widespread adoption by brand marketers. Big tech companies like Apple, Amazon, Facebook and others are experimenting and investing in AR. For marketers to easily adopt AR, it must break free from walled gardens and allow marketers to create unique experiences that don’t rely on any single tech company.
Things are well aligned for AR to transform digital marketing. Its potential is limited only by tech enablement and a creative imagination.