Within just a few weeks of the launch of the Pokémon GO app in July 2016, the world felt to many like it had been transformed. The augmented-reality game projected Pokémon—small, animated creatures—and the tools used to catch them onto real-time video. Just walk around with your phone screen up, and you might see a Pokémon Egg hatching in the middle of a normal city street. Normal coffeeshops and stores became PokéStops, destinations for players.
The game worried some observers. People were walking into traffic without looking up from their phones, wandering into caves and finding themselves in need of rescue, and even trespassing on military and other private facilities.
But it was also hugely popular, tallying 100 million downloads and $268 million in revenue by August 2017. Pokémon GO boasts more than 20 million daily active users, with 80% of iOS users making in-app purchases. It’s one big proof-of-concept of just how engaging AR can be. Suffice it to say, marketers and advertisers saw a huge opportunity — not only in Pokémon GO, but in augmented reality in general.
What Is Augmented Reality?
It may still seem like the stuff of the future, but as the monumental success of Pokémon GO proves, AR is already here — and it’s here to stay.
Augmented reality enhances real-life experiences by weaving digital content into them. AR users might wear special glasses or view the world around them through their smartphone camera. The screen or glasses then overlay animations, data visualizations, or information so that it looks like it’s hovering right there in front of you, in the real world.
Augmented Reality for Marketers
AR will be an essential component in the future of marketing — especially location-based marketing.
The potential for marketers here is huge. These are just a few of the ways you can use augmented reality in your next marketing campaign:
- Sponsored Locations: Games and apps can include sponsored locations. That is, advertiser can pay to be featured or spotlighted in some way. This might mean having visitors watch a video when they arrive at a particular location or overlaying data that proves the value of your product or service — the sky’s the limit.
- User-Location Tracking: Apps and other AR interfaces are already tracking user locations in real time. This helps them optimize their ad-targeting approach to ensure your messaging only appears when a strong potential customer is nearby. For instance, perhaps you’re selling designer footwear. You can make sure that your ads will only appear to people who have visited 3+ designer shoe stores in the last month.
- Getting to Know Your Customers: All this data can help marketers get to know their customers like never before. This can help you ensure that the content of your marketing campaign is all the more personalized. With the data provided to you by AR interfaces, you can better choose the design style, tone, and color palette that is most appealing to a specific subset of your audience. That’s because you’ll know what your customers are most drawn to, and what keeps them engaged the longest.
- Brick-and-Mortar Visits: AR encourages users to visit real-world destinations and interact with them in an exciting new way. It’s a great way to get people to visit a brick-and-mortar store or other location relevant to your brand or service. And the great thing about AR is, that people will travel pretty far to interact with your brand if you create worthwhile and buzzworthy content. Even if what they’re interacting with is an advertisement, users are enthralled with this technology and just how personalized it feels — so they’re more willing to stick around and hear what you have to say.
Striving for Quality in AR
All this doesn’t mean that marketers should rush to publish any content they can manage to produce. With the exploding popularity of infographics came a flood of poorly made, low-quality designs. While these drove traffic for a while, consumers eventually caught on: they didn’t want to engage with just any infographic. They were looking for quality visuals, custom designs, and content that felt written especially for them.
The same holds true for AR. Today’s consumers are more visually literate than ever before. They can tell when something is sloppily made. What’s more, AR calls for highly personalized, targeted content. If a design feels like a catch-all, rather than something made for a particular location, context, and audience, consumers will pass it by in search of something better.
It’s time to make augmented reality a part of your content marketing toolbox. Aim for quality, custom-made content, and you’re sure to reach audiences in a whole new way.