At Facebook’s recent annual developer conference, F8, Chief Executive of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg spoke at length on the untapped promise augmented realities (AR) will bring for the social media giant.
Zuckerberg’s plans included a forthcoming focus that would see cameras as a central in the next step to incorporating AR as a gradual aspect of everyday life for Facebook users.
Whilst Virtual Reality (VR) offers a completely immersive simulated environment, and made progressive leaps and bounds in recent years, AR is the less spoken of the two tech initiatives. But with time, AR technology is also becoming increasingly prominent.
The social media app ’ Snapchat’ is an immediately familiar case of game-changers currently capitalising on AR, by using a range of visual camera filters, now adding 3-D world lenses that place virtual objects into real world video recordings. The trend more generally is driven by intentions to elevate and transform the mundane aspects of everyday life through personalising photos and videos in ways previously not thought possible.
As a semi-immersive experience enabled by dropping graphics or 3-D objects as a supplement to everyday life, AR at first glance may appear seemingly unrelated to strategising effective marketing approaches, but may be connected to business more than you’d initially think.
Throughout his keynote, Zuckerberg talked with a focus on the role AR can play in providing solutions to strengthen connections between communities. Irrespective of your intended market, AR is an area that has a place in all business strategies, and can transform your outlook on understanding the role personalisation and communities have in new business approaches.
So, what are the tangible benefits you can hope to see from AR, and how is it transforming the way e-commerce and marketing practices exist at present?
1. AR ensures a competitive edge.
Taking risks with new technology, if executed well, offers a range of positives. Integrating AR not only will make your marketing collateral more visually enticing, but also communicate you care about making your product is accessible in the most engaging way technology currently allows. The element of surprise will also enable you to stand out from the crowd against your competitors playing it on the safe side.
2. VR can be pricey, AR is the way to go.
According to the Digi-Capital fundamental ‘Augmented/ Virtual reality report, the AR/ VR market hopes to expand to $150 billion by 2020. Whilst Oculus’ VR headset has become more affordable in recent years, it still currently sells for about $1100 AUD and requires other expensive technology to work. AR, meanwhile remains the more accessible option of the two, for developers and consumers alike, and as these kinds of technologies become increasingly democratised, we can only expect to see more from AR in years to come.
3. AR is changing e-commerce and the nature of product engagement.
Given the rise of e-commerce and online shopping trends, showcasing products utilising AR can make online retail even easier, whilst providing a more complete experience for shoppers. It also gives power to the consumer to engage with products in the ways they want, taking out the guesswork for you when developing strategies.
Some businesses currently using AR include the likes of brands such as leading Swedish home and furniture retailer Ikea and popular toy brand Lego, who are taking advantage of AR and embracing AR technology as part of the solution.
Ikea has made calculating measurements easier by developing virtual furniture which based on the size of the physical, real-world IKEA catalogue items.
Lego have been using augmented reality technologies in their stores. Offering virtual animated representations demonstrating what a finished Lego kit would look like before purchasing it, the direction has been met with great praise.
So, what are you waiting for?
Although at first glance AR might seem daunting, and does have a way to go, integrating AR into marketing practices, or beginning to think about where AR could fit into your business is worth bearing in mind.
When it comes to connecting AR with the online realm, Gareth Price, technical director for Ready, Set Rocket says that “AR brings the internet from being contained on a screen to becoming part of the fabric of the world around us, which will benefit businesses with a physical presence.”
AR’s power for businesses might be less then to do with concerns of visual gimmicks, but rather, might be offering a message of understanding how consumers interact with products, and provide new directions on the new and inventive possibilities the future of virtual commerce might hold, irrespective of the consumer market or advertised product.
So, take the leap by thinking about the possibilities AR could provide to you, and even potentially provide you access to new potential markets!
By Amelia Navascues