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The State of the VR Experience- 3rd in an Hourglass Technologies Series

Part III - AR Exposed

In the previous article in this series I highlighted the five must haves for effective 360o Video elements that every marketer needs to consider when thinking about the execution and user experience. Here are Five Simple 360o Rules:

1. Focus on short-burst session times

2. Film for platform specific experiences

3. Make it Interactive and Actionable

4. Where possible, introduce elements they can never experience in the real world

5. Have a purpose beyond utilizing a shiny new object. If you are just catching up, here are links to the previous pieces:

Next up, I want to discuss Augmented Reality, which when executed right, is the most powerful tool that most brand marketers and retailers are NOT using today. And if they are, we are seeing executions that are un-intentionally poorly executed.

First, this technology is not new, in fact the Hourglass team created our first AR campaign way back in 2013. Of course, the technology and our smartphones, are ever much more powerful today.

Today’s piece is really an open letter to all brands and retailers to take note of this platform. Advertising may drive your consumer to retail, but AR is the way to close the sale when they get to the shelves. And nothing we know of can sway or change the consumer’s perceptions or decisions, as powerfully as AR when used to make purchase decisions at home.

We have been working with everyone from grocery chains and sporting retailers to electronics and our key message is this: If you target Gen Y’s or Millennials, and if your organization does not have an AR action plan for 2018, be prepared to be leap frogged at retail – both online and in-store. Don’t wait to read about in some trade journal. The smart money is pursuing action at the point of sale, so don’t underestimate the level or disruption that AR will create.

Of course, AR is being used beyond just consumer retail. We are working with clients in areas as disparate as real estate, DIY and beauty to harness the power of these technologies. So, let’s learn more…

Part III: Augmented Reality

By definition, Augmented Reality, or AR, is quite simply the use of digital content overlaid on the real world, as seen through your smartphone’s camera.

AR is an incredibly powerful tool that is rarely understood nor yet implemented effectively by brand marketers. Most are missing out on the new “gold rush”.

AR provides brands with enormous advantages…beyond engagement and product selection, as it can help you stand out on cluttered retail shelves or product filled pages. At its best AR engages audiences, helps them discover important product values and, of course, drives a purchase. Tied in with delivering a coupon, selecting the right product, the right shade? Sold.

If you already have an App, you don’t need a NEW one…you can integrate an AR component into your existing app, if your development team is up to speed on the technology and knows anything about user experience. Michael Lapinski, our Chief Technical Strategist, spent over 7 years at the MIT Media Lab working on Human Interaction and over 3 years at Samsung defining their next-gen UX. He knows what he’s doing.

Without this type of team experience you probably shouldn’t experiment and risk alienating your consumer – always go with a team that knows the best practices.

We can even gamify the experience - and if you think that gamification doesn’t make sense for your product or your consumer, think again. There is a reason why 80% of app downloads are social games. Your audience is experiencing gamification every day. Our team is even gamifying the art of charity – yes charity – through an exciting new app, called Passport2Good, which launches in January 2018.

So, from our perspective, you can gamify literally everything. Think of gamification as the manner in which to engage your consumer and get them more immersed with your app and your product.

And NO, gamification doesn’t mean they are playing games. It’s the application of the principals of retention and conversion that we use every day in casual games, applied to your app and your product.

Okay, now let’s look at ways in which you can implement Augmented Reality in different verticals. I’m happy to give away ideas as long as they are put to good use and our fellow marketers are being smart with their strategy and their dollars.

Some brand marketers are so busy trying to gain followers on social media, that many of them have lost site of the real challenge – engaging your audience, driving conversions and growing your revenues. Oh, and if your thing is social…do you realize that all our AR solutions have social and peer-to-peer components? They have to.

We all know that user to user word of mouth and recommendations are some of the most powerful influencers…and it’s the way you chase those review scores in market places like Amazon….so if you want to drive engagement, peer to peer self-marketing and rings at the register, may I highly recommend AR in your marketing mix.

Possible AR applications are almost endless and the industries we are applying AR solutions to and working with clients in, is broad, everything from consumer packaged goods, retail, real estate, trade shows, live events, e-commerce, fashion and beauty – and that’s just the short list!

Retail: Our retail friends should be using AR to engage consumers at the shelves to help with product selection, companion selling and deliver offers to fill that shopping cart. We see some retailers utilizing AR to help find items in a store…but seriously, that is effectively making what is already a destination item easier to find. Guess what, I can ask an assistant – it’s easier. AR is much more than a store map.

If you are selling high involvement items, use it as a means to deliver information and make the purchase decision easier.

We can utilize both geo as well as image recognition cues to deliver alerts to your consumer when they are in your store’s vicinity – can’t let them get away! Retailers are going to get the most out of AR for certain.

At Home: At home, AR can be used to help consumers with DIY projects to cut out the trial and error. AR can literally change out any piece of hardware, floor, wall, appliance in your home and show you what the alternative product will look like. It’s a dream tool, but how many DIY brands and retailers are utilizing it effectively? NONE

Beauty: Beyond what can be done at the retail shelf to assist with color selection, AR can give your brand the competitive edge. Let’s be honest, nowadays product differentiation in the cosmetics arena is getting tougher. To be able to up the ante at retail and at home with App/AR experiences that provide tailored and custom beauty solutions and suggestions for your consumer is invaluable. Yes, I’m being vague because you can’t expect us to give away every little idea we have?

Sporting Goods / Sport Apparel: AR can be utilized as a virtual mirror… Imagine looking down at your shoes and using your phone camera to scan and replace those shoes with other pairs, digitally. Hello – Foot Locker – is anyone out there? The most frustrating component about shopping shoes is the wide selection and the lack of fast and thorough assistance at store level. So how about giving those sneakerheads a fun and interactive way to try new models? You’re selling fun merchandise, how about making the consumer experience fun as well, rather than the frustration is today at retail?

Real Estate: This powerful tool can single handled change the manner in which buyers can experience the walk through of home, delivering pertinent and important information from every room in the house. For example, from a “For Sale” sign we can create smart signs that allow passersby to scan the house – like they had an Xray device, from the street, without ever setting foot in the house.

Toy Industry: If you are engaging with tweens and teens, you HAVE GOT TO HAVE AN AR component to your strategy. You are selling a lifestyle and fun. The best way to sell to your audience is through interactive and compelling experiences that will engage and which have a social component to them. I hope the wheels are spinning.

AR offers tremendous new opportunities and the smart marketers will embrace it quickly to dominate their categories. That’s called vision, and complacency is the nemesis of vision. There is not a consumer category that cannot -and will not - be disrupted and challenged by these technologies. All studies out there show audiences across all demographics are eager to embrace AR. Everyone you market to has a smartphone. This bodes the question…is your brand ready? Or are you going to let complacency drive your brand strategy, and get left behind?

Next up: The State of the VR Experience, Part IV - Marketing Virtually Everything

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