Getting Creative with AR
by Kate Enright
Augmented reality ads are slowly making their way into mainstream advertising and the minds of creatives industry-wide. More and more brands are now using the technology to engage consumers with both high impact advertising and with hidden digital content. Large organisations are now turning to augmented reality as a means of creating a stir around products in order to influence consumers. The value in this is that the impact does not stop at those seeing the installations first hand, but there is an extremely high potential for these eye-catching campaigns to go viral, their digital nature is a huge draw. A good example of this is the recent Absolut Inspire app created by Absolut Vodka, calling for users to digitally overlay their “graffiti” onto public buildings, streets and walls. The ad alone had international viewership all over the web.
The Absolut Inspire ad campaign 2012.
For years, advertising execs have been using the latest in technology to draw in their target markets. After all, if it’s never been seen before, it’s going to stir interest and get people talking. This resounds particularly well with 18- 35 demographic, who are always interested in new tech advancements. The choice of the moment does seem to be augmented reality, and recent campaigns make it quite obvious why. Most AR promotions engage viewers because of their visual impact, taking engagement to another level. ABI Research done in 2009 predicted enormous growth in the future of AR in advertising, estimating that the market for augmented reality in the US will reach $350 million in 2014. That’s up from only $6 million in 2008. Fast improvements in the sophistication of the technology account for the dramatic growth over such a short time.
The ad world only really started buzzing about augmented reality around 2008, but like most new technologies it has taken a few years for brands to really start investing in the media. Over the past number of years Augmented Reality (AR), has become more and more popular for advertising. From Toyota, to Nivea, to Disney, a diverse array of brands have hopped on the AR bandwagon in the hope of creating hype and increasing consumer engagement. The huge growth in the mobile technology industry over the past number of years is fueling the popularity further. AR allows smartphone users to point their cameras at print ads, billboards, menus, or, in the case of Starbucks, a to-go coffee cup, and in return they trigger an interactive augmented engagement with the user.
While all augmented reality campaigns can be seen as innovative, some brands use the technology to create something really memorable and remarkable. Lynx (known as Axe in the U.S.), for example, put enormous digital displays in train stations that allowed passers-by to interact with the angels featured in the company’s ad campaigns. When standing in a target spot and looking at the screen, it appeared as though the angels were falling from the sky and landing beside commuters. Take a look for yourself…
The real benefits with this kind of campaign are 3-fold. Firstly, in the case of the Lynx angels for example, although one specific user is marketed towards directly (the one standing in the target), secondly, all the other passers-by are also engaged due to the high visual impact in a large, open area, thus opening up the advertisement for a much larger scale. And thirdly, the opportunity for the content to go viral is huge and thus spreads the campaign further than a physical ad possibly could.
The next big push in the form of advertising will definitely be in adding real value to the campaigns as oppose to simply a visual experience and what some feel is only a gimmick. Companies like GoldRun, the Augmented Reality ad specialists, are creating campaigns for large organizations such as Nike and Finish Line. These two companies collaborated recently to introduce an exclusive pack of Air Max sneakers in over 100 malls across the US. The “Flash Pack” included an exclusive collection of sneakers that are only available in Finish Line, and to support this promotion, virtual sneakers were places outside the store’s locations during the peak shopping season last year, Christmas time. A network of video billboards directed consumers to capture a virtual shoe in front of Finish Line for a chance to win their favorite pair. A different AR shoe was featured each day, and players could head back repeatedly to increase their chances of winning. Up to 15 winners were announced each day. This campaign gave both Nike and Finish line interesting metrics as regards their key demographic, item popularity, and geographical changes in trends. Vital information for both. Campaigns like this one will ensure the future of AR in marketing due to the tangible ROI.
For now we will have to use our smart phones and other mobile technology and digital displays to view the augmented ads/promotions but in the future we expect to see AR as a part of everyday life. As we have seen of late, Google have big plans in this regard with the new “Project Glass”. The revolutionary eyewear will mean constant visual access to augmented data and advertising. Users will be seeing AR ads simply by passing by brick-and-mortar stores, billboards, posters and much more, without ever having to open up an app. This is when we will begin see real life, real time advertisements in AR making a constant impact on consumers. We will be one step further to the world of Minority Report.